Nonprofit Plans Shelter Tailored for Homeless Families

nonprofit plans shelter tailored for homeless families

By DOUG ALDEN
New Hampshire Union Leader
Published Dec 8, 2014 at 3:00 am (Updated Dec 7, 2014

MANCHESTER — Families in Transition has big plans for a new shelter that will provide much more than a roof overhead.

The Family Place Resource Center and Shelter will also include services and resources the nonprofit has lined up to address the needs of homeless parents and their children.

“It’s not about just the three meals and a cot. It’s more than that,” said Maureen Beauregard, FIT’s president and founder.

Beauregard said the project will create safe, private space equipped with a health clinic, employment assistance and a pre-school at 167 Lake Ave., a property FIT purchased from the city about a year ago.

“We’ve really invited other organizations to live with us because there’s no way we could do it alone. It’s frightening being homeless,” Beauregard said.

The former Manchester Community Resource Center already had a commercial kitchen and the kind of space FIT was looking for in a family-friendly shelter. FIT plans to add a second story to the building as living space divided into 11 separate rooms, each with its own bathroom.

FIT hopes to begin construction in June and has launched a final fundraising push for $330,309 needed to meet the $2.1 million budget. FIT already has received commitments for more than $1.7 million and needs to raise the remainder by Jan. 31.

“We raised a lot of money in a short period of time,” Beauregard said.

In order to meet the deadline, FIT sent out a letter last week seeking the money needed to bridge the budget gap and solidify the many steps needed to guarantee construction can begin this summer.

“Like any project of this size and scope, we’ve had things that we thought were going to happen that have fallen through,” FIT board member David Donahue said. “Construction costs continue to rise. The longer it takes us to raise the money, the more expensive this project becomes.”

Donahue said the deadline is critical in order to avoid any further setbacks.

“We continue to do outreach with our donor base, but the well’s only so deep,” he said.

FIT runs the city’s current emergency shelter on Liberty Street, where two families currently share cramped space and single bathroom on the third floor.

Donahue said the building wasn’t designed to be a shelter, but the renovations on the Lake Avenue property were planned specifically for the comprehensive family center.

Something others take for granted like security and a private bathroom can make a huge difference, especially when combined with the services planned by FIT.

“You’re talking about people who are just looking for a touch of humanity,” Donahue said. “A place like this shows the people when they walk through the door that they have value and that other people value them. That’s a big start for these people.”

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