Manchester task force unveils recommendations for solving homelessness in city

Experts urge people not to give to panhandlers


June 3, 2019
Amy Caveno

Homelessness in the Queen City is complex and costly, but community leaders say it is a solvable problem.

At a public forum on Monday night, Manchester city officials, homeless advocates and residents addressed a number of issues related to homelessness.

“Ending homelessness is a community effort, and I’m so grateful for all of you being here,” Mayor Joyce Craig said.

Representatives from New Horizons shelter said it would soon be adding daytime hours and making changes to its facility.

“We’re renovating the second floor, thanks in part to the Manchester mayor and board of aldermen, because people didn’t feel safe, and quite frankly, didn’t want to use the facilities, nor would I,” said Maureen Beauregard, president of New Horizons and Families in Transition.

A young couple came prepared with notes, names, dates and times, asking why more can’t be done, particularly regarding the so-called street homeless.

“I’m pretty sure, in my opinion, that they’re not looking for help,” Howell Griffiths said. “They’re happy with the way things are and they can get by with it.”

Community leaders and police agree that a small number of people on the streets are not interested in receiving services.

“We have about 150 people a night who sleep at New Horizons, and this group is absolutely taking their reputation by storm,” Beauregard said.

Experts urge people not to give money to panhandlers – a simple enough suggestion, but the issues are complex, often involving drug addiction and mental illness.

“These are not poor choices,” said Ward 2 resident Jake Berry. “These are diseases to be treated, not arrested to get out of.”

Several people who were formerly homeless attended the meeting. Jeff Duhaime said carrying his life on his back made applying for jobs difficult.

“I was volunteering at these places beforehand and being part of it firsthand was a real eye-opener, learning experience,” Duhaime said.

The city’s homelessness task force, which was formed in February, started with 38 stakeholders and grew over eight weeks to 60. The task force’s 30-page report of recommendations can be read here.Follow this story to get instant e-mail alerts from WMUR on the latest developments and related topics.

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