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    Community Definition and Demographics

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    The city of Savannah located in the state of Georgia is the primary port on the Savannah River which is the major river in the Southeastern United States. The city borders between the state of South Carolina and has a population of 146,444 according to the U.S Bureau census and 25.4% of the population is living in poverty (U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Savannah city, Georgia, n.d.). Savanna’s population is made up of primarily white and black origins with 40.0% white and 54.1% black. With a percentage of 86% of those aged 25 and older have at least a high school diploma and 14% of Savannah residents do not hold a high school diploma. Studies have indicated that low wage levels, income equality, and low educational attainment are the key issues in the correlation between poverty levels in Savannah and its economic growth (Tomkenkel, n.d.).

    The city of Savannah has begun the process of addressing poverty while continuing to focus on specific goals to meet community needs. Identifying new revenue sources and promoting programs to improve poverty levels by providing more employment opportunities are goals for the city to reach for economic growth. New and existing businesses need a skilled workforce in order to expand and grow successfully however, building a workforce can be challenging in Savannah. Helping residents through community programs can be an achievable goal but it does not solve all the issues those unemployed are dealt. Child care and transportation are deterring factors some face that prevent individuals from staying employed or being able to be considerable employable. City Manager Rob Hernandez feels that in addition to the current resources other solutions must be introduced “We may have to do something entirely different with some of these populations that have drastic barriers”.

    Community Needs Data

    For the Savannah community the poverty levels are highly concerning and the community has recognized the effects the city’s poverty has had on the economic development of the community. While more than a quarter of Savannah’s population is faced with poverty, the numbers in poverty have continued to increase for more than 30 years (Tomkenkel, n.d.). A non-profit organization, Step Up Savannah whose mission is to promote economic and financial security believes that building a skilled yet educated workforce is a critical component in achieved success for growth in the low-income community of Savannah. Step Up Savannah was initially established in 2005 by a group of community leaders, with 39 board member directors the organization has a network of resources that aims to create effective programs , train non-profit leaders in the neighborhood, and advocates for polices to improve the lives of low-income families. They utilize a participative process relying heavily on the various directors and their resources to reach solutions that assists low-income families in working toward economic and financial self-sufficient

    In 2015 27% Savannah’s population were living in poverty which was a 22 percent increase from 2000 (U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts: Savannah city, Georgia, n.d.). The City of Savannah which consists of the mayor, a council manager, and 8 aldermen are responsible for the annual budget, including carrying out policies and programs. The city has played a huge role in fighting poverty as they have invested 2.7 million in general funds for anti-poverty programs (Dawers, 2017). Over a million dollars was donated to the Step Up Savanna’s job training program as well as over half a million to the Moses Jackson Advancement Center. Austin Spell a student who participated in a training program at the advancement center shared

    how he did not have the educational background to pursue a career in EMT because his step-father removed him from school during 8th grade. Spell can account for many residents in Savannah who were encouraged to work instead of finish their general education, 61.5% of residents 16 years and over are civilian labor force. The GED program at the advancement center is supported by the City to assist residents with employment yet the poverty persists (Curl, 2017).

    In addition to the training programs offered at the advancement center , Goodwill has also implemented their own hospitably training program at the center helping those gain skills for employment in the hospitality field. Rashena Platt a former participant in the hospitality program said she joined the program when she was unemployed but was able to become employed once she received training. However, for the city of Savannah the topic of hospitality jobs have been quite debatable. Some residents have expressed concern for the numerous opening of hotels and feel it has resulted in Savannah’s depending on low paying jobs. Borish Jenkins, a goodwill career assistant at the Moses Jackson Advancement center believes that the hospitality industry can be a stepping stone for advancement and better pay. Richard Kesslers Plant Riverside, a 270 million hotel project that is being built along the west river sounds like a promising economic business venture that will benefit the community. The hotel will create 700 full-time permanent positions with wages as high as $15 including health benefits. Providing employment in an impoverished can be beneficial in aiming to reduce the poverty rate in Savannah.

    In an interview with Community and Economic Development Bureau Chief Taffaney Young, she attributed Savanna’s increased poverty rate to the rescission. During the recession people lost their jobs which resulted in interviews with higher income and skills taking low skilled and pay jobs. Young suggests the city attempt to re-implement a partnership with a local church that once provided training for residences by retirees. During an interview with City manager Rob

    In an interview with Community and Economic Development Bureau Chief Taffaney Young, she attributed Savanna’s increased poverty rate to the rescission. During the recession people lost their jobs which resulted in interviews with higher income and skills taking low skilled and pay jobs. Young suggests the city attempt to re-implement a partnership with a local church that once provided training for residences by retirees. During an interview with City manager Rob Hernandez he shared that the city is working on a proposal that will focus on addressing the hurdle of issues some residents are dealt with when attempting to get hired.

    Community Strengths and Assets

    Savannah, Georgia is a community with many strengths and assets to accommodate the poverty level and struggles faced by much of its community. Unemployment is at its peak in this community however; there are many resources that are available for the disabled, veterans and family members. Savannah’s Department of Labor assists individuals with an effective technique in finding a job and the ability to conduct an effective job search (Ga. DOL Department of Labor, 2018). The Department of Labor serves all and encourages diversity. The Coastal Habitat for Humanity strives to build homes for low income families. This organization focuses on those in need of a decent place to live at an affordable price. Ultimately, their desire is to place low income families in a safe community. This promotes healthier and happier citizens. Seeking to put God’s love into action brings people of different races, religion, and cultures together to build homes community, and hope (Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity, 2018). Funding is donated from the general public, government, and private foundations.

    The Social Apostolate has served the community since 1968. It empowers individuals to be self-sufficient. There are volunteers to help citizens fill out job applications to obtain employment. They are compassionate because of religious beliefs to help those who are under-served with feelings of hopelessness. Focusing on the homelessness and at-risk homelessness, are a top priority. There are a variety of services offered to fill in the gaps to prevent someone from moving forward in the right path of self-sufficiency (Feed the homeless, Social Apostolate of Savannah, Georgia, 2018).One major service is the birth certificate/ID program. They help individuals fill out documents to obtain other services and programs. Paper work fees are fully funded by this organization. Some services included are grocery assistance, advocacy, employment assistance, emergency prescription assistance, and clothing vouchers. Essential services are provided such as soup kitchen, showers for the homeless, and thrift store shopping.

    Savannah has devoted resources to address problems of the community for decades. Crime, poverty, teenage pregnancy, poor educational outcomes, and juvenile delinquency are problems faced by citizens for many years. The damaging cycle impacts the entire community. This chart was created in 2013. It explores poverty and crime issues of Savannah, Georgia.

    (Feed the homeless, Social Apostolate of Savannah, Georgia, 2018)

    Community Problem Analysis

    The targeted problem addressed is poverty among the predominately black community. My assessment of poverty in Savannah includes issues such as the rate of poverty is not declining, poverty is at its peak with very low income and educational backgrounds are minimal. In 2016, Savannah residents with income below the poverty level was 29.5% compared to the whole state at 20.8% (Savannah, Georgia (GA) Poverty Rate Data, 2018). Single mothers are moving out of poverty at a slow pace. Community members are concerned with the lack of training experienced by Caucasian teachers at the local High School. All teachers should obtain training to better understand the social, economic, and cultural justice of predominately African American schools. The Poverty Reduction Action Plan of Savannah has impacted the city of Savannah. The Plan empowers individuals and families to gain economic strength. Jobs are moving away from the area, but the local CAT bus is available to transport citizens to and from work.


    • Curl, E. (2017, February 11). Poverty persists in Savannah, despite city programs. Retrieved from
    • Dawers, B. (2017, June 17). City Talk: Savannah officials setting poverty reduction goals. Retrieved from
    • Tomkenkel. (n.d.). Building Wealth. Retrieved November 18, 2018, from
    • U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Savannah city, Georgia. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2018, from
    • Coastal Empire Habitat for Humanity. (2018, November 16). Retrieved from
    • Feed the homeless, Social Apostolate of Savannah, Georgia. (2018, November 17). Retrieved from
    • Ga. DOL Department of Labor. (2018, November 16). Retrieved from Ga. Gov:
    • (2018, November 16). Retrieved from Our Mission:
    • Savannah, Georgia (GA) Poverty Rate Data. (2018, November 16). Retrieved from

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