MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday night, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) received an update from Manchester Director of Housing Stability Adrienne Beloin on the Beech Street Shelter as well as an overview on homelessness in the city.
According to Beloin, efforts are underway to redefine and develop the city’s continuum of care and a data hub and data collection software on homelessness issues. Although she said that a comparison between Manchester and other parts of the state is difficult due to different data collection methods, Beloin also provided Manchester-specific data as well.
In that group of statistics, Beloin said that approximately half of those who have stayed at the Beech Street Shelter have some sort of mental health disorders, but the majority do not have substance abuse issues. She added that only 25 percent of guests at the shelter have been in Manchester for less than three months, which is close to the national average.
Beloin reported that only 23 percent of reported incidents at the Beech Street Shelter included a threat to personal safety of the guests themselves or others in the facility and no sexual assaults had been reported.
Findings from the Manchester Police Department indicated that the shelter has helped officers to engage with homeless individuals and had resulted in fewer encampments in the city. A statement provided by the Manchester Fire Department corroborated that there were now fewer encampments with remaining encampments moving more frequently and that the number of emergency calls remained the same but were now less complex.
Within her presentation, Beloin also provided anonymous details regarding participants within the shelter, sharing struggles they have faced through their difficulties with housing stability.
The presentation also provided an overview of strategies on addressing homelessness within the city, emphasizing a focus on more prevention of housing loss and rapid rehousing than a sole focus on emergency shelter.
Beloin only received questions from two members of the BMA.
Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long asked for a clarification on the number of cots versus beds at Beech Street, with Beloin noting that 242 people utilize cots while there are 40 to 46 beds depending on the night. Long also asked why 12 of the 45 individuals served at the Brook Street Women’s Shelter from February to June were eventually housed while only 15 of the 242 individuals that have been served by Beech Street have been housed since February.
Beloin responded that Brook Street had case managers in place for its guests and it was also a smaller facility to manage.
“Even if I wanted my operational staff to also be case managers, you can’t clean a bathroom and fill out an application at the same time,” she said.
Ward 8 Alderman Ed Sapienza asked Beloin if any guests at Beech Street went on to obtain employment. She said some guests had obtained employment, but she could not provide a figure.