SHELTER UPGRADES AND EXPANSION COMPLETE
September 24, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Michele Talwani, (O) 603-641-9441 ext. 239
Unprecedented Numbers Is a Public Health Emergency
MANCHESTER, NH – With the recent financial support from the City of Manchester, Families in Transition – New Horizons (FIT-NH) made significant improvements to the services and facilities at its New Horizons shelter at 199 Manchester Street, Manchester, NH. Updates included, an increase in the number of shelter beds from 76 to 108, upgrades to the building’s original bathrooms and an increase in case management staff. Due to the recent unprecedented increase in the number of people coming into and standing outside of the organization’s New Horizons shelter, for safety reasons, FIT-NH is making changes to its shelter policies effective October 1, 2019.
“We are grateful to the Mayor and Aldermen for their investment into our shelter as we were able to increase the number of beds by 42% and have been able to engage with more people in our day programming because of the increase in case management staff,” expressed Stephanie Savard, Chief Operating Officer. “That being said, look around the City of Manchester, especially within the last few months, you’ll notice a dramatic increase in the number of people who are homeless and in need of shelter services.”
A year ago, the shelter averaged 86 people per night. Now, the shelter is beyond its capacity of 108 beds and is sheltering over 130 people every night, even in the summer. In fact, one night in August, there were 163 shelter guests. This is an 89% increase from a year ago and the winter hasn’t even arrived.
“Safety of our staff, participants, volunteers and vendors who utilize our facility is our number one priority,” continued Savard. “The dramatic increase in demand for shelter services, topped by increases in substance misuse that is causing unpredictable, aggressive behaviors across the city, has become a public health crisis. Setting a cap on the number of people we can serve is extremely difficult, however, we are only one organization and even with the expansion of beds and programming, we are way overcapacity. ”
Program changes will be made to maximize safety for all who access the New Horizons Shelter. They will be effective October 1, 2019:
- New Horizons Day Resource Program (access to lunch, restrooms, laundry, and supportive services) will only be offered to individuals who are engaged in the organizations supportive services.
- Overnight shelter services at New Horizons will be for 108 people. However, through short-term funding for this winter only, 30 overflow mattresses on the dining room floor will be offered.
FIT-NH is looking to partner with the State of New Hampshire, Mayor of Manchester and other city departments, as well as other service providers to find solutions to address this public health issue, including immediate and long term solutions that will ensure that all people who are homeless in Manchester have access to safe emergency shelter. It is critical for other social service agencies and providers, hospitals, cities and towns throughout New Hampshire to be aware of these changes and understand the impact that they may have on their referrals to the shelter.
With the increased number of people accessing the shelter and the need to have a lower staff-to-participant ratio to ensure safety, the organization’s costs have increased significantly. The community can help with these costs by donating at support.fitnh.org/donate. In addition, if anyone is interested in second and third shift work, they can apply at www.fitnh.org/employment.
Families in Transition-New Horizons (FIT-NH) provides hunger relief, emergency shelter, safe affordable housing, and supportive services to individuals and families who are homeless or in need, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect. For more information about FIT-NH visit www.fitnh.org, www.newhorizonsnh.org, or call 603-641-9441. ###