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Final vote on proposed West Savannah homeless shelter set for Thursday

Mayor Van Johnson spoke out on the issue Tuesday after City Manager Michael Brown released results of an internal probe
Updated: Apr. 6, 2021 at 5:44 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - WTOC has confirmed the Savannah city council plans to vote on a proposal by the Salvation Army to build a multi-million-dollar transitional housing homeless shelter off Augusta Avenue in West Savannah. The Department of Housing and Urban Development owns the land, but the Salvation Army needs a special use permit to build a homeless shelter on the site. The city council has the final say on such permits.

The vote has been delayed twice but is now set to take place at the council’s meeting on Thursday. The meeting starts at 2:00 p.m.

WTOC has been following this story closely since the issue first came up in November. The proposal has publicly pitted neighbors and council members against one another ever since. Some residents tell WTOC they do not want the shelter to be built at 2305 Augusta Avenue, the site of the old Bartow Housing Complex, because it’s near the site of the historic 1859 Weeping Time slave auction.

Mayor Van Johnson addressed that argument today during his weekly press conference.

“There’s been misinformation, diversion, and, in some cases, downright lies,” Johnson said. “I’ve been very quiet about this, but at some point you just have to put the facts where they are.”

Johnson said some people who are perpetuating the argument know that it is untrue.

“People have — some intentionally — said, ‘Oh, this is sacred land! And this is the same property!’” Johnson said. “We’ll send you the map, and you can see it for yourselves (that it is not).”

City Manager Michael Brown also released a memo to the council outlining concerns raised that Alderwoman Bernetta Lanier has ties to a competing offer for the site. WTOC first broke that news to you last month. Brown did not take a stance on the questions raised. It is listed in the council’s agenda for Thursday. To see the full memo sent to the city council, click here, or scroll to the bottom of this story.

The council meets at 2:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon. WTOC will bring you their decision as soon as the vote is final. If you’d like to view WTOC’s coverage of the homeless shelter proposal so far, our stories are listed below in chronological order.

Previous stories:

You can also read the full memo below.

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