Hundred Nights to offer overflow housing at Keene Inn this winter

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Hundred Nights on Lamson Street in Keene. Sentinel File Photo

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Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon told city councilors Thursday night that Hundred Nights Inc., the Keene nonprofit that operates a homeless shelter and resource center, has reached an agreement with the Keene Inn to provide overflow housing for people experiencing homelessness this winter.

The inn will offer 10 beds on an as-needed basis and at a discounted rate to Hundred Nights from Nov. 15 to May 1, Dragon said Friday morning. Hundred Nights will pay $260 per week for a room, compared to the Keene Inn’s typical rate of around $299 per week, she explained.

In a recent trio of letters, local faith leaders had urged Mayor George Hansel and Keene city councilors to support residents experiencing homelessness, given the onset of cold weather.

The letters’ authors noted that 26 fewer emergency shelter beds will be available in the city this winter, since the United Church of Christ and St. James Episcopal Church will not serve as emergency shelters due to concerns around potential spread of COVID-19. Last year, each church offered at least a dozen wintertime overflow beds for Hundred Nights.

In a Nov. 3 letter, leaders from the Monadnock Interfaith Project, a coalition of local congregation members, expressed concern for people currently experiencing homelessness, as well as others who could be evicted this winter due to economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

“We encourage you to find whatever means you can to locate and fund adequate shelter for those in need this winter,” the MIP Guiding Council wrote.

Christian faith leaders criticized city officials in an Oct. 15 letter, arguing that they have failed to help Hundred Nights replace the lost wintertime overflow housing. They urged the city to quickly facilitate Hundred Nights’ move to a pair of adjacent Water Street properties, which city records show the organization has not yet purchased despite having received a land-use variance in September to manage a homeless shelter on the site.

“Perhaps the city needs to consider if they have a problem with 26 people freezing to death on our streets,” the letter’s authors, who included faith leaders from UCC and St. James Episcopal Church, wrote.

The Rev. Cynthia Bagley, a senior minister at UCC, also wrote to city officials in a separate Nov. 3 letter to express a need for additional wintertime lodging.

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