CSAH Mission: To lead the effort to build and sustain community practices to eliminate homelessness.
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. CSAH collaborates with many others to maintain a continuum of services for homeless persons in our community.
Annually in Chatham County, CSAH and its Continuum of Care (CoC) partners assist over 4,000 individuals, youth and families. CSAH works with community leaders to educate the public about why homelessness occurs. CSAH continues to advocate for needed change with elected officials, government leaders, business and the nonprofit sector for approaches not yet in placeâ€¦. to solve this pressing issue.
Our 2016 count reveals a second year with an increase in homeless persons served. This annual count (unduplicated, one person/one service) documents that 4,513 individuals were homeless for some or all of 2016. This count does not include more than 800 students enrolled in the Chatham County public schools and counted as homeless by that system.
Our annual count includes 585 chronic homeless persons and 286 homeless veterans. Increases in family homelessness is reflected this year with unaffordable rents and a high eviction rate as the primary culprits. The number of homeless camps has decreased to slightly more than 20 as loss of camp sites occur because of development activities. Camps are now bigger and experiencing more crowded conditions. We are receiving more reports of concerns from neighborhoods seeing homeless persons camping near their homes.
Services for the homeless have grown over time including emergency shelter, food service and case management. Shelters are often full and restrictions on stay time discourage many resulting in more camp sprawl. The most important thing we can do to resolve homelessness is to build affordable housing to meet the need. Truly meeting this need has not been a significant commitment by community leadership. The result is that we are having very little positive impact on homelessness reduction. Without a master plan for affordable housing and an interim plan to address homelessness, our community should keep their expectations low with respect to a resolution to this issue.