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Community Champions: A Home for Her

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Updated: Jun. 2, 2021 at 1:03 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Homelessness is often misconstrued as a men’s issue but living on the street can be an especially dangerous situation for women.

Everywhere he looks in Union Mission’s newest project, Mike Traynor sees solutions to some of the most heartbreaking calls that come into the organization.

“We get calls every day from women who are sleeping in their cars or on someone’s sofa, or maybe they can afford a motel or they’re just on the street,” Traynor said.

And now Union Mission is creating a place for those women with an emergency women’s housing program to address an often overlooked issue in this community.

“There are approximately 180 on average in a given night in Chatham County that don’t have a place to stay, and this is going to be a new dedicated facility for women. It will be the only one along the I-95 corridor from Florida to South Carolina, which is a huge deal for the women in our community that are looking for a safe place to be.”

When the J.C. Lewis Primary Health Care System relocated to midtown Savannah, Union Mission was able to use the building it has long owned for a program it has long wanted to launch. But A Haven for Her will be more than a place for homeless women to sleep.

“We’ll be able to provide services to 32 women with 16 bedrooms and eight bathrooms, including job assistance, mental health counseling services. We’ll have a case manager on site, we’ll have a resident assistant on site. We’ll have a computer room where the clients that are here can use to find a job or answer email or whatever they need to do they’ll have access to a computer. We’ll have a full laundry facility, we’ll have clothing, food, all those things you would think. And the great thing here is the client here will only have to open one door to get to mental health counseling.”

Union Mission is 60 percent to a $1.5 million fundraising goal for the new facility, which is on schedule to be an important addition to the community by the end of the year.

“It’s real important to have a dedicated location because statistics tell us that 40 percent of the women are victims of sexual abuse, 70 percent are victims of domestic abuse. So, being able to come somewhere where it’s a haven for them and it’s safe for the women id a big advantage and a big help for those who are seeking our help.

And Traynor is confident the WTOC Community Champions at Union Mission will be as successful placing people in permanent housing from the new shelter as it is with existing programs.

“78 percent of our men at Grace House get into stable housing, 86 percent of women and children in our Magdeline Project get into stable housing. We plan to do the same or better here.”

Union Mission expects to begin offering mental health counseling in the new facility by the end of July and will welcome the first residents to the new shelter by the end of the year.

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