Assistance is provided to low income tenants as part of the Savannah-Chatham County Continuum of Care. A number of services have been arranged by the non-profit organization in an effort to both stop evictions and to rehouse the homeless as well as people struggling to pay their rent. Various agencies and charities are part of the CoC in Chatham County, and they all focus on preventing homelessness.
The first step of any program provided is to stop the eviction from occurring in the first place. This is often a challenge for a family that has a low to moderate income. It can also be difficult when faced with an unexpected crisis, such as a job loss or medical crisis. Any eviction help provided will always require active participation from the applicant as well, as they need to take pro-active steps on solving the crisis.
Many of these services are arranged by CSAH, or the Chatham-Savannah Authority for the Homeless. They work with local non-profits such as the Economic Opportunity Authority as well as the United Way. The solutions available for eviction prevention are below.
U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Emergency Solution Grants – Each year there are charities in the Savannah Georgia region that are given money as part of this program. The financial aid for rent or paying utility bills is paid out on a first come and served basis, and uses of the grants can be as follows.
ESG can pay for utility bills, including water, if this is what is due. If the tenants is in arrears to their landlord on rent, then funds can be used to help the tenant catch up. Another common use of Emergency Solution Grants are to pay for legal advice from local Chatham County based law firms.
There are other resources used to try to reduce the number of families that are homeless in the community. Some programs, such as SSVF, are focused on veterans. There are also tools for the disabled to get rent help, as as from Shelter Plus Care (S+C) for the physically and mentally disabled, and LIHEAP if the eviction is strictly due to unpaid utility bills. Chatham County Legal Services (phone (912) 651-2180) can also deal with housing needs for the region.
Comprehensive Housing Counseling is also provided to stop homelessness. The Economic Opportunity Authority in Savannah arranges this in partnership with the United Way and city. This service will not only help tenants threatened with an eviction that need rental counseling, but there is also a loss mitigation department at the non-profit. This will arrange free foreclosure prevention as well as legal aid for a homeowner that needs it.
When an eviction can't be prevented, then the next goal is to limit the amount of time that the resident is homeless. The Savannah-Chatham County Continuum of Care does not want people, especially children or the elderly, to be living in a park or maybe sleeping in a car or on a friend's couch. They also do not want the homeless to be in sites such as Tom D. Austin House indefinitely. In some cases the chronically homeless can also apply for help. Therefore rapid rehousing is used when someone is qualified.
Non-profit organizations work together to offer a systematic solution to this issue. The different steps involved include placing the individual into a short term, emergency shelter, such as the Duffy Street SRO. If those are filled to capacity, then vouchers to pay for a motel may be issued.
Shelter guests that meet the various criteria that will be placed on them during their stay will then proceed to transitional housing and then, later down the road, permanent housing such as a low income apartment. Or the team at Economic Opportunity Authority will direct the family to an application site for section 8 HUD vouchers in Chatham County, which is an income based home.
All throughout the rehousing process, there may be financial aid paid out too. The HUD Emergency Solution Grants are not only used for eviction prevention, but the money may also be used for the rehousing. This includes paying for expenses such as a rental deposit or costs to connect utilities to the local electrical grid in Georgia. The fact that this support exists will go a long way toward helping reduce homelessness in the region.
Any resident that applies for either eviction help or one of the rehousing programs will also need to attend budgeting as well as money management workshops and improve their overall financial literacy. Assistance will only be provided to those who work on their own to solving their housing crisis. To seek help in an emergency, dial 912.651.2200 or 912.238.2960.
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