New city policy upheaves homeless community

Brandi Doyal, Views Editor

The following is an opinion article and opinion articles do not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

The New Orleans City Council passed an ordinance on Sept. 4 that bans tents, couches and other obstructions from public rights of way including but not limited to streets, sidewalks, neutral grounds and green spaces next to sidewalks. These restrictions prevent homeless citizens from sleeping, resting, storing personal belongings and maintaining personal hygiene and greatly diminishes their quality of life.

Already homeless people are often profiled by the police and are arrested under false pretenses such as public intoxication when they are not actually intoxicated. This ordinance nearly outlaws an entire population’s existence from normal society.

Areas like the Pontchartrain Expressway overpass serve as the home of and for many homeless citizens on any given night. Now that they are being forced away from their makeshift homes, they are left desolate with nowhere to go. Being homeless does not decrease one’s rights as a human being or make one’s existence any less important. 

The ordinance also prohibits obstructions, even if they are not blocking a right of way but are simply present in a public space. The new ordinance allows police to arrest homeless citizens for crowding the sidewalks because their belongings, which they carry on them at all times, are legally considered an obstruction.

This new ordinance sends the message that the city is attempting to ostracize  the homeless from this city, when these citizens are just trying to survive.

Homeless shelters exist in the New Orleans community, but they are often overcrowded and short of resources. These new laws label the homeless as undesirable and illustrate the city’s move to abandon them, which is both unacceptable and unpatriotic. Every citizen deserves the right to be respected and represented. While it addresses a serious safety hazard, this ordinance does not offer any alternatives for the homeless and shows a lack of concern for the citizens that need help the most. 

Brandi Doyal is a sophomore in the Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached for comment at [email protected].

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