What is the City doing about the increasing number of
In Savannah, the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless
works with local governments and non-profits to address the issue of
homelessness. In 2015, the City contributed $190,000 to support the efforts of
the Homeless Authority.
Savannah has about 20 homeless camps, containing an
estimated 955 people, mostly located beneath and around highway overpasses on
the east and west sides of downtown. The larger homeless population, which
includes people who are in and out of homelessness and people who are
temporarily without a home, is estimated to be about 4,000. The Homeless
Authority also estimates that in Savannah, we are short about 8,000 units of
affordable housing for the general population.
The Housing Authority does have a strategic plan to address
homelessness in Savannah (read the plan here).
The plan acknowledges that the conventional approach to homelessness, which is
to provide services first, has not resulted in an adequate reduction of the
homeless population. The approach recommended by the Homeless Authority is to
take the Housing First approach.
Permanent housing ensures individuals feel safe, are out of
the elements, and can get adequate rest. At that point, people are more capable
of taking advantage of additional support services, such as mental healthcare
and substance abuse treatment.
As part of the Housing First approach, the Homeless
Authority is working on a pilot program to provide micro-housing (learn more about the small house movement) to homeless
veterans. At this time, a model micro-home is being constructed by volunteers
at Fort Stewart. The model home will be used to educate community leaders and
the public about alternative, low-cost housing options that can combat chronic
homelessness. CSAH hopes to break ground on a 12-unit development of
micro-homes next fall.
What is the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless?
It was formed in 1989 by the Georgia Legislature. The
governing board is structured with 21 members, including four Chatham County
appointees, four City of Savannah appointees, one appointee from the Savannah
Chatham County Public School System, one appointee from the Housing Authority
of Savannah, three state government appointees, and eight elected members
at-large. At-large members are selected via majority vote of the body,
represent the community and include a homeless or formerly homeless person.