Downtown: As new homeless shelter moves ahead, another resource moves out

  • American flags donated by Steve and Susan Duprey hang throughout the length of Main Street in Concord. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 5/29/2017 12:07:57 AM

One resource provider for homeless residents in downtown Concord has received all the approvals it needs to build a new cold-weather shelter, while another is closing up shop after more than six years.

The Concord Coalition to End Homelessness went to the planning board May 17 and won unanimous backing for its proposal to build a 1,480-square-foot emergency shelter at the rear of its existing location, a 0.3-acre lot at 238 N. Main St.

“For the last two years, we have scrambled as a community to try to find a place to have the shelter and an entity to run it,” Executive Director Ellen Groh said, noting that the go-to location and manager won’t be available next winter.

“Through the process of all of this, our agency said, ‘We really need to step up and fill this gap,’ ” she said. “We searched all over for an appropriate property and finally landed right back where our resource center is currently located.”

The coalition plans to build a minimal, rectangular building at the rear of its property big enough to sleep 34 people, which had been about the average nightly attendance over the past two years at St. Peter’s Church.

The planning board’s okay was the last municipal hurdle that the project needed to clear, bringing the question of funding to the forefront. Groh said she would have more to say on that subject in the coming weeks.

A few doors down on the same street, the Open Hands Resource Center will be moving out of its 208 N. Main St. location this week after more than six years.

Marc Johnson, the faith-based resource center’s president, said the nonprofit will continue its work providing hygiene products, food and supplies to the needy by bringing them directly to homeless encampments.

“It’s not going to be a strong presence, no, but hopefully we can resurface in the near future with another location,” he said. “We just can’t afford to keep the place going here physically right now, but who knows where the Lord is going to lead us? He’s got his plans and this is his timing.”

Johnson noted that Open Hands doesn’t receive any government funding and relies on whatever donations it can get. He said the challenge has been that New Hampshire is one of the least tithing and least churched regions of the country.

“It’s tough to get financing, unfortunately,” he said. “It’s pretty devastating to all of us. (Closing) is not anything that we want to do.”

After 6¼ years of operation, the resource center will close Tuesday.

Memorial Day

City offices and the library are closed for Memorial Day, and trash collection is pushed back a day.

The Memorial Day parade will begin at 9 a.m. Monday, departing from the parking lot of the Burlington Coat Factory on Storrs Street and proceeding up Pleasant Street Extension onto Main Street, Court Street, North State Street and Capitol Street to the State House plaza.

Along the way, it’ll pass new American flags donated by Steve and Susan Duprey and placed throughout the length of Main Street.

(Nick Reid can be reached at 369-3325, or on Twitter at @NickBReid.)

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