Addressing the city’s chronic homelessness: A plan that begins with HOPE

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ABOVE: Splash screen for the City of Manchester’s Homeless Initiatives website.

MANCHESTER, NH – The city has launched a Homeless Initiatives website that is centered on HOPE – an acronym for Housing Options Promote Empowerment.

The site is part of the first phase of the city’s focused approach to creating a process that is transparent and inclusive, designed to provide immediate help for those in crisis while giving everyone a way to connect. Schonna Green, the city’s Director of Homeless Initiatives, says the website is the first public-facing step in what will be a long but vital process toward positive change.

“In all humanitarian issues you must have hope – hope that a plan will work. And although we’re immediately focused on our most vulnerable populations, at the same time we have to look at affordable housing for all those who are struggling,” says Green. 

Green began working in the grant-funded position on April 18 and since then has immersed herself in the multi-layered issue of homelessness and affordable housing, an issue that has emerged not just here in New Hampshire but across the country as one that has reached a crisis point.

In June the city announced an Affordable Housing Grant opportunity for which they have earmarked $4.7 million of federal Housing and Urban Development HOME program money. Proposals are being sought for qualifying rehabilitation or new construction projects that fulfill the goal of creating “as much affordable housing as is financially feasible in an architecturally pleasing and pedestrian-friendly way.” Other uses of the grant money, such as market-rate residential space, commercial space, public green space, and public art are encouraged, but not required, as part of the development plan.

Green said she is available to sit down with any interested developer or organizations to help them create a housing proposal. The deadline for proposals is 3 p.m. on July 16. You can learn more here.

The city’s Homeless Initiatives website includes an online “contact” form for any and all comments or questions; a homeless encampment reporting form, which is part of an effort to chronicle the number of encampments that currently exist to best assess the need for emergency housing and strategies going forward; a Frequently Asked Questions section; and a Resource page with practical and legal information and resources, including grant and loan opportunities.


Current RFP grant and loan postings:


Green is preparing to present her comprehensive plan for approval before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in the next few months with a phased-in approach to all levels of housing affordability and chronic homelessness. Some of the ideas and initiatives she has brought forward are included in the City’s proposal for the allocation of $43.2 million in American Rescue and Recovery Act money, including an Affordable Housing Trust Fund.


For more information contact the DHI office at 603-792-3859 hope@manchesternh.gov.


 

About this Author

carol-robidoux

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!