Public forum being held to discuss homeless issue in Chatham County

Published: Jun. 12, 2018 at 10:00 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2018 at 10:10 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - As the homeless problem continues to rise in Savannah, one local group is making efforts to combat the issue.

State Rep. Jesse Petrea said there has to be a solution for dealing with the homeless issue in Savannah.

Last week, Petrea voiced his concerns about the city's homeless conditions in a local newspaper. The representative said he has heard from a number of residents who say something needs to be done. He said the homeless camps, like the one under Truman Parkway near President Street, are unsanitary and unfit for any human beings. He also worries that these camps can be seen from the road and they're not a pretty sight for those in the area.

Petrea has heard from business owners and others who say there's an issue with public safety and the homeless community. Many residents are concerned about the number of homeless residents who walk in the road or lay on the sidewalks.

Petrea's comments include a call to relocate the homeless camps. However, he said he does not want to push the homeless out of Savannah, he wants to help them.

"Push them out - well, of course not. That would be absurd. That would worsen the scenario. We do not need to worsen. We need to make it better. We need to relocate these individuals in these camps to a better solution," Patrea said.

Petrea proposed an endorsed campsite with bathroom, shower and trash facilities. He said this could be a possible solution. However, he wants to hear other ideas as well.

Another group that's very concerned about the city's homeless community are People Helping People. The group meets each Sunday afternoon at Forsyth Park to help the city's homeless community. They have a sermon, a meal and other activities aimed at helping these individuals get off the streets.

The group has been helping the homeless for years, and, despite the claims from some in the community who say the homeless population is increasing, the director of People Helping People, Marti Taylor, said she is seeing a decrease. The group plans to feed around 150 to 300 people each week, and she said attendance numbers have been going down.

Taylor said she understands people's concerns, especially when it comes to the homeless camps, and  trash can be a huge issue in these locations.

The Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless is hosting a community meeting tagged, "Chatham County Homeless Camps: What is the Solution?" The event is on Wednesday, June 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. at 761 Wheaton Street, Room 1009B.

Petrea and Taylor both plan on being at Wednesday's community meeting.

To RSVP, email or call 912-790-3400.

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