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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Events Calendar

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    Mar 23, 2017
    8:00 AM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah

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    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

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  • Sandfly Women Business Owners Coalition Meeting

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Scenes of the South

A-Town Get Down Music Festival

March of Dimes Shamrock Run

The Savannah community laced up their shoes and kicked off St. Patrick’s Day festivities in Savannah by joining the 24th annual March of Dimes Shamrock Run 5K! Everyone was wearing a costume and even brought out four-legged friends! 100% of the proceeds from the run benefited the mission of the March of Dimes to improve the health of babies through programs of research, community services, education and advocacy.

Greening of the Fountain at Forsyth Park

Hundreds turned out to Forsyth Park on Friday, March 10 to witness the annual Greening of the Fountain event hosted by the Savannah St. Patrick's Day Committee. Conducted for more than thirty years, this popular celebration signals the official kick-off to the Saint Patrick's Day Festivities in Savannah, attracting locals and visitors from around the world to watch the green dye being poured into the historic fountain.

Telfair Modern Lights Ball

This past Saturday, February 25th, guests joined Telfair Museums for their 37th Annual Telfair Ball! The event highlighted Savannah’s social scene, the Telfair Ball was open to Director’s Circle members, and all proceeds benefited Telfair’s exceptional exhibitions, educational programs, and art acquisitions. Guests enjoyed lavish cocktails, live music, exciting auctions, and dazzling lightshows as this illustrious annual gala celebrated Telfair’s vibrant history and supported the future of art and creativity in Savannah.

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One Hundred Miles is a nonprofit coastal advocacy organization focused on preserving, protecting and enhancing the 100-mile coast of Georgia. Founded in Brunswick, the group is now expanding to Savannah. This grand opening was free and open to the public, offering food, drinks and live music by Cory Chambers of City Hotel.

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Savannah is a river town, so what better way to get an overview of her harbor and port than to cruise with Savannah Riverboat Cruises? Celebrating their 25th anniversary, the towering red, white and blue traditional riverboats; the Savannah River Queen and Georgia Queen, both dock near the place where General Oglethorpe himself is thought to have landed. With years of experience in the maritime and hospitality industry, owner Captain Jonathan Claughton and his team focus on providing guests with the most unique tours and dining experiences with first-class service!

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I hope you didn't miss out on on your chance to participate in the happiest 5k on the planet, but, if you did, check out the scenes gallery from this colorful event that is taking the country by color storm! Hundreds of happy souls came out to the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center early in the morning on February 18 to upgrade their normal 5k to this technicolor 5k. Throughout the race runners were blasted with vibrant pigments at every color station along the course. You could feel the aura in the air; there was no question as to why this 5k claimed the name "The Happiest 5k on the Planet". Color Vibe is already selling tickets for their next race, so go to Color Vibe 5k Run to register today!

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For almost a decade Loop It Up Savannah has been seamlessly weaving its way through the often hardened exterior of community driven public works projects, evolving into something more akin to a necessity than just a volunteer after school program. The Soup It Up for Loop It Up event on Friday February 17th, 2017 marks the first year of their signature fundraising event, in which local chefs competed for the title of the Golden Soup Bowl while generously raising funds to support Loop It Up Savannah’s programming for local youth and services to local families. “We have so many wonderful partnerships throughout the city that allow us to work with thousands of amazing children and families every year,” affirms Loop It Up's Molly Liberman. “Savannah has really embraced and supported us to grow into the organization we are proud to be --- through partnerships, volunteers and an amazingly generous base of donors.” Still, she persists, there is a lot of growing planned for Loop It Up in 2017. Liberman plans to extend programs into the City Of Savannah Community Centers as well as the Public Library. Adds Liberman, “We are also moving into a new space which will allow us to eventually offer onsite programming. Our goal is to deepen and widen our presence throughout the city. We believe that art and opportunity for bold self expression should be everywhere! Savannah is fortunate to have so many community centers and organizations, and we are proud to bring art into as many of them as we possibly can!”

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