Oct. 16—CITY ALDERMEN recently received an update on homelessness initiatives, which includes operating a warming station at the William B. Cashin Senior Activity Center on the West Side – if and when others city shelters are filling up.
By definition, a warming station is a short-term, time-limited, non-service facility that becomes operational when temperatures or a combination of precipitation, wind chill, wind, and temperatures become dangerous. The goal is to prevent death and/or injury from exposure to the elements.
Firefighters say the city’s homeless population is “very transient”, making it difficult to get an accurate count. The latest data suggests that there are around 125-250 people in need of emergency shelter services in the city.
Compare that to the HUD Continuum of Care report in 2021, which had 105 unprotected people and 74 in 2020.
Families in Transition operates an emergency shelter at 199 Manchester St. with a capacity of 138 people. FIT also runs a family shelter with 15 units, four of which are controlled by the city’s social service.
Waypoint will open a 14-bed young adult shelter for 18-25 year olds. 1269 Café can accommodate 16 adult males participating in its programs.
1269 Café operates a warming station at its facility at 456 Union Street from December 1 to March 31, which seats 53 people. 1269 Café has the capacity to accommodate up to 70 people on a short-term basis “in extenuating circumstances,” city officials said.
“On average, current emergency shelter use and capacity is consistent with what was known in the fall of 2021,” officials said.
This week, firefighters said they are ready to open a warming station at the William B. Cashin Senior Activity Center when FIT and 1269″ capacity is exceeded and temperatures or a combination of weather factors winter conditions will dictate the need”.
Last winter, Hope for New Hampshire Recovery and 1269 Café operated an overnight warming station at 456 Union St. in Manchester, the site of the former St. Casimir’s School.
The collaborative effort, named “Hope for the Winter at The Twelve,” is the result of the two organizations teaming up to provide homeless people with warmth, coffee and friendly staff from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. each evening at from December 1. until March 31.
Organizers report that the warming station has seen as few as 37 and as many as 81 men and women walk through its doors each night.
Looking for new director
The city began advertising the position of director of homelessness initiatives following the resignation of Schonna Green last month.
“Looking for a candidate with extensive experience overseeing and leading responses to homelessness,” reads the job posting, recently shared with city aldermen. “This candidate’s experience should include working within homelessness in the development, delivery, monitoring or evaluation of community programs, including a supervisory role.”
The position, which remains under the command of the city’s fire chief, carries a starting annual salary of $97,291.94, plus benefits.
Duties include planning, overseeing and directing the city’s response to homelessness.
Other requirements include graduation from an accredited college or university with a master’s degree in public health, social sciences, public administration, or a closely related field; and extensive work experience in the field of homelessness in the development, delivery, monitoring or evaluation of community programs, including a supervisory role: or any equivalent combination of experience and training that provides the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to perform the job.
In the aftermath of Green’s resignation, city departments, nonprofits and national partners came together to determine the best way forward.
Efforts are ongoing, but feedback has been received from stakeholders on what is working and what needs improvement.
Here are some of the comments received:
—Due to the demographics of chronically homeless people in Manchester, the city needs someone with expertise not only in housing development, but also in substance use disorders and chronic homelessness. Overdoses are at their highest level since 2017, and about 50% occur among homeless people;
—There is a need for additional support to address both immediate needs within the community (camps, winter shelters, etc.) as well as long-term planning;
—The fire department is probably the wrong department to supervise this work. They continue to be heavily involved in winter shelter planning through emergency operations and involved in encampment outreach through 1 squad, but lack the expertise in housing to provide the necessary supervision or collaboration;
“The city must prioritize relationships with our nonprofit service providers, identify and address gaps in services and housing, and implement long-term solutions.
The city is set to host a Build Back Manchester community celebration later this week.
The party is scheduled from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in Arms Park to celebrate the success of the city’s regional Build Back Better Challenge grant application. The grant will provide $44 million in federal funding through the Economic Development Administration to establish a biomanufacturing workforce cluster in Manchester. The event is free and open to the public.
The Southern New Hampshire BioFabrication cluster, which would manufacture cells, tissues and organs at Manchester’s Millyard, won the competitive $44 million grant.
The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute, designed by Dean Kamen, is the lead builder and the City of Manchester the lead sponsor among six grant partners, chosen from hundreds of applications under the Build Back Better Rapid Challenge Grant program with the US Department of Commerce.
Paul Feely is the Town Hall Reporter for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Contact him at [email protected]