Homeless children in New Orleans face sustained trauma including lack of adequate shelter and food, disease, and the threat of physical assault. Vulnerable families currently comprise the greatest share of New Orleans’ growing homeless population. But fortunately for them, there is hope. “The New Orleans Women’s Shelter [NOWS] has helped me in so many ways,” says mother Tasha, NOWS resident. “I came to the shelter in 2011 when I was six months pregnant with my third child. They provided a room for my family, food, security, and support.”
New Orleans Women’s Shelter was founded following Hurricane Katrina to provide shelter, food, safety, and transition services to mothers and their children. “Our goal is to change the trajectory of each person so they never return to homelessness,” says President Dan Silverman. The shelter works to reverse the cycle by providing personalized case management and an array of services and supports. The unique needs of each family are addressed and they are equipped with skills and resources needed to transition to stable, fulfilling lives. Graduates say that NOWS provided them with the security and warmth of a home environment, making it easier to attain their life goals. “They made sure my two daughters stayed in school, provided them with school uniforms, and the staff helped them with homework,” says Tasha.
Since 2007, 384 children, mothers, and single women have received services. Not only is NOWS one of just a few shelters in the metro area that cares for mothers over 25 years old and their children, but they are one of the only shelters that does not turn away pregnant women. Over the past five years, NOWS has had 23 babies born while mothers were in residence. To date, 70 percent of NOWS program graduates have fulfilled their plans, are employed, and are now living in safe, affordable housing.