$5,000 donation boosts effort to house homeless veterans

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV)- An effort to house homeless veterans just got a $5,000 boost. The tiny house project was five years in the making and is now set to enter phase two of construction.

The Truist Financial Corporation donated the money. The project currently houses 23 veterans, phase two will bring in 24 more.

Mister Jones, who served in the Marine Core, was homeless for 10 years before he got his own tiny home. He’s been living in the community for two months now.

“Some days are better than others, but since I got my tiny home every day’s good,” said Jones.

Jones says living an entire decade on the streets made him a survivor. He’s still nursing mental wounds from the war except now he’s doing it with a tiny roof over his head.

“That’s all I need, refrigerator, roof, heat in there,” said Jones, “a shower, that’s it.”

Construction on phase two is set to begin in January. The community is already equipped with a medical clinic and a clubhouse where residents often meet for support, but keeping it up and running takes a village.

“I’m probably here two or three times a week,” said Cindy Murphy-Kelley, director of the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless (CSAH).

“We have a part-time case manager who works closely with all the residents and we have a housing director who also works with the residents,” she added, “I would say that we are a team.”

Kelley says with a 2.4 million dollar price tag, the project still needs a lot more funding.

“We’re not there yet, but we are making slow and steady progress,” said Kelley.

“Folks have been generous over the holidays and we are so appreciative of the committment of our community to this effort to house homeless veterans,” she added.

Jones says the effort has completely transformed his life.

“Being in the streets, out in the environment, sleeping in tents that’s a mansion to me,” said Jones.

Data from CSAH shows 1 in 17 people experiencing homelessness in Chatham County are veteran. Veterans are also more likely to be homeless than their civilian counterparts.

“They often come back into our community with issues,” said Murphy-Kelley.

CSAH offers resources onsite including substance abuse support, cooking classes, and financial tutorials.

“It’s a blessing,” said Jones.

When it’s finished, the community will have 47 houses, two clubhouses, and a medical clinic.
Kelley says in the future she hopes to see tiny home projects suited for families.

The tiny house project was the first of it’s kind to be approved in Georgia.

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