SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A new housing-first initiative by the City of Savannah could soon mean cost-effective housing options for Savannah’s homeless.
Much like the Chatham County tiny house project for veterans, these 120 square foot, one-bedroom container homes would come fully equipped with an updated bathroom, marble countertops, sink and kitchenette.
“We’re just doing all the things that pertains to quality of life for a lot of people. We realize that there are a lot of (homeless) women, and if you don’t have children you could fall into that gap. So, we just want to embrace the whole spectrum of what it means to be homeless in Savannah. There are 32 plus camps, so we wanted to start this initiative in the third district,” said District 3 Alderwoman Linda-Wilder Bryan. “This is our purpose, to try if not eradicate homelessness, do something about the numbers, and this is a great start.”
The project was spearheaded by District 3 Alderwoman Linda Wilder-Bryan, who plans to start this initiative in Savannah’s third district at Dundee Village.
“We knew from the very beginning that the most effective way to solve an issue with homelessness in our community is providing homes for the homeless,” District 4 Alderman, Nick Palumbo said. “We have to do it in an effective way, we have to do it in a way that’s scalable and we have to do it in a way that’s manageable because we know that it’s an issue here in the city of Savannah, and there are innovative solutions that we can access right now.”
These container homes are built strong enough to withstand a category five hurricane or a major earthquake, and will be available to anyone, not just for Savannah’s veterans.
“We’ve seen the success in the veteran’s village, and we want something that we can bring to the entire community,” Polumbo said. “We know that homeless has no boundaries. This is a solution we’re looking at for the city of Savannah to put housing first, to address this.”
This housing alternative is made possible by exploring funding options through federal grant money as well as the homeless authority, in order to provide these homes to Savannahians at as low of a cost as possible.
“We wanted to work with the manufacturer to find something that was most cost effective and something that the city of savannah could scale well into the future. Because we know that this is a scalable problem that flows with time and we need real solutions and practical solutions, right now,” Polumbo explained.
“I think what you’re here today to talk about or really see is, one piece of that puzzle,” interim City Manager, Heath Lloyd said. “Homelessness didn’t start overnight and we’re not gonna solve it overnight, but if you put these pieces together, the sanitary camp, the container homes, then we really believe that we can have a solution for Savannah one day in the very near future.”
As Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan described, the standards of who can apply to live in these homes will be similar to that of the homeless authority. That means background checks will play a key role in the application process.
“We wanted to make sure that the same standards the homeless authority use, the same application process, we follow that process. No pedophiles, no aggravated assaults, no crimes against persons, and we’re confident that this is a move in the right direction. If we believe in it, we have to lead this charge,” added Alderwoman Wilder-Bryan.
The container home initiative originated in the state of Utah and has been implemented in other cities across the country. Savannah city leaders believe this demo is the first container home in the state of Georgia.
The City will seek additional funding to help grow the container home project. The hope is to provide upwards of 75 to 100 container homes in the city of Savannah in the coming years.