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Savannah homelessness has some still searching for solutions

(WTGS/Robert Catanese)

It will not take you long to notice the homelessness problem in Savannah, from City Market to Southside Savannah and at the more than 22 camps within the Hostess City.

“It’s the issue that no one wants to talk about,” said District 6 Alderman Tony Thomas.

He spoke with FOX 28 Tuesday about his concerns over an issue he says everyone knows about, but very few are actually addressing.

“I am looking at three homeless people sitting on a bench right now right behind your shoulder and we can go to any square in this city and you are going to see that around the city,” he said.

He says the problem is getting worse and he fears a rise in violence.

“It is not a crime to be homeless in Savannah. It is a crime though when your homeless and your committing crimes,” he said. “It’s even moved towards injuries to people and even reported death.”

Mike and Valerie Penell are from Illinois. They said they noticed something different this trip to Savannah from when they visited four years ago.

“I just noticed that this time there’s quite a few more homeless around the parks,” said Mike Penell.

Valerie Penell also said there was a noticeable difference. “There were a couple incidents where we had to walk away and get out of the area because a fight was going to break out,” she said.

Thomas’ concern is that there is still no solid plan to address the issue.

“These squares are our living rooms to the world and if we are not addressing the issues in these squares, then we have problems inside the house,” he said.

He feels there should be some form or "hub" to house the homeless, but also adds there needs to be a comprehensive plan to address the medical, mental and addiction issues that exist with some of the homeless population.

“It’s going to take money, it’s going to take resources, it’s going to take a building, it's going to take a commitment, not only by the city council, the county commission, but a commitment by the state,” he said.

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