President Street homeless camp faces ongoing trash problem

**UPDATE** On Thursday morning, Waste Management came to the camp on President Street and picked up its green trash bags. The city says it is working with the county to remove the mattresses left behind that were unable to be removed by Waste Management. More here:

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — If you’ve driven east on President Street recently, you’ve likely seen a giant pile of trash. Bag after bag, pile after pile of garbage.

Behind that mound and over a make-shift bridge is a homeless camp. Underneath the Truman Parkway lies tents, couches and people. People who call the space their temporary home. A home, despite circumstances, some find unclean.

“If you’d seen it before, it was trash everywhere. It was nasty. I wouldn’t recommend living here but when you’re homeless you don’t have anywhere to go, but if you want to feel good about where you’re staying, it needs to be clean,” James Freeman said.

Freeman, 41, lives in the camp and says the living conditions are often less than acceptable.

“We got several mattresses that were drenched and mold covered with mold,” he said.

He said conditions started to improve last weekend when someone donated green trash bags that were brought to the camp.

“We had to throw a bunch of pots and pans away that were infested with maggots,” Freeman said.

The bags quickly filled up and more items were placed next to them. Soon a long pile of trash lined President Street.

“My understanding is that a local business dropped them off, I don’t know which one, and had the expectation that they would be picked up,” Executive Director of the Chatham Savannah Authority of the Homeless Cindy Murphy Kelley says.

As of Wednesday night, the trash is still there.

Kelley says every one of the 21 area homeless camps are “health hazards.”

“This is one of our biggest challenges in respect to our homeless in this community,” she said. “The city and the county do not have any sort of plan to pick up garbage”

WSAV reached out to both the city and county to find who is responsible for removal of the trash. Each repeatedly said the other is responsible. The city says it will investigate to find who donated the trash bags to see if there is a scheduled pick-up time already in place. If not, the city says it will remove the trash.

There is no word on a concrete plan going forward for consistent trash pick-up for the President Street camp and other camps, though each entity reportedly has expressed interest in joining the conversation for a change.

A change, Freeman says, needs be a priority for anyone labeled a public servant.

“If you’re wanting to do good and everything then we need our trash taken away,” he said.

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