SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Homelessness is a housing crisis that impacts most cities across the country and Savannah is no different.
“For us, they’re names, they’re people, and some might be that they just need a medication,” Savannah Mayor Johnson said at a press conference on Tuesday. “Some of them are veterans and served our country. Some are mothers and fathers. Some people just traveling through.”
Each year, the Chatham-Savannah Authority (CSAH) for the Homeless does a point-in-time review of the homeless population. The study only represents a period of 10 days. The latest report done in January found 712 people without a home.
The data showed that a majority of those people were in shelters, standing at 441. The remaining 271 were living on the streets or in the woods.
Jennifer Dulong, Executive Director said the shortage in housing across the county makes being homeless even tougher.
“There must be housing opportunities. This really kind of highlights that there’s a critical shortage in affordable housing units,” Dulong said. “We have a lot of people sitting in shelters right now that are gainfully employed. They can’t get out of the shelter. They can’t find a place to rent. They can’t find a place that’s affordable for them to rent.”
Dulong said the reason the number grew is because of more cooperation from local shelters. She also said new technology and extra pre-work for more than 100 volunteers helped build a better view of the homeless population.
Dulong told News 3 that putting roofs over people’s heads in Chatham County isn’t impossible. It’s a challenge she said has addressed successfully. She points to CSAH’s Tiny House Project to house homeless veterans as a job well done.
“And so for us, this community shows that when you have wraparound supports, when you have a community that provides safety ability to have privacy and agency, to make your choices and to self-determine what your next steps in life are going to be, people can be successful and come out of homelessness,” Dulong said.