Why A Merger Between New Horizons and Families in Transition Makes Perfect Sense
By DICK ANAGNOST AND DAVID CASSIDY
September 28, 2017
There’s been a lot of talk and articles written about the reasons why and the goals of the potential merger between Families in Transition (FIT) and New Horizons. We would like to clear up any confusion and explain why a merger of our two organizations makes perfect sense.
The core mission and services of both organizations will not change. New Horizons will continue to provide a hot meal, a warm bed, and a box of groceries to anyone who needs it. The New Horizons and FIT staff will remain unchanged. FIT will continue to provide safe, affordable housing and supportive services to both individuals and families experiencing homelessness. This merger is about enhancing services to the homeless in our community. It is not about changing the necessary services both organizations provide.
Using a classic game of baseball as an analogy; New Horizons does a great job at getting adults who are experiencing homelessness and hunger to first base by providing them shelter and food. Families in Transition does a great job at getting individuals and families from third base to home plate by providing emergency, transitional, and permanent supportive housing and social services. That being said, what has become abundantly clear is the gap in services from first-to-third base.
The continuum of care for the homeless sector is fragmented. Coming together under one agency will enable us to integrate services, scale programs where needed, identify specialty services, and eliminate the gaps that currently exist to help better serve those who are in need of services. In essence, under one entity, there’s a higher probability of getting more people around all four bases and becoming self-sufficient.
We need to graduate people from New Horizons to get them the help they need to rise above their circumstances. We feel the most important factor in that graduation is housing: Housing First, respite housing, specialty housing, transitional, and permanent affordable housing. If you can combine getting people the type of housing and supportive services that FIT provides it’s much more likely that, together, we’ll be able to coordinate efforts in getting some of our most vulnerable populations connected with health services, medical diagnoses, substance use treatment and recovery services which will help reduce the number of times people come back through New Horizons.
As two of the largest and most well respected homeless service organizations in the State of New Hampshire, the proposed merger presents a unique opportunity for the City of Manchester to become a model for the creation of a robust and integrated system of care that will lead to tangible results for those most in need including: 1) An increased supply of affordable housing for those most in need; 2) Sustained positive outcomes through the incorporation of evidence based practices proven to meet identified goals; 3) The use of consistent and accurate data to regularly measure success and identify areas for systemic and programmatic improvements; and 4) An integrated and seamless system of care that will prevent homelessness when possible and rapidly rehouse those who become homeless, including both the chronically homeless and those with families and children.
So, what does this mean practically? What if the combined organization could provide a location, separate and distinct from New Horizons current dining room where families could come and feel comfortable and get a hot meal? Or, what if the combined organization could provide more housing units to those most in need, as a bridge, to help them get back on their feet? What if we could help just one more person get back to a place they deserve to be – home.
We hope that the community will also see that we are better together, but we’ll continue to need their support. Yes, people and businesses will be able to designate their donations to the work of either organization or to the combined entity.
We encourage the community to read more about the potential merger by going to the Frequently Asked Questions page at www.fitnh.org/merger-faqs.
Let’s be clear: Our plan, if our boards make the vote to merge into one, will be for two strong organizations to come together, enrich services, and form one entity to enhance one another’s mission. There’s no “mission drift” of either organization. Food and shelter, it doesn’t get more basic than that. Together, as a merged entity, the results will be more people off the streets and into more stable living environments. Better for the people in need of our services and our community as a whole.
Dick Anagnost, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Families in Transition, a nonprofit homeless services agency that provides safe, affordable housing and social services to individuals and families who are homeless, enabling them to gain self-sufficiency and respect.
David Cassidy, Chairman of the Board of Directors of New Horizons, a nonprofit that provides food and shelter to people in need and offer supportive services to achieve self-sufficiency.