Director of Homelessness in Manchester to roll out housing initiatives and website for information and resources

Outreach officers provide one of the homeless campers with a warmer coat just before the state clears the camp outside the county courthouse in this November 2020 photo. A recent report says the outreach workers lose contact with the homeless due to the cleaning of the camps. File Photo / Stacy Harrison

MANCHESTER, NH – About three weeks of work and Manchester’s new homelessness initiatives manager Schonna Green already has kitchen plans.

Green told Manchester Ink Link on Monday that she plans to unveil a new website in the coming weeks, which will provide useful information to residents, services for homeless people and announce new housing initiatives aimed at addressing the one of the long-term causes. homelessness: a lack of affordable housing.

“We are transitioning to our Housing for All initiative,” Green said.

She said more details would be announced with the launch of the website, but she said they were working to find ways to develop, acquire or restructure available units to create new housing options for them. people of all ages and all incomes.

This can include a wide range of housing types, including single-family, two-bedroom, or single occupancy (SRO) units. She said ORS would be small living spaces for individuals with a shared kitchen and bathroom.

“Similar to what you think of as a studio,” Green said.

Director of Homeless Services Schonna Green.

While some may see this as a low-income option, Green said he would not consider limiting it to only low-income tenants, adding that some single seniors could enjoy the community aspects of living in such a building.

Overall, Green said she and a collaborative team of local nonprofits in the housing and homelessness sector are providing “creative housing options” for a diverse mix of residents.

Green strongly believes in creating homes that serve a representative sample of different demographic groups, which she believes creates a ‘healthy’ community and gives less fortunate children exposure to potentially available economic opportunities, which inspires social mobility. .

So far, two nonprofits are positioning themselves to apply for federally funded grants and working with architects to design potential buildings. Financing for development would be accompanied by restrictions on deeds to ensure that a certain part of the housing stock remains affordable in the long term.

“More nonprofits need to get involved in affordable housing in order to keep the product cheaper for the people,” Green said.

The website will also include links and references to local services and providers for people experiencing homelessness, basic information on what the city can legally do to deal with the housing and homeless crisis. shelter, and a means for affected residents to come together to provide support to the base.

Meanwhile, homeless people in Queen City are signaling to outreach workers that they are increasingly concerned about clearing encampments, and outreach members are losing connection with individuals and the momentum of service to each compensation, according to a monthly report from the Manchester Homeless Outreach Collaboration.

“Individuals are also reluctant to share their next location,” the March report said.

A huge pile of rubbish at the edge of Firestone encampment before the eviction of homeless campers in April from the private woodland. Photo / Carol Robidoux

Police and city officials have eliminated the so-called Firestone Camp last month, located behind Firestone Auto Service on Elm Street. Firestone Auto owns the property and has requested trespassing from the campers, as well as Pan Am Railroad officials.

For some living in this camp, it was not the first time that they had been forced to move. Outreach officers have learned that many of those evacuated from a Canal Street camp under the Amoskeag Bridge in February ended up in Firestone.

While outreach workers say this adds to the challenges, Green said the city is doing it the right way by ensuring that everyone forced to leave a camp has access to a safe, warm bed in one. local shelters. However, there are many who do not accept the offer.

“It’s a balancing act,” Green said.

In March, the city had 25 settlements (up from 22 in February) and 131 “active” homeless people (up from 83), meaning they have had contact with outreach workers in the past 30 days. They were unable to locate 70 people in over 30 days (from 113) and the number of people falling off the radar in 90 days rose to 379 (from 351).

The total census, including all of the above categories, fell from 547 to 580 between February and March.

Source: Manchester homelessness awareness report.

Outreach contacts soared in March to 477, from 227 in February, a modest increase from the low point of 145 in January. The change is largely attributed to warming temperatures, although March also saw a rush to place people in temporary or permanent housing as emergency shelters on Chestnut and Union Streets prepared to close in the end. of the month.

Families in Transition spokesperson Kyle Chumas said case managers were able to place up to 24 people in services as of March 31, which included housing, substance abuse treatment and mental health and veterans services.

One of the successes highlighted in the Outreach report describes helping a medically fragile man in his 50s who had been living homeless in the Manchester area and in and out of the adult emergency shelter since 2019. He has been successfully housed through a subsidized housing program with the help of a local partner agency.

The man is said to be suffering from alcohol abuse. The outreach workers followed the “Housing First” protocols to house the man in the hope of regaining stability and treatment afterwards. The team will support the man for a period of up to 12 months as he makes the transition to permanent housing.

The overall availability of refuge beds was reduced from 190 to 116 at the end of March.

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