New year, same problem: Long lines continue in Savannah for affordable housing

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – On a cold Thursday morning, Philis Blackwell stirred her morning coffee on her new granite counter tops.

A new tradition she’s settled into since moving her family into their Savannah apartment in December.

For the past year she has juggled homelessness, staying at a shelter, transitional housing, moving in with her sister, all with three young kids under the age of ten.

Her story is one of thousands struggling to find affordable housing in Savannah.

In November 2017, the Housing Authority of Savannah had more than 15,000 people on its Affordable Housing Waiting List with an average household income of less than $13,000.

Blackwell served in the Army. After she finished her service went through a divorce. Alone with three kids, she moved to Savannah to be near her sister but had no place to go.

“It’s basically like starting all over again knowing nothing,” Blackwell said.

She went to gain information from the Housing Authority but after finding it might be a year before she could gain housing through its services, she decided to enact Plan B.

“I stayed at the Salvation Army for a little while from there they kinda helped me to get transitional housing,” she said.

The Salvation Army has received thousands of visitors like Blackwell and her children so much so The Salvation Army in Savannah says its services have become “clogged” due to the lack of affordable housing in the city.

“We get people back on the right tack and having jobs and all the things that they need but there’s not a next step for them to go to,” Major Phil Swyers said.

After a year of being without a permanent address, Blackwell was able to secure a low income apartment for her and her family through a new complex in Savannah. She told News 3 she pays less than $300 a month for rent in addition to utilities.

“I’m very grateful to have a roof over my head especially from where I come from and my background, it’s something I don’t take for granted,” she said.

While Blackwell was able to secure a home for her and her children, others haven’t been so lucky. WSAV has learned that the Chatham Savannah Homeless Authority is in the beginning stages of developing a new diverse housing complex in Savannah. The team involved in the project is set to meet next month to talk financials. WSAV will keep you updated as details are announced.

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