SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Protesters took to the streets of downtown Savannah Monday to rally against the Salvation Army building a homeless shelter in their neighborhood in West Savannah.
Outside of City Hall is where the group of people chanted “one more vote!” to encourage another city alderman to vote no against the special use permit. Right now, four alderwomen are expected to vote against it. District 1 Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier represents the area and isn’t giving up without a fight.
“We didn’t really feel like we were being heard so we had to use other tactics where we could be seen,” Lanier said.
The alderwoman believes the community’s high poverty rate, along with where the historic site of the Weeping Time sits, is why she thinks the Salvation Army should build somewhere else. She told News 3 that this new development will set West Savannah up to fail.
“Sometimes when you stand up for what you believe in, you will have to go to some other extremes. Because when you’re looking to receive community benefits in a community that had never really received its equitable share of investment, then you have to do something that you haven’t done before,” Lanier said.
Major Paul Egan with the Salvation Army said the organization has been looking for land to build the new transitional housing for decades. He said if they don’t get this piece of land, they’ll be looking for decades to come.
“We hear them arousing folks that say ‘oh, we don’t want those people here,’ and it breaks my heart for the dear people that I love and serve every day. It really gets to be kind of frustrating,” Egan said.
He told News 3 that the site they currently have just doesn’t work for what they need, and if they aren’t awarded a special permit to build on the Augusta Avenue property it will set them back even more.
“Tell me why we shouldn’t go and help people? Give me a reason why we shouldn’t go and try to lift people up,” Egan said. “I hear them say poverty will head to poverty. I don’t know of any other organization or company that’s looking to invest multi-million dollars in that area.”
The vote is expected to take place on Thursday, March 11.