Homelessness In Chatham County
Last year 5541 individuals experienced homelessness in Chatham County. Of this population, 762 were children. While the causes of homelessness are many including domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, and incarceration, most homelessness in Savannah is a result of some type of economic distress. For many, Savannah residents living on a tight budget, "routine“ economic emergencies such as a sick child, broken automobile, large medical bills or interruptions in work are enough to push them into homelessness. According to the Georgia Coalition to End Homelessness, almost 30% of Georgians are three paychecks away from becoming homeless.
Homelessness In Savannah

What does homeless mean?

Homeless PersonAccording to the Stewart B. Mckinney Act, a person is considered homeless who “lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence and has a primary night time residency that is (A) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations…(B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized, or (C) a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.” The term “homeless individual” does not include any individual imprisoned or otherwise detained pursuant to an Act of Congress or a state law.

What causes homelessness?

Most homeless individuals are not on the street by choice. Not all homeless individuals are substance abusers or lazy. Many homeless individuals are employed, but due to the high cost of living, they cannot make ends meet. Listed below are several causes of homelessness.

Homeless PersonMental Illness- Approximately 20-25% of the single adult homeless population suffer from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.

Illness- A serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with job loss, depletion of savings to pay for care/living expenses and eventual eviction.

-Drug and Alcohol Related Problems- Rates of drug and alcohol abuse are high among the homeless population.

Job Loss- No income to pay rent

Divorce- Divorce often leaves one of the spouses homeless.

The primary cause of homelessness is Lack of Affordable Housing , that very low-income people can afford. Over 5 million low-income families pay half or more of their income in housing or live in severely substandard conditions2 . Nowhere in the United States does the minimum wage job provide enough income for affordable housing.

During 2004, in the Savannah Metropolitan Area, an extremely low income household (earning 15,960, 30% of the Area Median Income of 53,200) could afford monthly rent of no more than $399, while the fair market rent for a two bedroom unit was $657. A minimum wage earner (5.15 per hour) could afford a monthly rent of no more than $268. In the Savannah Metropolitan Area a worker earning the minimum wage would have to work 98 hours per week in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area’s fair market rent. Last year in the Savannah Metropolitan area a worker would need to earn at least $12.63 per hour in a full time (40hrs) position to afford a two-bedroom unit at the area’s fair market rent.>

Fair Market Rents

One Bedroom Unit

Two Bedroom Unit

Three Bedroom Unit

Four Bedroom Unit

$590 monthly

$657 monthly

$872 monthly

$900 monthly


Income Needed to Afford Fair Market Rent

One Bedroom Unit

Two Bedroom Unit

Three Bedroom Unit

Four Bedroom Unit

$23,600 annually

$26,280 annually

$34,880 annually

$36,000 annually


Hourly Wage Needed to Afford Fair Market Rent

One Bedroom Unit

Two Bedroom Unit

Three Bedroom Unit

Four Bedroom Unit

$11.35 per hour

$12.63 per hour

$16.77 per hour

$17.31 per hour


Hours needed to work @5.15 hourly to afford Fair Market Rent

One Bedroom Unit

Two Bedroom Unit

Three Bedroom Unit

Four Bedroom Unit

88hrs

98hrs

130hrs

134hrs

What are the Challenges a Homeless Person Faces?

Not only do homeless individuals have to deal with the obvious issue of being homeless, they have many other obstacles to face. Listed below are just a few: People experiencing homelessness face major barriers to accessing, utilizing, and succeeding in mainstream addiction and mental health services, including Lack of income verification documentation, difficulties in maintaining schedules, and lack of transportation.

The death rate of homeless people is almost four times greater than that of the general population.

Harsh living conditions and constant exposure to the elements leave a homeless person more susceptible to acute illness and traumatic injuries.

Many workers, living in shelters, are employed by day labor agencies, earning low pay, having no job security, no health insurance, and less than sufficient work protections.

Who Is Homeless?

Over 4,000 individuals experienced homelessness last year in the Savannah-Chatham area. Homelessness does not discriminate. Families with children, single adults, teenagers and elderly individuals of all races can be found struggling with the devastating effects of homelessness. The graphs below show the demographic breakdown of homeless individuals in Savannah for 2008.

Homeless breakdown by gender

Homeless breakdown by race