SAVANNAH, Ga. — (WSAV)
Have you been wondering why you haven’t seen any of those tiny houses that were supposed to be for homeless veterans in the Savannah community?
Well, you haven’t seen them because Savannah Homeless Authority hasn’t been able to raise enough money to fully launch the program.
“We have approval to proceed with the project, which is exciting, but now we have the uphill battle of raising the funds for the project,” said Cindy Kelley, executive director of Homeless Authority.
They built the first tiny house in February of last year, with the goal of showing people how the program would work. Tiny houses with just a enough space for a bed, bathroom, and kitchen area, with air conditioning and heat.
Kelley says the issue in Savannah is there just isn’t enough affordable housing for the homeless.
“Many of our veterans and others have between $300 and $700 dollars a month, but let’s be practical, many of our housing units start at $900 plus utilities,” Kelley said.
Tiny houses would run less than $300 dollars and be just enough to get someone off the street and into a place that could, as Kelley says, start to change their mental health and, in turn, their circumstances.
The Housing Authority’s plan to recruit the homeless veterans was their effort to get the community to embrace the idea. “The need is great, and we owe it to our veterans to serve them,” Kelley said.
In their last homeless count, they found 238 homeless veterans living in Savannah.
“We’re building 72 homes, so we anticipate that it will be 100% veterans,” Kelley said.
While the project as been approved by the city and the land has been bought, they are still seeking out a initial $250,000 to start the infrastructure.
“Local government will contribute some towards that because we are being really successful in the private sector, raising money for homes,” she said, “Frankly, individuals who give for a home you know aren’t really interested in trenches in the ground and so we really really need that boost to get us going.”
Kelley says they have put their requests in to meet with local government and are anxiously waiting.
Aside from funding, the project does have its obstacles.
“Sometimes we even hear some of our homeless residents say ‘We’ll I want to be homeless,’ but if you get to know them and you build a relationship with them, and you talk to them, they say that because it’s their pride,” she said.
For Kelley, Tiny House is just to give the homeless an opportunity to have a place of their own, that is affordable with their little to no income, and to still be in a community, similar to the ones they are so dear to in the camps.
“If you were a homeless person, and you’re living in a shelter and you don’t wanna be there or if you were living outside in a tent,” she adds, “A small home that has air conditioning and heat and a roof over your head and a little kitchen and your own bathroom, and your own private shower, is heaven.”
While their initial target demographic with this project is veterans, they hope it’s just a start to solving the affordable housing shortage in Savannah.
If you would like to donate to the Tiny House project, visit the Homeless Authority website.