MANCHESTER, N.H. – An attempt to phase out Manchester’s Safe Station concluded at Tuesday’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) meeting, but not before another discussion over coordination between the city and state.
The proposal from Ross Terrio (Ward 7) was not recommended in committee earlier this month, with Terrio asking that the BMA table the proposal pending additional study and additional discussion with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to see if Manchester could obtain a 24/7 Doorways program comparable to Nashua’s recent transition, ending the program that has provided immediate relief to those seeking help with drug addiction.
Terrio said he recently had an informational meeting with representatives of DHHS along with Mike Porter (Ward 8), Pat Long (Ward 3) and Keith Hirschmann (Ward 12) regarding whether the state could provide financial assistance to expand Manchester’s Doorways program from its 9-to-5 weekday current schedule to follow Nashua’s lead.
This meeting brought criticism from Kevin Cavanaugh (Ward 1) and Mayor Joyce Craig, with Craig stating that she has posted minutes of meetings she had held with state officials in the past, stating that such discussions should be done in the public view. Craig stated that she and city department heads were not invited to the meeting.
The mayor also clarified in a memorandum to the BMA (see below) that the city received just over $1 million, which went in part to the city’s fire department to help those in homeless camps with medical assistance. However, she also noted that much more went to non-profit organizations in an approach lacking a state-wide comprehensive plan.
Anthony Sapienza (Ward 5) agreed, stating that DHHS representatives should provide a presentation at a special meeting if state funding for 24/7 Doorways expansion becomes a possibility. Sapienza also doubted that support from the state would ever come, referring to Concord as “knuckleheads” and stating that aid that has come for the state, such as through needle exchange programs, have been counterproductive.
Porter said he would appreciate an informational special meeting but said that Sapienza’s rhetoric has led to the state’s lack of collaboration with the city in the past.