Savannah homeless camps on rise as local agencies 'Stand Down for Homelessness'

Savannah homeless camps on rise as local agencies 'Stand Down for Homelessness'


Savannah is standing down for homelessness starting Tuesday. An annual effort to give the homeless - many veterans - a clean start to finding a job.

The set up for “Stand Down for Homelessness” has begun. The hard part, you may think, is getting the word out to the people who need it most.

“The good news is we've been doing this a long time...the bad news is we've been doing this a long time,” said Cindy Kelley, executive director with the Chatham-Savannah Homeless Authority.

She knows people want to help, like we saw a few months ago with the barbers from Los Barbers taking food and water and giving free haircuts. The Homeless Authority issued a warning not to bring food to the camps - it does more harm than good - which some WTOC viewers took offense to. 

“They'll take it and then it goes into a pile of refuse. We don’t want to add to that. It’s not an issue of not caring,” said Kelley. “When folks go into the camps and offer food then our residents don’t come in and use services available and our food goes to waste. We don't want that,” said Kelley.

She says annual camp clean-ups are not enough. Homeless advocates know, some people choose to live in tent cities and camps, but the most recent check shows the number of camps growing. Thirty-six now in Savannah, some spreading out to I-95 and other parts of the city.

Recent President Street construction did result in one camp being swept out.

“That only means another camp is larger, so we have nearly 200 people who live outside permanently,” said Kelley.

While the city tries to get the homeless problem under control, the “Stand Down for Homelessness” resource and job fair hopes to put a dent in those numbers. As far as spreading the word, Kelley says don’t under estimate their homeless residents.

“There is a pretty sophisticated network. It may not seem like that but there really is,” said Kelley.

The 13th annual Veterans Stand Down for Homelessness Resource Fair will be held on Sept. 13 at the Savannah Civic Center from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.

In addition, there will be a job fair hosted at the Savannah Civic Center on Sept. 14 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

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