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 the homeless including child and family development, community outreach, case management, education, training, literacy support, employment, health and nutrition, transportation, and behavioral health services. Critically needed are nonprofit housing developers to provide low cost housing options for homeless residents.
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 2015) reveals 4,222 homeless persons. This is up 225 homeless persons over the previous year. This includes 747 children and youth, 1205 women and 2270 men (237 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).
Our annual count includes 738 chronic homeless persons who are very expensive to serve. At present, we have 36 active homeless camps where many of our chronic homeless live. Our homeless camps are without running water, sewer or electricity. Garbage pick-up is not provided for these camps and they are public health hazards for the residents and the broader community.
Unduplicated homeless counts from 1993 to 2015 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.
Our Continuum of Care is now challenged with low community scores from HUD due to lack of affordable housing options for our homeless residents. Embracing Housing First and ensuring significant investment in housing is critical to our community. If not, we risk reduction or loss of current funds that support many services for the homeless.