Campaign to fight homelessness nets results

Published: Aug. 22, 2013 at 9:40 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2013 at 9:43 PM CDT
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New Orleans, La. - For most of his adult life, Olen Addison has been homeless.

"I have a long standing drug and alcohol problem," says Addison.

A couple of months ago, Addison says, members of UNITY of Greater New Orleans began helping him to find permanent housing "They found me and I must say, they've been really wonderful," says Addison.

The city, along with a coalition of homeless advocates and government agencies, are now working towards a very ambitious goal: find housing for 200 chronically homeless in 100 days.

Stacy Horn Koch is the city's homeless policy director.

"Once you connect somebody with housing, with the services that they need to become stable, then they are going to be able to earn money for themselves and to take more and more ownership of their lives," says Koch.

The housing is paid for by HUD, and other services are funded through various state and local programs.

In New Orleans, Koch says there were 4,000 homeless in 2011. That number dropped to around 2,400 in 2012, with about 600 of those counted as chronically homeless.

Since the city's campaign began back in March, they've managed to decrease the number of chronically homeless by 47 percent.

"Today City Hall housed the 188th official client because he signed his lease," says Koch.

Adolph Randall is a disabled veteran who joined the Marines in 1972. Randall became homeless after Katrina destroyed his family home in the Lower 9th Ward.

"We lost just about everything and I had to move on," says Randall.

Randall ended up on the street and sometimes in shelters. While staying at the Ozanam Inn, he says, members of the VA began helping him. Two months later, Randall received unbelievable news.

"They say, 'Mr. Randall, we have an apartment for you.' And I said, 'Right, you're kidding with me,'" says Randall.

For the first time since Katrina, Randall had a place to call home.

Koch says the biggest obstacle right now is finding enough landlords to agree to become part of the solution.

She's asking landlords to reach out to the city and various organizations like UNITY. Koch says landlords will receive fair market rent through vouchers every month.