Woman dies in tent outside shelter

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Police officer checking a tent outside the FIT shelter Sunday. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH –  A woman living in a tent outside the Families in Transition shelter was found dead Sunday.

Manchester Police, fire, and AMR ambulance responded outside the Families In Transition shelter at 199 Manchester Street for an unresponsive person in a tent at approximately 11:25 a.m. She was pronounced dead by firefighters at the scene.

Police closed off the area around Manchester Street and secured the area around the tent where the person was found and began checking on the condition of the people in the other tents.

A local group handing out care packages to several of the people in the tents gathered people to bring them away from the scene where police were working.

Police identified the person only as an adult female at this time. The initial investigation suggests the death does not appear to be suspicious. A local funeral home arrived at the scene and removed the person from the tent.

The sidewalks around the Families In Transition shelter have been home to a number of unhoused individuals who set up tents and make-shift shelters on the sidewalks, which is public property, after being forced out of local parks by the City of Manchester. For several days wind, snow, and extremely low temperatures have been an added challenge for the people living in the encampment.

Many of the people living on the sidewalk encampment had previously been living in several encampments around the city of Manchester until they were removed.

Recently a person died inside the 1269 Cafe, which as been operating an overnight warming shelter since Dec. 1. That death appeared to be related to a medical incident.

>Manchester has seen a growing homeless population and multiple deaths in the last two years. Dozens of small encampments have been established in wooded areas, doorways of businesses, and most recently the bus station on Canal Street.

Mayor Joyce Craig recently said the issues at the shelter are the result of a lack of statewide services for the homeless, noting that every shelter in the state is at capacity. And recently a Maine police department apologized to the city after driving a homeless woman to the shelter and dropping her off. She was returned to Maine the following day.

The city also said the state did not take action when notified in September of an encampment under the I-293 bridge on state-owned property. A recent fire at that encampment forced the closure of the highway for several hours.

About this Author

Jeffrey Hastings

Jeffrey Hastings is a freelance photojournalist and runs Manchester Information community Facebook page.