MANCHESTER, NH – An empty warehouse building at 21 West Auburn St. is the latest site considered as a potential temporary shelter for the city’s homeless. However, after inspection, the city released the following joint statement by Mayor Joyce Craig, Fire Chief Dan Goonan and Families in Transition Executive Director Maria Devlin:
Today, members of the Manchester Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Families in Transition – New Horizons (FIT-NH) toured 21 W Auburn Street, owned by Ben Gamache, as a potential site for an emergency winter shelter. Mr. Gamache offered to donate the space after he purchased a building, located at 77 Pearl St., that was going to be the temporary emergency winter shelter.
Unfortunately, the space on Auburn Street is not a viable option. This is because:
- There is only one restroom, and more restrooms and showers would need to be added. The proposed location of the new bathrooms and showers is in the middle of an egress pathway and would not be allowed by code.
- There was no clear separation of the proposed emergency shelter space and the rest of the business and industrial space within the building.
- The space is for manufacturing, and not easily accessible.
- The fire sprinkler and alarm system are not currently designed for residential use
- The proposed occupancy capacity would not be safe for the emergency winter shelter.
In summary, this location is a mixed-use property that is not intended for residential use and will not meet the life safety code without significant construction upgrades, which can not be accomplished in a short period of time.
Since June, the EOC and FIT-NH have been working to secure a site for a temporary emergency winter shelter. Many locations are unable to be used, because there have been issues with landlords, locations, building layouts, and more. Winter is here, and we need a building that requires minimal work so we can get people in from the cold as soon as possible.
The previously-identified location at 77 Pearl St. met all the criteria for an emergency winter shelter, which FIT-NH would have used only through March 31st. It is unfortunate the building is no longer available. If another suitable location is not found, we will need to utilize a City-owned building.
Families in Transition – New Horizons, the City of Manchester, and our partners are continuing to work together to find a temporary emergency winter shelter location so individuals who are living unsheltered don’t lose their lives due to cold weather.