City Director of Homeless Services: ‘It’s a huge priority to develop and get creative about how we develop housing’

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From left, Adrienne Beloin, Director of Homeless Services, Andrew Warner, Director of Overdose Prevention, and Jodie Nazaka, Director of Economic Development, listening to business owners during the Jan. 9 session held at Rex Theatre.File Photo/Jeffrey Hastings.

Story Produced by New Hampshire Public Radio, a Member of

Manchester has been at the center of statewide discussions over how to address the growing issue of homelessness in New Hampshire

City officials recently vacated a downtown encampment following weeks of growing complaints from residents and business owners in the area. The ACLU of New Hampshire and other local advocates fought against the eviction. The city cited safety hazards and moved to clear the encampment.

Adrienne Beloin is Manchester’s new director of homelessness initiatives. She first stepped into the role in November.

Beloin joined NHPR’s All Things Considered host Julia Furukawa to talk about her top priorities for addressing the city’s homelessness crisis. Below is a transcript of their conversation.


Julia Furukawa: You’ve had a career in social work in the greater Boston area for over two decades, and most recently, you were the director at St. Francis House, a homeless shelter in Boston. What have you learned from your experiences as a social worker that you believe could be implemented in Manchester?

Adrienne Beloin: I think having people in local government that have a direct service experience, and really kind of have an orientation to homelessness that comes from a behavioral health lens is key in developing the approaches and coordinating the efforts. And what I’ve learned from my career is that engagement is a very complex and difficult thing, and using peers that have actually experienced homelessness and actually experienced addiction and recovery, that is a huge benefit to folks in their ability to engage in services.

And all of those things are not instant. There’s lots of steps along the way in order to make sure those services are provided in a sensitive manner, in a trauma-informed way, in an on-demand way. So those are the kinds of pieces that I hope to engage the city providers in. I can kind of host things at a city level, and use the authority of the city and the decision-making powers of the city to kind of get behind the best practices that rehabilitate folks from homelessness.

Julia Furukawa: A week ago, we saw people evicted from a downtown encampment in Manchester. What has the city done to help those who have been evicted find a place to stay, and what can be done to rebuild relationships with the people who’ve been evicted?

Adrienne Beloin: I think that the relationships with those folks, oddly enough, were not damaged by the encampment change that was made. I mean, there’s an element to the safety of the encampment that was existing outside the [Families in Transition] shelter, which is one of our emergency shelters in Manchester. And I think that ultimately it wasn’t an ongoing solution for people to be able to stay there. That was not going to be a supported encampment where we could have services, and public restrooms and appropriate facilities for folks.

I think what we need to do is provide alternatives to them that are safe and are appropriate for them. And what we’re doing right now is providing warming stations that have a different level of commitment. We’re also creating emergency shelter beds rapidly. So that’s what our emergency operations center has been laser-focused on in these last couple of weeks. And it’s really just a matter of how quickly we can outfit space to accommodate that and how quickly we can staff it.

And then the question really will remain for me, especially as the director of homelessness initiatives, is, I understand, probably more than anyone else from the city departments that emergency shelter is not going to be what every single person suffering with homelessness is going to choose. You know, many of them are looking for independent housing, and many of them are looking for almost a supported encampment environment where they can exist in the privacy of a tent and not have the structure of housing even. And that is something that will remain a question of how best to address the needs of those folks that have those desires.

Julia Furukawa: What are your top priorities as Manchester’s director of homeless initiatives moving forward?

Adrienne Beloin: So there’s all different kinds of groups that have different strengths that are going out and doing amazing outreach. And what we don’t quite have is a coordinated effort of that because they’re all just working independently. So I see a real opportunity for my role to help create that coordination, create spaces where we really collaborate, that we co-train each other, we lean on each other’s resources. And I think that that is a huge improvement to a system that really already has a lot of good bones to it.

Another priority is to access more funding for things that we’re not doing yet. And kind of along those same lines is accessing the resources to create more affordable housing. So we know that there are a lot of people that are visibly homeless in Manchester, and then there’s a lot of people that are invisibly homeless. And there’s a lot of really good efforts to detect that early and to get involved and connect people to services. But what the issue is, is even with all of that paying attention and to having good systems in place to understand who’s at risk, we don’t have places to put people. That’s the big question: Where does everybody go? So it’s a huge priority to develop and get creative about how we develop housing in our city.

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About this Author

Julia Furukawa

Julia Furukawa joined the NHPR team in 2021 as a fellow producing All Things Considered after working as a reporter and editor for The Paris News in Texas and a freelancer for KNKX Public Radio in Seattle.

About this Author

Michelle Liu

Michelle Liu is the All Things Considered producer at NHPR. She joined the station in 2022 after graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in journalism.