Concord City Council hears final report from homelessness task force
The report is 22 pages long, the product of 11 months of work by 26 people on the mayor’s task force to end homelessness.
And at the end of a presentation on that lengthy report from co-chairman David Frydman last night, the Concord City Council wanted a bottom line.
“What do you think is the most important aspect of the report?” Ward 5 Councilor Rob Werner asked him. “What do you think is the one thing that is the most important to make progress on?”
Frydman hesitated, and then responded in a reasoned, thoughtful tone.
“Homelessness and dealing with homelessness is not a simple issue,” he said. “And all of you, I know, appreciate that. . . . It would be very easy to say more housing, more economic activity. Any one part of that affects only one aspect of the issues that individuals who are homeless face and that we as a community face.”
So bringing Concord’s resources for the homeless together in one focal point – such as an expanded Homeless Resource Center recommended in the report – is critical, he said.
“I really do think that the expanded resource center adds that focal point where it’s the providers themselves, the faith communities involved in that, coming together to really figure out how to best use the resources we have to . . . create that integrated response,” Frydman said.
The committee has been studying the homeless community in Concord and the city’s resources since early last year, when Mayor Jim Bouley formed the group. Frydman and co-Chairman Patrick Tufts, president and CEO of Granite United Way, presented the final report to the council last night.
“It’s the collective response to the issue that is so important,” Tufts said.
Their recommendations are vague but forward-looking. The report suggests expanding the Concord Homeless Resource Center to gather all city services for the homeless under one roof, for example, but offers few specific ideas on how to do that.
The report cited data from the New Hampshire Bureau of Homelessness and Housing Services, stating 508 homeless individuals were sheltered in Concord facilities during fiscal year 2012. But the committee’s members did identify a need for more concrete data on the number of homeless in Concord.
Frydman also explained the committee saw a need for more affordable rental housing in the city, where the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority reports the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2013 was $873, and more outreach to let people know what services do exist.
“It could lead to so much more,” he said of the report’s recommendations.
The council decided to hear public testimony on the report at its next meeting April 10. The report is available online at concordnh.gov.
“It’s been a tough winter,” Bouley said. “I think that what you all do in the community . . . it’s really changing attitudes and changing policy.”
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)