Former police station now officially temporary shelter

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351 Chestnut St. in Manchester

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Tuesday night, the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BMA) finalized an agreement that would transform the former Manchester Police Station on Chestnut Street into a temporary emergency winter homeless shelter.

The proposed location was announced last week after a potential location on Pearl Street quickly fell through.

While the facility will be run by Families in Transition/New Horizons (FIT), which operates the city’s permanent shelter, the official tenant will be the City of Manchester. It was explained that if FIT became the tenant, zoning variances and site plan modifications would be required for the facility to be opened; that could take months while the city could avoid those hurdles since the facility is being used for a public purpose.

Ross Terrio (Ward 7) was concerned about the negotiated costs for the facility (see below), which will be used as a homeless shelter until April. Mike Reed of Stebbins Real Estate and Mayor Joyce Craig told Terrio that the figure included not just rent, but all needs required at the facility such as snow removal and heat.

Mike Porter (Ward 8) also questioned why the cost per square foot was higher than another city-owned property on McGregor Street and also asked about the estimated cost of heating the facility. Reed replied that the cost expectations came from the needs of the previous tenant.

Keith Hirschmann (Ward 12) said he would only support the temporary leasing of the building since the building was sold in 2012 for under $1 million as the police department moved to its new headquarters and now its being listed for approximately $3 million.

Joseph Kelly Levasseur (At-Large) asked a question on the facility’s hours of operation, which will be 24/7 with a 7 p.m. nightly intake for anyone sleeping there that evening.

Craig stressed that the facility was temporary and that the city is not looking to build a second permanent shelter, but is seeking transitional housing for those no longer in need of emergency shelter but still requiring assistance on the road to financial stability.

Earlier in the meeting, she also reported the creation of a new coordinator position that will oversee homelessness initiatives in the city coming in January.

The proposal was approved by a vote of 13-1, with Levasseur opposing.