NASHUA, NH – A $4.5 million transitional housing project is underway in Nashua to bring nearly 50 beds online for families in need by the end of the year.
Family Promise of Southern New Hampshire will be able to house about 25 families experiencing homelessness once this project is complete. The site for this new facility will be located at the former Infant Jesus School which closed in July 2019 after operating in the city for 110 years. Renovations are expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2020.
Executive director Pamela Wellman explained that Family Promise launched their Building Home, Building Hope Capital Campaign several months ago and have since been able to successfully raise over $900,000 through private donations. Last week, officials ended the month of October with a groundbreaking, which Gov. Chris Sununu was present for.
“Additionally, we applied for Governor Sununu’s Housing Rehabilitation Grant Program and were awarded $2.7 million through New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority,” Wellman stated via email.
Family Promise now looks forward to support from the community in raising the remaining $900,000 to reach their goal.
The Nashua-based nonprofit has been providing a home for families for more than 18 years on the grounds of the Presentation of Mary Academy in Hudson, until they found their new location.
“We were informed by the Sisters of Presentation of Mary just over one year ago, that they needed to reclaim Anne Marie House on the PMA Campus Grounds, to once again house Sisters of the order,” Wellman stated via email.
This new location will offer 48 bedrooms for families, which translates to being able to serve about 25 families. Family Promise have entered into an agreement with St. John XXIII Parish to convert the building.
Wellman explained that Family Promise is a national organization based in Summit, NJ, with over 200 affiliates in 44 states. Additionally, there are two other New Hampshire Family Promise affiliates, the Seacoast Family Promise in Exeter and the Family Promise of Greater Concord.
Wellman said Family Promise has seen a consistent increase in homelessness for several years in the Greater Nashua area due to the lack of affordable housing and many other real-life circumstances that brings an individual or family to losing their home.
“Therefore there is a consistent need for additional emergency shelter space and transitional housing facilities,” Wellman stated via email.
This facility is not a shelter though, rather it is offering transitional housing. Emergency shelter space is available in Nashua through the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission and the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter.
“Family Promise houses average working families who through different issues in life, are temporarily misplaced,” Wellman stated. “There is specific criteria for qualifying for residency with us, with consideration to the fact that we house two-parent families, single fathers, single mothers, and families as they identify themselves. We provide a warm, safe and happy home for children and their families.”
Emergency shelter beds scarce in Nashua
As far as emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness goes, the Southern New Hampshire Rescue Mission has about 37 beds available currently, although this shelter offers beds to males only. Executive Director Lloyd Curtis explained that the rescue mission has developed an isolation area due to Covid-19 with six beds set off to the side in the event they experience an issue. Thus far, they have not had any issues with any Covid-19 incidents at the shelter.
However, a shelter in Nashua has recently experienced a Covid-19 related incident that caused them to temporarily shut down.
Executive director at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter Michael Reinke explained that there was an incident that happened the Friday before Columbus Day weekend that affected the Ash Street Shelter, which is their single adult shelter. The facility is now back open and operating.
“We had a positive Covid case and the individual managed to expose all of our staff and so we just didn’t have any staff to open the shelter,” Reinke said.
He also said that all of the single men and the staff were exposed, but that nobody, as far as they know, has tested positive. The Ash Street Shelter offers space to men downstairs and space to women upstairs.
Before the pandemic hit, NSKS provided shelter for 18 single men and 9 single women at their Ash Street Shelter. Then there are a total of 18 beds in their family shelter, which is located on Kinsley Street. The family shelter beds have remained the same but the women’s beds have since gone from 9 down to 6, and the number of men’s beds have gone from 18 down to 10. However, NSKS has also rented a three-bedroom apartment that they are then subletting to people who can afford a little bit of money in rent so three additional spaces.