Roundtable: The importance of collaboration during the pandemic for people experiencing homelessness

Nicole LiBaire, Winona Connor, Casey Guidry, & Martha KegelConstitution Hall Room 1

Abstract: Unlike most natural disasters the pandemic is a disaster that directly impacted everyone including those responding to protect and provide services to those most vulnerable. At a time when everyone was told the safest action was to stay at home the Louisiana Housing Corporation led the way to provide that very option to those that didn’t have a home and were living outside across Louisiana. Note that an estimated 30-50% of those experiencing homelessness in Louisiana are people with serious mental illness (SMI). This work was in partnership with federal, state and local government along with non-profit providers of homeless services. Specifically FEMA, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the City of New Orleans, all the homeless Continuums of Care (CoC) in Louisiana, local rapid rehousing providers, CSRS and TAC. The high level of collaboration of all the partners led to a highly successful effort that protected over 2,000 people experiencing unsheltered homelessness from COVID through the use of Non-Congregate Shelter (NCS) and ultimately exited people to permanent housing ensuring they would remain protected. In a panel discussion hear from those involved in this work how important it was to collaborate especially as it relates to navigating FEMA public assistance including reimbursements for CoCs and serving the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Through the use of NCS homeless service providers engaged with people that were never able to engage with before or with those that would not access congregate shelter sites due to past experience/trauma and the threat of exposure to COVID. In addition to providing a hotel room where people could follow COVID CDC guidelines like social distancing and proper handwashing, people received meals, laundry services, identification, and enrollment in mainstream benefits including access to services like behavioral health while they looked for permanent housing. This cross sector collaboration reemphasizes that housing is health care.


Nicole LiBaire

  • Title: Senior Associate, Technical Assistance Collaborative
  • Bio: Nicole LiBaire has more than two decades of experience in affordable housing and federal programs, and is a nationally recognized expert on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts that address the needs of low-income people. Her recent experience includes disaster recovery work in Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina, and California. As Executive Director of the Louisiana Housing Authority, Ms. LiBaire oversaw the state’s 3,000-unit permanent supportive housing (PSH) and homeless programs, developed Louisiana’s plan to end homelessness, and chaired the Governor’s Council on Homelessness. She was instrumental in the state's nationally recognized hurricane relief efforts, and administered several federal programs that aided in rebuilding.Ms. LiBaire has experiencing with process improvement related to the Housing Choice Voucher program and is currently providing Emergency Housing Voucher technical assistance to public housing authorities across the country. While administering disaster recovery programs in Louisiana she played a large role in the creation and set up of the Louisiana Housing Authority. This work included the coordination of state agencies, local Continuums of Care (CoCs), and advocates. Ms. LiBaire successfully created Louisiana’s Balance of State CoCs in order to renew a large PSH grant that ultimately led to three mergers of local CoCs into the Balance of State.
  • Website: Technical Assistance Collaborative
  • Twitter: @TACIncBoston
  • Facebook: TACIncBoston


Winona Connor

  • Title: Housing and Homeless Solutions Deputy Administrator, Louisiana Housing Corporation
  • Bio: Winona M. Connor – Louisiana Housing Corporation-Deputy Administrator -Housing and Homeless Solutions Department. Ms. Connor leads a team that focuses on housing and homeless issues across the State of Louisiana. She works to effectively implement housing and supportive service programs and to secure funding to implement programs that will benefit the most vulnerable citizens of the state. She works to assist communities in maximizing federal, state and local funding and community resources to address local needs.She has over 25 years’ experience working in services, policy, planning, and research in the area of homelessness and special needs populations.  She joined the State of Louisiana in 2007, prior to joining the state she worked with non-profit agencies providing services to the homeless, mentally ill and victims of domestic violence. Ms. Connor holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from Iowa University.

Casey Guidry

  • Title: Executive Director of Start Corporation


Martha Kegel

  • Title: Executive Director of UNITY of Greater New Orleans
Sun 12:00 am - 12:00 am
100 max
COVID-19, day three, FEMA, roundtable