MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday night, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to accept $3.39 million in grant funding to assist low- to moderate-income Manchester residents, small businesses and non-profit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding includes acceptance of a $1,046,487 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and $2,350,270 Emergency Solutions Grant (EGS), both of which were allocated to Manchester through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
The CDBG funding provides emergency housing assistance aid, small business grants and job training for low and moderate-income individuals impacted by pandemic as well as meal delivery for those in quarantine and COVID-19 testing supplies.
The ESG funding will be dispersed through local non-profits and city departments to help those struggling to pay rent or security deposits due to the pandemic, particularly homelessness issues such as rapid rehousing, homeless prevention and emergency shelter renovations.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of many people across our city. This funding will deliver critically needed assistance to members of the Manchester community who need help the most – from expanding emergency shelter beds, to paying rent, to keeping a small business afloat,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “I’m grateful for the additional federal funds allocated to help Manchester address the COVID-19 crisis during this challenging period in our city’s history.”
Individuals, businesses, or nonprofits interested in receiving grants to support their COVID-19 response should contact Todd Fleming at email@example.com or call 603-624-6450 for more information.
Ward 3 Alderman Pat Long urged the board to use this funding to provide long-term solutions toward ending the city’s homelessness problem while also providing more mental health assistance for the city’s homeless population. Craig reminded Long that the funding being provided is restricted to COVID-19-related homelessness issues only.
Concerns among members of the board led to the possible idea of a permanent homeless camp somewhere in the city. That idea came from the view that many homeless people in Manchester did not feel comfortable sheltering at the city’s main indoor shelter, Families in Transition/New Horizons, or the temporary camp underneath the Amoskeag Bridge and were migrating to nearby neighborhoods, parks and the downtown commercial district.
Mayor Craig reiterated her stance that the Amoskeag Bridge homeless camp should be temporary, adding that if such a camp were the only one in New Hampshire or New England then it would become a magnet for homeless people throughout the region, only adding to the burden Manchester takes on in addressing the Granite State’s homeless problem.
Manchester Police Department Chief Carlo Capano told the board that he is also seeking JAG Grant funding to help address the homelessness problem in the city, which has overwhelmed the department’s community outreach division.
Capano said that recently he has driven by the camp approximately two to three times a day and his department is receiving approximately one call per day related to the camp, with plainclothes officers on site addressing the issue of drug and alcohol use at the camp.
Capano and Manchester Health Department Director Anna Thomas indicated that it’s become hard to help residents of the camp, as they often omit facts when talking with city officials and often ignore rules related to things like drug use or social distancing.