Savannah city council talks affordable housing, hears from new city manager

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 10:46 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Making Savannah a more affordable place to live. That was one of the many topics discussed Thursday night at the city’s council workshop meeting.

New City Manager Jay Melder discussed his 90 Day Plan to introduce himself to the community, prioritize task force findings, COVID safety and council priorities.

“It stretches beyond a vast net across the priorities we have to tackle. I’m excited about laying the foundation and getting some action steps in place to advance on these priorities,” said City Manager Jay Melder.

The Housing Savannah Task Force also shared their findings on how to increase affordable housing in the city up to 2032. They say about 40 percent of families cannot afford quality housing and are spending a third of their paychecks for it.

However, some council members want to know what the city is doing now to help.

“Right now we have families and children staying in hotels. Families with children who are in overcrowded conditions with families and friends. We have men and women who are on the streets of Savannah. Individuals who have mental health issues. Individuals who are struggling medically. Senior citizens are a huge demographic who struggle with affordable housing,” said Alderwoman Kesha Gibson-Carter, At-Large Post 1.

Mayor Van Johnson says the city is addressing a different plan for people who are in need now.

The task force recommends the city make a Housing Savannah organization, put $1 million in the city’s 2022 budget for the Savannah Affordable Housing Fund, and reach out to county and community stakeholders. The mayor wants this plan to be put on the agenda to be voted on in the upcoming weeks.

Council also voted to spend almost $93,000 out of their general fund for an impact fee study, which would be a one time fee for developers. The city says they’re looking to use that fee on developments including public facilities like police and fire, parks, streets and bridges.

Council also voted to spend about $234,000 on forklifts and basketball flooring and nearly $750,000 on a pedestrian bridge for the Enmarket Arena.

City council is expected to meet again on October 14.

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