Who Lives in Tent City?


Published:

Homelessness and the growth of tent cities, now confirmed in all 50 states, is a national crisis. Savannah’s homeless population has hovered for decades at approximately 4,000, which includes nearly 300 veterans and 1,000 chronically homeless individuals. Roughly 160 people live outdoors year-round. Another 500-600 shuffle between shelters and the wild.

In a 2013 survey of Georgia’s 75 counties, Chatham County ranked tops with two others for the greatest number of homeless individuals. The same survey showed a severe shortage of shelter beds to lodge them.

“The recession has ended for those on Wall Street, but definitely hasn’t for those on Main Street,” said Eric Tars, senior attorney for the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty.  While the nationwide poverty rate is 14.8 percent, Savannah’s is nearly double at 26 percent, which is higher, too, than Georgia’s rate of 18 percent. In some Savannah communities, the number jumps to 50 percent.

“I’d rather freeze out here than go to the shelters,” says Oklahoma-native Levi Swain who has been homeless since 2012. “A young and strapping man like me? Another man lying beside me – they put the beds so close together there – and trying to wrap his hands over me?” Swain is a Navy veteran and has lived in Savannah for 16 years.

Men comprise the majority of tent dwellers. There are no children. Unsheltered women are more physically at risk, so the few who live in tent cities are usually coupled.

“We all watch out for each other,” says Billy Sears, a jovial, middle-aged man with long grey hair and wire-rimmed glasses, describing the unspoken code of conduct to guard each other’s belongings and physical safety.

To read more about the residents of Tent City and how they got there, pick up the April/May issue of South magazine. 

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We're looking for the greatest, most authentic and sincere, southern moms. Taking nominations November 1st!

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Events Calendar

  • GIVING BACK - FILLING THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN

    Dec 16, 2018
    10:00 AM - 9:00 PM @ Cool Savannah Tours and Gifts

    Cool Savannah Tours and Gifts is partnering with GALA – Guardian Ad Litem Angels to help provide the essential needs that children in our...

  • Lean Ensemble Theater presents Bad Dates by Theresa Rebeck

    Dec 16, 2018
    2:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ HHPS Main Street Theatre

    Confessions of a single mother and self-described restaurant idiot-savant abound in this thoroughly charming, intoxicating and slyly sweet...

  • Spankys Southside 40th Anniversary Party

    Dec 16, 2018
    3:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Spankys Southside

    Come to Spankys Southside to celebrate 40 years!

  • ATC presents...Fly More Than You Fall meets Sun Records: Nat Zegree in concert

    Dec 16, 2018
    3:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theatre

    Get ready for some Rockabilly on the keys! In this third performance in a new musical series with the American Traditions Vocal Competition,...

  • Tybee Marsh Treks

    Sep 01, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:00 PM @ Tybee Island Marine Science Center

    On a marsh trek, you’ll enjoy a hands-on exploration of Georgia’s salt marsh, searching the mud for fiddler crabs, snails, and more. Learn...

  • Savannah Children's Choir Holiday Concert

    Dec 16, 2018
    4:00 PM - 5:30 PM @ Trinity United Methodist Church

    Queensborough National Bank, Speros and Atlanta Gas Light present a holiday favorite. Experience the “wall of sound” created by all...

  • Barbershop Christmas

    Dec 16, 2018
    4:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Asbury Memorial UMC

    13th Colony Sound, Savannah's Barbershop Harmony Society Chorus, is slated to present 'Barbershop Christmas' on Sunday, Dec. 16 at Asbury Memorial...

  • Capture a ‘paw‑fect’ pic

    Nov 19, 2018
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Oglethorpe Mall

    Bring your furry friends in for a pic with Santa, because pets are family too! Capture a special moment with your dog or cat to cherish for years...

  • Bonaventure Cemetery: After Hours Stories Eternal

    Nov 17, 2018
    5:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Bonaventure Cemetery

    Savannah's only after hours cemetery tour awaits! Few places are more invoking of Easter and life's great questions and mysteries than that...

  • Lights of the South

    Nov 16, 2018
    5:30 PM - 10:00 PM

  • Santa's Wonderland

    Nov 14, 2018
    All Day @ Bass Pro Shops

    The magic returns to Bass Pro Shops and Savannah-area families are invited to enjoy this enchanting Christmas village offering FREE 4x6...

  • Greenbriar Children's Center Toy Drive with the SMC Partners

    Dec 04, 2018
    All Day

    Savannah businesses are uniting to assist a local nonprofit for the holidays! From December 4–17, the Savannah Master Calendar Partners...

  • License to Chill Snow Island

    Nov 16, 2018
    All Day @ Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

    Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is preparing for a winter wonderland makeover that will surprise and delight local residents and travelers...

  • Toddler Touch Tanks

    Dec 06, 2018
    All Day @ UGA Marine Education Center and Aquarium

    Explore the coast with your child in a unique setting perfect for inspiring wonder and curiosity! During select Thursdays in January and December,...

  • 2018 National Gingerbread House Competition™ Display

    Nov 25, 2018
    All Day

    What started as a small group of gingerbread houses built by community members in 1992 has evolved into one of our most treasured traditions at The...

  • Skatefest

    Dec 07, 2018
    All Day @ Savannah Civic Center

  • Designer's Showcase: Dressed for the Season

    Nov 12, 2018
    11:00 AM - 3:00 PM @ Kaminski House Museum

    The Kaminski House Museum in historic Georgetown, South Carolina will be dressing the rooms of the Kaminski House Museum this holiday season with...

  • Tybee Island Christmas Parade

    Dec 17, 2018
    1:00 PM @ Tybee Island

    The holiday season is a special time of year on Tybee and this parade has become a tradition that highlights the small town charm you only find...

  • Rock N Roll Karaoke at Dos Gatos

    Nov 26, 2018
    9:00 PM - 11:00 PM @ Dos Gatos

    Rock N' Roll Karaoke with DJ Randall! Be a rockstar or just point and laugh! From 9pm. The best Monday night party in Jax for sure!

  • Girls' Night Out: "Meet Me in St. Louis"

    Dec 20, 2018
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    Not many movies rate 100 % on the Rotten Tomatometer, but this 1944 classic MGM romantic musical comedy does. So that’s why we’re screening it...


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Scenes of the South

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.

A Chefs Collaborative

This five course dinner held at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar allowed guests to taste exceptional flavors steeped in tradition. Included were the culinary skills of Chef Adam Barnett of The Katharine Brasserie & Bar, Winston-Salem, NC, Chef Robert Hoffman of Angeline’s Charlotte, NC, Chef Daniel Gorman of The Henley Nashville, TN, Chef Sebastien Rondier of Brabo, Alexandria, VA, and Chef Lauren Teague of PACCI Italian Kitchen + Bar.

East and West BBQ

A whole hog BBQ showcase, from two of the south’s most legendary Pitmasters, Pat Martin and Sam Jones. Hosted by Alida Hotel this event was a fabulous juxtaposition between Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Western Tennessee style. Made possible by the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Savannah Food & Wine Fest

Hundreds came to experience Southern charm and hospitality, Savannah Style. The South's best culinary happenings - one exceptional week in Savannah. Iconic and historic coastal venues provided the perfect backdrop for gourmet and fun. South magazine captured the experience at the VIP tent.

Big Wig Boat Bash

Savannah's Riverboat, The Georgia Queen set sail to host the final fundraiser for the 2018 class of Big Wigs, together raising over $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Foundation. This evening included heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a silent auction, music and dancing and a contest to crown the Biggest BigWig! Contest categories included: The Biggest Wig, The Pink Ribbon Award and Best Pink Personality.

Boo Bash

This spooktacular evening included hors d’oeuvres, “spirits,” music and dancing, a Halloween costume contest with cash prizes, Halloween-themed entertainment, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and talent contest. Contest categories included: Dancing, Singing, Rapping, Stand-up Comedy and Lip Syncing.

Masquerade at the Mansion

Plenty of patrons donned masks and beads for an unforgettable Mardi Gras at the Mansion. There unique entertainment, food, and decor including magic fire, beignets, king cake and a photo booth, plus music and dancing, libations, late-night treats, and lots of surprises.

DineSouth After Party

This year's DineSouth ended in a blast. Dozens headed over to Barrellhouse, who hosted the after party. They enjoyed great drinks and live music by Individually Twisted.

DineSouth 2018

This year's DineSouth sponsored by Fulfillment.com was the greatest yet! South magazine has once again put on a night filled with fantastic food and entertainment. Guests enjoyed delicious food & drinks in the city while getting the opportunity to meet and mingle with the best chefs in the South. The entertainment was amazing with American Idol winner Candice Glover, unique band Velvet Caravan and the acoustic sounds of Annie Allman. The event supported the local Salvation Army.

Grand Opening of 201 Seafood

Mixing the traditional tastes of the south with the local flair of the city, 201 Seafood and Tapas Lounge showcases Savannah's culinary community and their grand opening now gives us full access to some of the best seafood in the Coastal Empire.