761 Wheaton Street
Savannah, GA 31412
(912) 790-3400

CSAH Mission: To lead the effort to build and sustain community practices to eliminate homelessness.

Totally committed to fighting homelessness, Rudy Villalovos works as a Peer Specialist for the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless and is resident assistant for Union Mission. Even with these two full-time jobs, he makes the time to train for the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, planning to run his first in November 2015 . . . and, of course, to raise funds for the homeless.

Growing up in a migrant family who spoke only Spanish, Rudy missed out on much of his education during his early years. They left Texas when Rudy was very young and moved to Wisconsin. It was those cold climes that drew him to the sunny South. With his two jobs and training for the marathon, he has little time to relax, but when he does, it's by the river, watching the ships and boats, or listening to live music in City Market. Rudy has two grown children, a daughter in Milwaukee and a son who is a Secret Service agent.

Why is Rudy so dedicated to helping the homeless? Easy answer - he was himself at one time homeless. Upon moving to Savannah in 2006, Rudy worked for a contractor at a local manufacturing plant. When his company completed its contract, the contractor left but Rudy stayed. He found work in construction labor, but an industrial accident, breaking his pelvis in three places, landed him in the hospital for six weeks. Having no health care coverage, his funds were quickly depleted and, with family still in Wisconsin, he was also alone. He had nowhere to go.

For two years, he gradually progressed from a walker to crutches and to walking on his own, but he still had neither home nor job. He entered the emergency shelter at Union Mission's Grace House, participating in their employment and training center program. Moving into the Beyond Grace transitional housing, Rudy stayed for two years, becoming a resident assistant for Union Mission.

Rudy's passion for advocating for others is what he likes most about working with the homeless population. His advocacy has helped bring about improvements and changes as well as helped him to find his voice in raising awareness for the homeless.

The Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless (CSAH) was created in 1989 to partner with nonprofit service providers, government, business and the community to assist the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. The mission of CSAH is to lead the effort to build and sustain community practices to eliminate homelessness. CSAH collaborates and develops a continuum of services for the homeless including child and family development, low income housing development, community outreach, case management, education, training, literacy support, employment, health and nutrition, transportation, and behavioral health services.

Annually in Chatham County we assist over 4,000 individuals, youth and families. Additionally, CSAH works with community leaders to educate the public about why homelessness occurs and how to work together to solve these pressing issues. Our most recent homeless count (for the calendar year 2014) reveals 3,997 homeless persons. This includes 717 children and youth, 1127 women and 2153 men (285 of these adults are veterans). This count does not include 800+ homeless children enrolled in our public schools as they do not meet HUD definition of homeless (but are considered homeless by our public school system).

Unduplicated homeless counts from 1993 to 2014 reveal annual counts from a low of 2793 to a high of 6511. These counts are reflective of changes in the economy and it can be reasonably stated that we have consistently had 4000 homeless individuals in our community for more than two decades. Important services have been developed through the Chatham-Savannah Continuum of Care during this period. CSAH is now working to strengthen community housing options for extremely low income homeless persons. We are also adjusting our perspective based on evidence based practice tied to what works and what does not work with respect to reducing and eliminating homelessness.

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