Odyssey House Opens New Community Health Center With $1 Million Federal Grant Through Congressman Troy Carter

Photo source: Danae Columbus

Odyssey House Louisiana (OHL) now has a new federally qualified one-stop-shop primary and behavioral health care center due to a $1 million appropriation spearheaded by Congressman Troy Carter (LA-2). Carter – along with various partnering agencies and individuals – cut the ribbon to open the new clinic in the Lafitte-Treme neighborhood on Tuesday, April 23. While introducing Carter, OHL CEO Ed Carlson explained that it takes partnership to accomplish major goals and that the congressman has always been “a major supporter” of the organization at the federal level. 

Carter easily relates to OHL’s important role in the community. “Odyssey House Louisiana has been a beacon of hope for 50 years and today marks a new chapter in their journey of providing critical care,” said Carter. In his remarks, Carter talked about the importance of helping individuals and families struggling with addiction and mental health issues without judging them. “It’s ok not to be ok. Most of us are going through something.”   

Also on hand were Mayor LaToya Cantrell, Councilmembers Lesli Harris, Oliver Thomas and Eugene Green as well as Maggie Pike, one of the agency’s founders who is still active with the group. Each spoke glowingly about OHL’s ongoing success in working with the most vulnerable people in the community. Cantrell told Carter that more federal vouchers for affordable housing are needed. “It’s not time to stop,” Cantrell said. Carlson explained that Thomas just showed up at ODL in 2015 and wanted to know what he could do to help. Thomas expressed an interest in additional referrals to ODL and the “need to get more people into the facility to help them.” Green spoke about the “continuum of care” and the ongoing need for investments in drug and mental health programs. Harris praised ODL for their ability to deliver the services clients need most.  

The core mission of the 51year-old non-profit is to provide behavioral health care with an emphasis on addiction treatment for those suffering from alcohol or drug abuse. Through its multiple programs, OHL provides services to more than 10,000 individuals each year. The goal of the program is to help individuals chart new lives and return to their communities as contributing members.  

OHL employs a holistic approach which addresses the physical, mental and emotional health of each client as well as the social conditions that impact the client’s life. In addition to substance abuse treatment, health and mental health care, ODL also offers life-skills training, vocational training, individual and group counseling, parenting classes, childcare, case management and housing placement. 

Photo source: Danae Columbus

Services offered by ODL’s Community Health Center are open to everyone. No one will be denied access due to inability to pay. The Center accepts Medicaid, Medicare, Wellcare, and Self Pay/Sliding Scale. There is a discounted/sliding scale fee schedule available based on family size and income. The Center is also a designated Medicaid Application Center and can assist individuals with applying for Medicaid. The Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. For more information log on to www.ohlcommunityclinic.org

OHL is also wrapping up a construction project that will expand the number of beds available at the Lafitte-Treme location from 52 to 110. Cathy Laborde of the Gulf Coast Housing Partnership has been instrumental in OHL’s development projects.  

On June 1, OHL will also begin to operate the city’s low barrier shelter which is located inside the former VA Hospital. The shelter was the subject of numerous complaints due in part to crime, problems with the physical structure, and inadequate staff due to funding shortages. ODL CEO Ed Carlson will oversee a network of case managers who will work with individual clients to stabilize their lives including addiction treatment and primary health care and transition them to supportive housing. The low barrier shelter will offer 296 beds. 

The City of New Orleans has been focused on moving the unhoused off the streets downtown and into more permanent housing prior to the 2025 Super Bowl in New Orleans. Individuals at several encampments have already been relocated.   

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