Local organizations help homeless get back on their feet

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It's called Project Homeless Connect.

Once a year all of the organizations that serve the homeless come together under one roof to reach the masses.

It's a project that means so much more for Navy Veteran Benny Duncan. He's one of hundreds of volunteers who helped out, but just two years ago he was here looking for help.

"Lost a job and then alcohol abuse and drug abuse helped."

Project Homeless Connect helped turn things around for Duncan. That's why he volunteers his time to help others.

"It was so many resources that I didn't know about."

Volunteers like Duncan help steer clients through a maze of services from eye exams and medical services to help with benefits. There are legal services and information on housing. WREG's Markova Reed visited during the annual event, but the Community Alliance for the Homeless does this work all year long.

"We have a coordinated entry system for people who can come in and that way they don't have to go around to different areas," said Chere Bradshaw.

The organizations said everyone can help locate people on the street who may not know where to turn.

"If the public sees someone on the street that they're concerned about they can go to our website and there's a siting tool you can put in information like where the person is located."

The services have made an impact.

"Our unsheltered population is down 75%, our chronic homeless is down 76%, and veterans 48%," Bradshaw said.

"If you're homeless you want to try to do something for yourself and they help and guide you in that right direction."

Sober for over a year and working again has given Duncan a new lease on life.

"I can hold my head up. I can hold my head up."

He said knowing where to get help is the first step to hope.