Letter: Homeless shelters are nearly always full
We are writing in response to Senior Assistant Attorney General Mary Ann Dempsey’s statement that homeless shelters across the state have available beds (“3 homeless get more time to sue,” Monitor front page, May 21).
We respectfully wonder if Dempsey has ever called any of the 21 shelters across the state. If she had, she would have found that the shelters are almost always full, and only by calling every day, twice a day, would she get a bed. Furthermore, the eligibility criteria for shelters exclude many of the individuals who are currently camping.
Concord’s one shelter for single men and women often fills up shortly after having an open bed. Getting that open bed is all in the timing.
Recently, one Lakes Region town spent 45 minutes calling shelters for an individual and was unable to locate anything statewide. They called Ken Beaulieu, Concord homeless outreach worker for Riverbend, hoping to find additional resources. There were none.
Other cities in New Hampshire are in the same predicament as Concord as far as finding housing for those who are homeless. Homeless advocates, resource centers, 211 and homeless people themselves are all calling the same shelters on the same day.
The larger problem of finding shelter is the question of why individuals can’t be taken care of in their hometown. If a person is living in one town receiving services, why would we assume they would be better served by moving across the state to sleep?
The concept that homeless shelters across the state have available beds is erroneous. There are not enough shelters in New Hampshire to house all the people who need them, and shelters are not the permanent answer anyway.
Thank you, Concord, for engaging openly in this dialogue.
MARCIA SPRAGUE and KEN BEAULIEU
(The writers are, respectively, director of the Concord Homeless Resource Center and a Path Outreach worker for Riverbend Community Mental Health.)