Posted by Doreen Higgins on Apr 16, 2018
We welcomed Pat Youngquist, Director of the Union Mission, and her associate, Mark Toth, to our Wednesday meeting.  The Mission has been in operation for 81 years in Savannah and its mission is to help all homeless people. 
There is a specific definition of homelessness (a federal specification), requiring one or more of the following circumstances: imminent eviction, in transitional or supportive housing, in an emergency shelter, or resident in a place not meant for habitation.  An unduplicated count of recent homeless persons amounted to 4513 individuals who were homeless at some time during the past year.  Looked at another way, on any given night, about 500 are homeless, and women are a growing part of this statistic.  There are many causes, and an array of programs aimed at mitigation and wherever possible, offering a remedy.
The problems which lead to homelessness usually include one or more of the following circumstances: car trouble, decline or cutting off of other assistance, poverty, divorce, domestic violence, drug/alcohol problems, illness, job loss, personal/family tragedy, lack of child support, low wages, PTSD, depression.  Many suffer from physical and/or mental disabilities and/or addiction, and these problems lead to others.  There is a substantial lack of affordable housing available to ameliorate this situation.
The Union Mission offers many forms of help.   These include employment training by counselors on staff, HIV/AIDS supportive treatment, permanent supportive housing, programs “addressing the barriers” to reentry into society.  For those who can be taught life/working skills, transportation to go to and from a job is a major problem; bicycles are an obvious but not always a feasible solution. Mark Toth led us through a detailed account of the permanent supportive housing made available through HUD funding and the sources of community support in Savannah.  These sources include food, clothing/furniture, transportation (clinical appointments), employment opportunities, training courses, and clinical services.  Sources also include Gateway, South, Southern, and Savannah State Universities, several medical facilities offering care, and employers offering training. We were heartened to see the Landings Club among those offering job training.
Pat Youngquist has degrees in accounting and an MBA.  She is an elder in the United Methodist Church and she says, “I am proud to be a part of an organization that impacts peoples’ lives – people, that is, who don’t have a voice.”
Below is a photo of President Toni and Pat Youngquist