Blighted building now home to 4 families, thanks to Families in Transition – New Horizons
MANCHESTER, NH – Housing the “very poor” is still New Hampshire’s biggest problem, says Maureen Beauregard, President of of Families in Transition – New Horizons.
On any given day, FIT receives more than 30 phone calls from families asking for help in finding emergency housing situations.
It’s an uphill battle, but there are victories at every turn. Such is the case with the July 18 ribbon cutting ceremony at 393 Spruce St., a newly refurbished four-family unit, an example of FIT’s every day mission to provide affordable safe and decent living spaces for the city’s most vulnerable.
“This is four units. While it’s not going to fix everything, it’s four units. There will be four individuals and four families here, and what’s really cool is the neighbor next door redid their building, and next to that is a half-acre property we’re going to convert into a community garden. It’s not just going to be squares with vegetables in them. We’re going to make it into a landmark, a showplace, something that people are going to say, ‘Holy cow: Every neighborhood needs one of those,’” Beauregard says.
The Spruce Street building was once an eyesore, a blighted property that was home to squatters. Now, it will be the centerpiece of this neighborhood’s continued revitalization, says Beauregard.
The reconstruction project is the first one completed using Housing BeneFITs, a Community Based Housing Development Organization (CHDO) organized in 2009 in response to encouragement from both the City of Manchester and the New Hampshire Housing and Finance Authority. Beauregard thanked Mayor Gatsas on behalf of the city and the state’s Department of Housing and Urban Development for making the project possible, along with the endless army of volunteer and community partners, including Housing BeneFITs chairman, local developer Dick Anagnost.
“This project is our 20th. It happens slowly, but it ends like this,” Beauregard said.
At a time when the city’s economic and social issues seem to be overwhelming for so many, Beauregard says she remains optimistic because of the small victories that mark progress.
“I see the successes. My office is in one of our buildings that has housing, and I get to hear the kids running upstairs, and I know that for the families we’re working with, that we’re doing the next right things for those families,” Beauregard says. “And I also know that we have to help these adults really get on track so their kids’ lives can get on track and we can break this cycle of poverty.”
Anyone interested in helping should check out the FIT website – volunteers are the backbone of the operation, and are always needed, Beauregard says. And it’s the best way to show the community the good work the organization is doing every day.
“We need people who are here, in it with them, working side-by-side with these families. How else will the community learn who these people are? If you’re working side-by-side with these families, you’ll do what I do – you’ll fall in love with them, and you’ll stick around,” Beauregard said.
Families in Transition – New Horizons Offers:
Transitional Housing (52 units) for homeless single women and single mothers. Participants reside in independent housing units for 18-24 months, during which time they receive comprehensive supportive services to help them attain and maintain long term housing stability.
Permanent Supportive Housing (72 units) homeless single men, single women, single mothers with children, and single fathers with children. Participants receive comprehensive social services enabling them to remain permanently housed.
Permanent Affordable Housing (32 units) for low- and moderate-income individuals and families. These units provide much needed affordable housing within the city.
Intermediary Housing (11 units) for single women and single women with children in need of shelter while they wait for a Transitional or Permanent Supportive Housing unit to become available.
Emergency Family Shelter (11 bedrooms) The Family Place Resource Center and Shelter opened in January 2016 and is the only emergency family shelter in Manchester.