SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The numbers of people who sought homeless services help jumped in 2018 according to a report from the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless.
The report says in 2018, that 4,641 people were served as compared to 4,198 in 2017, a difference of 443.
“So the takeaway is that there are 443 more people who use the service in 2018 than in 2017 and that’s a substantial jump. We’re seeing the biggest jump in women and children,” said Cindy Kelley, the executive director of the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless.
Kelley says the report represents services sought, even once. She does say one alarming figure for her is that 919 people became homeless for the first time in 2018.
Some people may have found temporary housing situations with friends, family or even in long term stay motels. But Kelley says the motels are not a permanent solution and often more expensive.
“Because the housing market is so tight it’s really hard to get a new apartment because you often need first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit, ” said Kelley. “That’s why many homeless, including families, live in a ‘pay by the week’ motel and it is more expensive ultimately but again, people can’t come up with all the money for a new place,” she said.
At the Bull Street Public Library, I talked to Gloria Lane who said she had been “on the streets for 13 months” awhile back. She said that she had been working at a store but it closed and after that, she couldn’t make her rent.
“I didn’t want to become homeless,” said Lane.
Kelley believes the longterm solution must be more affordable housing. She says there are people who need rents of about $500 per month. “And we have a large population of people who have income, it’s just small. If we want to see fewer people on the streets we have to accommodate that need for affordable housing in our community, it’s really important.”
Lane told me she has found a job that allows her to sleep over so she has a place to stay right now. If not, Lane said, “I would be out on the street tonight.”