Homelessness in Manchester: Poll results and reader solutions

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MANCHESTER,  NH – Last week, we asked you for your thoughts on how to address the issue of homelessness in Manchester as well as how Mayor Craig is handling the issue in Manchester Ink Link’s first-ever Question of the Week.

Stay tuned for our next Question of the Week. In the meantime, the results from the poll questions as well as ideas from non-anonymous respondents for addressing homelessness can be found below, with responses separated by ward.

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Ward 1 Responses

“Increased sheltering in an abundance of communities, while we work towards lowering the cost of living here.” – Edward Doyle.

“Get ALL social services be it addiction..mental…Drs..housing….food…financial…at one time. Then talk to each person and have them go to the next person that they need…all under one roof…won’t be able to reach all but worth a shot…no one likes to be sent to another…easy not to…one stop shopping to help wouldn’t hurt anyone……” – Kim Guertin.

Zoning changes.

Downtown Manchester has no fewer than 40 non-profit, social service agencies within 1/2 a mile from the City Libray. All these organizations are “helping” to support complex issues such as homelessness, drug abuse, alcoholism, pregnancy, food insecurity, unemployment.

For this reason, our city core has attracted individuals from across the State and region who desire and need these services.

The density of these social service agencies has become unsustainable for a city of our size.

Re-zoning to limit the number of the “helping organizations” in a balanced way with businesses and residences would help downtown thrive once again.

Perhaps the Mall of NH could be repurposed to house these 40 agencies and any new ones looking to help. This could be a central point of coordinated social services while making downtown a fertile ground again.

For anyone really interested in evaluating the zoning problem and helping find realistic solutions, I encourage a visit to the Currier Museum to see the Exhibit on cartography of Manchester by Larissa Fassler.” – Jason Soukup

“For those who wish to live outside in tents, there should be a designated land set aside with trash receptacles and portapotties to foster a tent community. Handouts never help without hurting, so I’ve thought about ways that this land could be purchased by an individual, much like last century’s affordable mill-housing for families (no down payment but ownership after a certain number of years), and then bought and sold. This land should NOT be in the middle of Manchester downtown, as already too many services are centralized there. An accessible bike path from this community into town would be better than centering this community IN town. Perhaps it could be in a neighboring town where land is more available..This could be a public/private partnership. It would address those houseless individuals who choose NOT use traditional shelters and prefer their current outdoor situation. There are many that fall into this category, but they cannot reside on public property, taking away valuable green spaces from other the city residents.” – Elizabeth Soukup

“There is no easy answer. We do need some more low cost housing however all of these individuals are not from Manchester. The state needs to step in. They could use empty buildings at YDC to house these individuals and provide counseling and mental health services along with job training to get them back on a road to independent living.” – Tricia

“This is a statewide problem, not just Manchester’s, and they need to do much more, and take more responsibility- in term of money and resources” – Bill

“More housing – we can start with demolishing the YDC!” – John Noblansky

“We need a campground that folks can stay at if they don’t want to or can’t stay at a shelter. Then we need transitional housing being built to get the from the streets/woods into permanent housing.” – Brandon Lemay

“prohibit it.” – Jh

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A campsite along the railroad tracks behind the Firestone automotive building. Campers have been told to be gone by April 15. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

Ward 2 Responses

“Stop giving them services. Close up don’t let people from out of town move here and take advantage.” -A.H.

“Make an encampment at the Sununu Center. There is plenty of land there. The state could provide t he land for free as well as security. Something they should already be doing so it won’t cost them another dime. If the person has some sort of income – disability, unemployment, social security, etc. 40 percent is taken out of the check for rent on the land. 10 percent is used by the state for port a potties, 30 percent is put an account on behalf of the person. They can keep the inside of their tent as they see fit, but outside the tent must be kept clean. If the city or someone else has to clean the area that is paid for out of the thirty percent. When the amount in the person’s account is equal to first and last month’s rent, the city will use that money for that person’s first and last month’s rent. During the time at the encampment, residents will need to take life lesson’s-budgeting, getting sober, cooking on 3 dollars a day, reading lessons, book talks, mental health counseling, bussed to the college to learn hvac, welding, etc. There is no reason why so many resources are going to such a small number of people over and over. They are robbing our children of better schools, seniors from safe housing, and the general population of better roads, staffed parks, etc. If a person can’t make it with all this help, maybe Manchester is not the spot for that person.” – Bob Martin

Ward 3 Responses

“Search for funding of the small portable housing unit that has been brought up already. Work towards finding the appropriate funding and adequate land to put these homes and actually start working towards something that will actually help” – Hailey Gallino

“Offer homeless shelters,/ support / employment programs. Arrest vagrants who choose not to stay in shelters – you can’t just decide to “camp” wherever you want.

Incent vagrants weekly who clean up city … by the bag of trash they clean up.” – Mike M.

“I don’t think the state or nation have good policies toward homeless. The lawyers have tied the cities hand in many instances. The state is more than happy to send their citizens to manchester. We need a crack-down on homeless and panhandlers. I cant leave my “luxury” apartment and walk to a locally owned cafe due to my not wanting to be accosted by someone asking me for money and not taking no for an answer. Where are my rights in all this. I no longer walk to work. These are things that affect our environment and my health. If a homeless person isn’t a citizen, deport them. If their last know address is concord, send them back to concord. I lived I new Zealand for one year. To do so I had to show bank balances to prove I had enough money to live for that year despite being employed. Other countries don’t accept outsiders who are going to be a drain on society. There are agencies set up to help people get jobs. There are employers limiting hours as they can’t get employees. Anyone who wants a job, can have one. We need to stop handing things without education. I know someone who didn’t get a foodbox as they didn’t know how to cook things. I have to cook my own food. I work 50 hours to afford my housing and needs. I watched you tube videos on how to stretch food, how to cook potatoes 100 different ways. Going out on a Friday or Saturday am for a cup of coffee is my one luxury. The homeless shouldn’t be given anything. alcohol needs to be banned in open containers. And enforced. There are plenty of things they could be doing , starting with cleaning up their own area. Want help, ask. Don’t want help, don’t expect anything. With all this money being thrown at us…we are not using it wisely. Money isn’t an answer, let’s try no money and some effort to and good faith on those that are homeless. When I offer a meal instead of cash, don’t spit on me.” – Connie

“Stop doing what we are doing. We are allowing people to trespass, litter, and not be held accountable. We as a community provided housing for everyone. I would like to see daily occupancy numbers for the shelters. We provided sanitation and food for those who chose to live outside on public property. It took people in hazmat suits to clean it up. Crack down and enforce the rules. Can’t live by common rules as clean up after yourself, be productive, than move. There are free college classes, the city pays enough rent, soup kitchens and the food bank give food, healthcare comes to them. The city went and hired a homelesS guru while we are doing nothing to help the gurus who have worked for the city for years. Society, including the homeless and addicts have let them burn out. Why are we allowing such a small group to drain us spiritually and financially? I will vote for whoever states they will force the homeless to get a job, work for every hand up. Bring back tougher drug laws. You use, you do time. Why are we rewarding those that do illegal things?” – William

“Having lived through it for a number of reasons there is really not one person to blame, the system does not work for the homeless and most of the homeless need help both physically and mentally and the shelters in manchester (run by Families in Transition) do not provide the services or help they need. The shelters are loaded with people using drugs and alcohol and are enabling the homeless to continue their behavior and one man was killed over there and this will continue unless you stop the cycle. I was very lucky to be able to stand up for myself and when I did they (FIT) through me out of the shelter. People who know how to help these people must be able to help! Families in transition do not provide the help that people really need. Everybody has to stand together to solve this problem!”– Arthur Scott

“There is no political answer. We as a complete community must face up to the problem and overtake all of Debbie Downer statements. We need to be fair with the homeless and realize that many have needs that must be addressed. The drug problem magnifies this in Manchester and could be addressed with the removal of all drugs from our community. Those that can work should be given an incentive to work and keep on working. Alderman Long had a great idea but NIMBY will prevail at all costs. I read the Victoria Sullivan announcement, she has the answer, please read my first sentence. This problem goes way back to many of the Mayors prior to Craig. We bought the homeless one-way bus tickets to other cities. They did the same for us. We beam out that we have this big giant NH advantage over everywhere else, we do not tell any one that about 123,000 of us work in MA. Money is better and many of those workers can afford housing.

I would have a bit more respect for some of the homeless if they kept their area clean and neat, I believe that they all have that capability. I owned a home for 41 years and kept every aspect of the neighborhood neat and clean. I would complain if my neighbor left a mess on my street. This is a part where if you want to be part of a community you become the community.” – Joe

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Homeless camp on the Hillsborough County Superior Court-North lawn. The state has issued a vacate order which went into effect on Nov. 16, 2020. Photo/Stacy Harrison

Ward 5 Responses

“The mayor’s hands are tied on this. We need to separate those who are homeless by choice and those who are homeless by circumstance. The media seems to find homeless who say they are homeless by circumstance and they only need a hand up. I went and found one of those interviewed and offered him a job at above minimum wage, a place to shower, buy him boots and work clothes. he turned me down. This was pre covid and the job was working outside. Enough hand-holding. We as a society have handheld and spoon-fed too much. If you can’t meet society’s expectations AND you do social unacceptable things, like public displays of drunkeness, litter so much that a hazmat suit is needed and the like then you have lost your ability to get handed things. Manchester gets dumped on. We do need more housing and let the market dictate what type. I have worked hard and why should I be forced to pay for others who drink and drug all day long?” – Brad

Ward 6 Responses

“We need to begin by establishing a commission to design and conduct a comprehensive study to discover the contributing factors of homelessness in Manchester which asks questions about how prevalent problems relating to mental health, living skills, substance abuse or misuse, relationship quality, instability, and loss, pervasive emotional states not necessarily meeting the criteria for mental illness such as hopelessness and despair, the cost of living, income generation potential, available affordable housing and other variables are which may contribute to homelessness.

From there systems may be developed to help people in these situations so that rock bottom isn’t quite so low, lasting and damaging. However, I must be blunt: Given historical responses to homelessness solutions are rarely comprehensive enough, meaning that they rarely go “all the way.”

New Hampshire needs to go all the way in regard to homelessness, meaning that we simply don’t allow our citizens to live in such situations. We consider it a moral and ethical matter. We help them until they are back on their feet, comprehensively.” – Scott Daneau

“Provide real housing for all, then get them the services they desperately need. Defund the MPD to help cover the costs.” – Sarah Wells

Ward 7 Responses

“If the people have no ties to Manchester, they need to go back where they do have ties. Anyone not in the country legally needs to be deported. Anyone who lives in an encampment that has to be cleaned up more than once needs lose the privilege of living in Manchester. Littering needs to be made against the law. We had a homeless group live near us, they brought their rubbish out every week in a city-approved garbage can. People in the neighborhood gave them cooked food, blankets, water, etc. They chose to live that way but kept a neat campground and asked nothing from us. I lived in my car for two years, showered at the gym, worked a job. The ACLU protecting homeless, panhandlers rights is infringing on my right to walk down the street and not be accosted/harassed. Give homeless structure and rules. Most have an income, move them to places that fit that income.” – Alyson

“Housing. Mobile homes, hotels, rooming houses. These are state issues not city issues. Providing services at these sites similar to a campus feel – how about using the state-run Sununu Center – plenty of room there.” – Don

Fire Chief Dan Goonan and Fire/EMS Officer Chris Hickey do rounds at an encampment for the homeless under the Amoskeag Bridge on May 15, 2020. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Ward 10 Reponses

“Definitely need some rent controls put in by the BMA, they had no trouble doing this with taxicabs a few years back. Some lower-income housing built, getting rid of the cuts to NH’s mental health budget that the republicans cut drastically over 10 years ago and now look where we are. 75% of these people have mental health issues. A society that doesn’t take care of their poor, downtrodden and mentally unstable people get what they deserve. More Mercy is needed in this World.” – Joanne Palys

Ward 11 Responses

“Decent affordable housing.” – Carola Beasley-Topliffe

Responses from Readers Outside of Manchester

“Conversion of some city-owned buildings to low rent apartments, increases in low rent apartments (stipend availability for landlords) giving first preference to families with children, adequate support for shelters, increases in social workers and mental health professionals and addiction professionals on the streets to assist those with mental illness/addiction reluctant to use available resources.” – Hollis McGuire

“Stop inviting people from outside of Manchester creating a larger problem. More services, bring more people, more than 50% of the homeless aren’t from this area.” – Scott Jeffries

“Services for mentally Ill, alcohol., drugs and the poor!” – Holly Graham


About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.