Michael Traynor | Board Chair

CHAIRMAN’S COLUMN

AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS

 

The June 2019 issue of the Beacon magazine,  a  quarterly  publication   of Savannah Morning News, was dedicated to shining a light on the Coastal Empire’s challenges with affordable housing and homelessness. The magazine had in-depth coverage on topics ranging from housing prices and income to mental illness and living wages.

We live in a beautiful place termed a “Destination City” that is diverse with a thriving economy. However, some would argue that Savannah is in a crisis stage with 44% of its residents not being able to find affordable housing.

According to the Chatham County Housing Coalition, the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom in good condition is $996/month. An individual would need to make an annual household income of $39,840 to avoid a cost burden. At the current minimum wage in Georgia, that would take and individual 106 hours per week to afford rent. The numbers don’t add up (see chart below).

While our community is having a con- versation about affordable housing, the reality is people are experiencing home- lessness due to the lack of adequate supply. There are 35 homeless camps serving 250 individuals experiencing homelessness and unfortunately, Sa- vannah has a limited amount of shelter beds to accommodate the high demand.

As a response to  the  current  lev-  els of homelessness, Union Mission partners with people to end their homelessness through housing and supportive services. In 2018, we served: 286 clients in our Emergency Services Program, delivered Commu- nity Mental Health Services to 132 individuals, and provided stable hous- ing for 277 residents in our Permanent Supportive Housing Programs.

This is why the work of Union Mission is so critical in our community and the people that we serve. I am proud to Chair the Board of Directors at Union Mission and advocate on behalf of all those trying to transform their lives and re-enter into the workforce.

I  welcome  your   comments   on  this article and/or the most recent edition of Beacon  magazine. You can find an online version at www.savannahmorningnews.com/beacon