Non-profits help homeless rebuild their lives

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - On the corner of N 17th and Convention Streets in Baton Rouge, there are 12 non-profit organizations working together to get people off the streets. It's called the Capital Area Alliance for the Homeless or CAAH. It's been a part of the community since 1996.

"We see about 70 to 80 homeless people a day, some of them will come over a period of time, so that's an un-duplicated count," said Randy Nichlos, executive director of CAAH.

"Anytime there's a person that is sleeping on the street and doesn't have a home of their own, that is alarming," Nichlos said. The center acts as a one-stop shop for the less fortunate looking for a boost. Each non-profit operates over 20 different programs in the building, each with their own funding, regulations, and client base.

One client, Gregory Davis, says he once had a home and a job, but after recently falling on hard times, lost both, so the alliance is helping him bounce back.

"The idea was to make it easier for homeless clients to access multiple services by being able to come to one site, but also to make it easier for service providers to collaborate with each other," Nichlos said. "Any time there's a homeless person, they will need multiple or several services in order to help them become rehoused."

At any given moment, a homeless person can walk into the center to job hunt, see a doctor, or pick up their mail. The center offers a mailbox to each client for personal use. "Mail gets delivered and sorted and held here for clients and they can come in and request it and we do mail calls several times a day."

"[The mailbox allows clients to] apply for a job, social security benefits, apply for housing, anything that requires a business address," explained Nichlos.

Clients can also paint to pass the time and if they want, sell their artwork with all proceeds going towards securing their future. "They do want their independence, they want their autonomy, but they desperately want a place to live," Nichlos said. "We are so grateful when we're able to assist them," he said.

For more information about the groups and how you can help, click here.

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