Manchester NH

Manchester NH

why are we "NH Under The Bridge"?

NH Under The Bridge is an organization founded on the principle that in order to end homelessness, people who are homeless must become an organized, effective voice for systemic change.

Our position is that if you lose your housing and chose to live in public spaces rather than go to shelter the police should not abuse your constitutional and human rights! We fight to end selective enforcement of Quality of Life regulations (we ask "Whose Quality of Life" is improved by moving homeless people from public spaces?)

It's not a homeless crisis - it's a housing crisis!

The city's best hope for reducing and preventing homelessness is a commitment to addressing the skyrocketing rents and general housing shortage that plagues NH and drives people by the thousands into homelessness. Yet at the same time as the homeless population continues to escalate, landlords and the city continue to keep buildings empty and gentrify our neighborhoods.

We are a citywide organization and our constituency includes homeless people living in shelters as well as those living on the streets and in other public places. We serve a broad population of people because homelessness cuts across all boundaries: race, ethnicity, culture, gender, family composition, age, sexual orientation, language, etc., but what all homeless people have in common as a community is extreme poverty and social stigmatization.

There are currently over 5000 people in the NH shelter system, In addition the 14.000 people who came forward to ask for help but found no room at the shelters. These numbers do not include street-dwelling homeless people, or the hundreds of families waiting for placement in a shelter, or the doubled-up households throughout the state that go uncounted.

Our outreach targets individuals from within the shelter system, as well as those who are unable/unwilling to live within it. We meet them on their turf and their terms.

NH Under The Bridge was founded on the principle that homeless people have civil and human rights regardless of our race, creed, color or economic status. NH Under The Bridge Was founded by homeless and formerly homeless people. We refuse to accept being neglected and we demand that our voices and experience are heard at all levels of decision-making that impact us.
We oppose the quality of life laws that criminalize homeless people in any form by the city, state and national governments. We work to change these laws and policies as well as to challenge the root causes of homelessness. Our strategies include grass roots organizing, direct action, and educating homeless people about their rights, public education, changing media stereotypes, and building relationships with allies.

"Under the bridge isn't just a place, It's a way of life some have to face cold and alone outside the fortunate can’t live life, cause they can't afford it. Under the bridge isn't a place, it's a feeling you get when you are all alone, no rescue in sight and The only thing on your mind is where you'll sleep tonight"-Jamie Kupchun 1999

about the project

Under The Bridge is self supporting through our own contributions and it survives on God's Providence, through your generosity. We are not a non-profit and do not give tax receipts. Nothing comes in that does not go out directly to the people in need. We dont need money, we need goods and food to distribute.

We can’t measure smiles; how many weeks it takes for someone to finally trust us and tell us their name.
Some get financially better off; they become employed, sober, or qualify for other programs.
Some get off the street,Some don’t. Some die.
We are not in charge of the final outcome but we are able to help along the way with a little compassion and a lot of understanding. Anyone can do what we do.It starts with a smile and a greeting.

We have found that one of the most important things you can offer is your time and friendship. We see the same people every day and make sure we know their name and begin to find out their story. That way we can find out what they need and want instead of having to guess what they could use. Each person is an individual, one may need new socks and someone else would need a toothbrush.
Your friendship is invaluable. Your experience, strength and hope is all you can offer at times, it is essential.

As homelessness continues to increase, so does the outrage of death on our streets. Having a permanent roof over one’s head, an adequate income and health care would greatly reduce the number who die homeless.
Having treatment programs with available drop-in beds would further facilitate the addict into recovery from the street, as is is not normal for a street person to be able to call for a bed daily, as is required now.

I Stand at the Door

By Sam Shoemaker (from the Oxford Group)

I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world -
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world
Is for men to find that door - the door to God.
The most important thing that any man can do
Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
And opens to the man's own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die
On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
Die for want of what is within their grasp.
They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in -
Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
And way up into the spacious attics.
It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
Some must inhabit those inner rooms
And know the depths and heights of God,
And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
Sometimes venture in a little farther,
But my place seems closer to the opening.
So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.
Some people get part way in and become afraid
Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
For God is so very great and asks all of us.
And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
And the people way inside only terrify them more.
Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
For the old life, they have seen too much:
One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
Somebody must be watching for the frightened
Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
To tell them how much better it is inside.
The people too far in do not see how near these are
To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
But would like to run away. So for them too,
I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.
But I wish they would not forget how it was
Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
The people who have not yet even found the door.
Or the people who want to run away again from God.
You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
And forget the people outside the door.
As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
But not so far from men as not to hear them,
And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door -
Thousands of them. Millions of them.
But - more important for me -
One of them, two of them, ten of them.
Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
So I shall stand by the door and wait
For those who seek it.

'I had rather be a door-keeper
So I stand by the door.

Monday, December 1, 2008


The current foreclosure crisis is affecting the entire housing market, including rental properties. Dependent on their landlord to inform them of a foreclosure, renters are most at risk of being evicted with little notice. With lower incomes and fewer resources, their options after an eviction are often limited.

"Homeless rolls grow, worry local agencies"
Needs may be greater than resources
October 19, 2008
A lot of people are a paycheck away from becoming homeless, homeless advocates say. But John Patten wasn't.
After he lost his job, Patten received unemployment payments for 13 weeks. He had skills to fall back on - as a carpenter, electrician, plumber, machinist and automotive technician. He had a network of previous bosses and colleagues. The need to support his wife and their 3-year-old daughter gave him all the incentive he needed to look for work. It took several missed paychecks before Patten became homeless.
"When everything's stacked against you and you do whatever you possibly can, use every resource available to you, where do you go from there?" Patten said.
Patten, 30, is one of a growing number of the "newly homeless" in Concord and across the state. As the economy worsens, service providers and homeless advocates say they are seeing an influx of families facing foreclosures, evictions or unemployment who need services, often for the first time in their lives. As opposed to the "chronically homeless" who have lived without regular shelter for years and know how to use the system, the newly homeless can be left adrift, reliant on city and state services and struggling to navigate an unfamiliar network of resources. More and more often, they are families. And with winter coming, providers worry that their resources are quickly becoming inadequate to meet the need.
"The sad, sad, sad thing is that we don't have the capacity to help the number of folks that need it," said Maureen Beauregard, president of Families in Transition, which has 16 apartments with supportive services in Concord for those at risk of becoming homeless. "Unfortunately, people call Families in Transition, we say we don't have openings, perhaps you can go to a shelter or to the city. But all those services are overwhelmed." Families in trouble
Patten's descent into homelessness began with a default budget - one of many that voters across the state passed last spring in an attempt to stem rising taxes. For three years, Patten held a job in buildings and grounds for the Weare School District. As a supervisor, he earned $12.44 an hour, enough to rent a Weare apartment. His wife stayed home with their daughter.
Last spring, Patten's position was cut. He collected unemployment and looked for a job. "I looked everywhere," he said. "It went from good to okay to worse in a few months."
He worked as a grounds manager at the apartment complex where he lived until the complex was sold. He filled out more than 500 handwritten job applications and thousands more online. He contacted his former boss and others at the school district. He went to temp agencies. No one was hiring. "Now that the economy stinks, it's impossible to find any kind of decent employment," Patten said.
Although New Hampshire's unemployment rate remains below the national average - about 4.1 percent compared with 6.1 percent nationally - state experts say that those in the housing and automotive industries, like Patten, have been hit hardest.
Three months ago, Patten and his family moved into the Friends Emergency Shelter in Concord. "It was difficult," Patten said. "I never witnessed, never knew anyone in this type of situation. It was difficult to accept the fact that this was above and beyond my own control, not from bad choices."
Since then, Patten has found three jobs, paying $8 to $10 an hour - and lost them all, due to downsizing and budget cuts.
Many families face similarly difficult economic times, in Concord and statewide. Concord's human services department has seen applications jump by 15 percent over last year, and the average voucher issued has risen from $300 to nearly $350. About 90 percent of the department's assistance goes to rent, said Human Services Director Jacqueline Whatmough. "I've been here since 2001, and it's the worst I've seen by all accounts," she said.
The Friendly Kitchen, a Concord soup kitchen, used to feed an average of 65 people an evening. In recent months, the kitchen has served an average of 85 a night, said manager Jennifer Lombardo, including more families and young people. The food pantry at First Congregational Church has been serving more than 4,000 meals a month to more than 800 people - approximately double the rate of last year, according to the Rev. David Keller.
"The need at this level is increasing in ways that are alarming," Keller said. "The economy pushes downwards, and what happens to the people at the bottom? We used to say you're a paycheck away from being homeless. Now you're a flat tire away from being homeless."
Local shelters and service agencies are already seeing an increase in the number of people seeking help, as well as a change in the population.
Through June, the most recent data available, the state's homeless population has consistently been made up of about 32 percent families, according to Maureen Ryan, administrator of the state Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services.
But anecdotally, the number of families is growing. Often, these are single parents or large families facing foreclosure or eviction. In previous years, the state's homeless hotline, run by the Community Services Council of New Hampshire, averaged seven to 10 calls a day from individuals. Now it averages 10 calls a day, mostly from families.
Deziarae Lapierre, 20, who grew up in Franklin, comes from one of those families. Lapierre's mother is disabled and in debt, and gets $300 a month in disability payments. Lapierre's brother, who is in school, receives $99 a month in child support from his father. Lapierre has been looking for a job unsuccessfully since she graduated from high school. She lost her mother's Social Security benefits when she turned 18.
"That's not enough to feed three mouths, clothe them and take care of rent," Lapierre said.
About two months ago, she and her mother fought, and her mother kicked her out. She has been living in a tent ever since.
"I hope it gets better, but it's only a matter of time that people who are near homeless become homeless," Lapierre said.
Spike in foreclosures
Those who work with the homeless say that rising rents and increasing numbers of foreclosures and evictions are among the biggest problems. Joia Hughes, who runs homeless outreach programs for the Community Action Program for Belknap-Merrimack Counties, said she recently saw a family with six children facing foreclosure after their father lost his job. Sometimes, renters suffer from foreclosures too, when landlords can't pay the mortgage.
"There's a lack of affordable housing, and people are in apartments they can't afford," Hughes said. "When the economy starts to go down, they might have been scraping by, now they can't make ends meet."
Concord has seen 49 foreclosures between January and September, compared with just nine during that time in 2006, said city Finance Director Jim Howard. Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Concord averaged $1,036 as of April, according to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority - a figure that has risen steadily since the mid-1990s.
Beauregard said it is the "worker bees," the people working in retail downtown or at the Steeplegate Mall, who are having trouble. "Even if rents go down to $800 a month, if you're making $20,000 a year, it's hard to pay $800 plus utilities," she said. "There's been a decline in the amount of (federal) housing subsidy that goes out to poorer families, and you really need subsidy to pay rent."
Rent has become the sticking point for William Rider, 31, a welder and painter who used to make up to $30 an hour. The last couple of years, Rider has found it tougher and tougher to find steady work. His skills, he said, "are not high demand" anymore. He has gone to Labor Ready, and has even filled out an application for McDonald's - to no avail. Six months ago, he gave up his $800 a month one-bedroom apartment and moved into a tent.
"You go from the best thing in the world to nothing, sitting in a soup kitchen," Rider said, eating dinner at The Friendly Kitchen.
Meanwhile, costs of food, gas and heating oil are also rising. Lapierre said her boyfriend's food stamps are not enough to get through the month.
Seeking shelter
Patten was lucky: Friends Emergency Shelter had a vacancy when he called. Pauline Lambert, 29, who lives in a tent in Concord, has been less fortunate.
"The shelters are full every time I call," Lambert said.
One shelter Lambert has called is the Edna McKenna House in Concord, which houses 21 single men and seven women. Shelter Director Lorrie Dale said she turns away five to 10 people a day, and women's beds are rarely available.
Dale said residents stay longer than they used to. "Three to six months is turning into six to nine months," Dale said.
Beth, 47, who works as a housekeeper, recalled the struggle she faced to get a bed at McKenna House. Dale would not let residents give their last names for fear of employment discrimination. Beth, who is from Sunapee, had been working at a pizza shop, and her boyfriend was a subcontractor. They were evicted after a dispute over a loan, sold all their possessions and used the money to buy tents. The weather got cold, the boyfriend was wanted for child support payments, and the couple got drunk and argued, she said.
Beth started looking for help, but "I got turned down by every shelter I called."
She ran to the Bradford police station Sept. 25. "The Bradford officer spent two hours looking on the internet," Beth said. "Other shelters had answering machines. They said refer back to the police department. He said 'Who do you think I am?' " Finally, at McKenna House, a person picked up and took Beth in.
The 37 state-sponsored shelters serve an average of 720 people a night, according to Ryan of the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services. An information and referral specialist at the state's homeless hotline said last week that there were approximately five free beds in the state.
"We're already unable to find shelter beds anywhere," Whatmough said. "We're hearing from all kinds of people with emergencies, and this isn't even winter yet." If Whatmough cannot place a person in a shelter, the city must pay for a motel. For the past four fiscal years combined, Concord paid $237 in motel costs. This year, it paid $1,626 in the first quarter.
Keller said that even when beds become available, it may be difficult for residents of one city to move to a shelter elsewhere. "You've gone homeless in Concord, your doctor's in Concord, your job's in Concord, getting a shelter in Dover isn't really going to help you," Keller said.
The state's homeless hotline can refer people to resources, as can local welfare offices and the Community Action Program. A new revolving loan fund has been set up through the Bureau of Homeless and Housing Services to help provide first month's rent and a security deposit to those who are homeless and have an income.
Looking ahead
With winter coming, the biggest worries for many are heat and hot water. "Our concern is if utilities are shut off this winter," Hughes said. "You may have a home, but if you don't have heat or electricity, you really can't stay."
Although it is too early to know the impact of heating oil costs, Whatmough said that in fiscal year 2007, the Concord Human Services Department had just two requests for oil, with a delivery charge of under $250. In fiscal year 2008, which ended in June, the city got 15 requests, costing around $300 for delivery. This year, that same delivery will cost $560, she said. She also worries that the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable, will be embarrassed to apply for assistance even if they need it.
The service agencies themselves are also facing tighter budgets. Whatmough's budget for this year is $388,000, a $10,000 increase over last year. But she worries that it may not be enough - she spent 26.7 percent of her budget in the first quarter. If her budget runs out, she will have to dip into a city contingency fund.
Shelters such as McKenna House are being hurt because donors have been affected by the economy.
Ryan said that during the last recession, in 2001-'02, New Hampshire saw an 8 percent increase in residents using shelters. This year, she expects a similar or greater increase. And with a large budget deficit looming, she does not anticipate that additional state funding will be available for shelters.
For many, the emergency shelters at First Congregational Church and South Congregational Church in Concord are lifesavers. The shelters open in mid-December and can host 30 people a night, with more squeezed in if necessary. Most tend to be those who have been homeless for years, Keller said.
At Friends Emergency Shelter and McKenna House, residents do chores and community service and are given resources to help with apartment hunting or job hunting. At the church, Keller said, there are no support services or expectations for residents, just a warm place to sleep. Anyone is welcome - including those with substance abuse problems or mental illness. "We start with the premise we don't want anyone to die in the winter time outside," Keller said.
For newly homeless families, Keller said, the church may not be the best place. "If a family shows up, we're going to put them up for the night, then we'll get on the phone the next day to see whether there's a place more appropriate than crashing in a Sunday school room," he said.
For Patten, this story may have a happy ending. Tomorrow, he starts a new job doing building and grounds maintenance for the state liquor stores, at $11.85 an hour. When he gets his first paycheck in two weeks, he and his wife will start looking for an apartment. He hopes to reapply for some professional certifications. One day, when he has enough saved, he wants to buy his own home.
Patten is optimistic for himself, but he has little hope for the country's overall economic situation. "Everyone's trying to fight through it just to survive."
And Patten now knows other homeless people. He sees those in the shelter, struggling in the same way that he has. He worries about the others.

outreach crew

the current UTB crew

Ben, newly sober, newly housed and highly spiritual, he believes that all people are children of God and deserving of shelter, safety, security, medical and food.
It is amazing to watch him interact with his peers and watch him grow in the process.

Paul, has been clean and sober almost a decade. He states that he is alcoholic and heroin addict. While he was never homeless in his life, he has had his share of challenges. He says he is looking for his sense of prupose.
He once owned an apartment building, though he lost it as a result of his addictions. He now lives in a small over-priced apartment and works daily to maintain his housing and his serenity.
When he first went out to the homeless camps he remarked " its like when I was a kid and I needed to isolate from my crazy family, the difference is when I got sick of being out there, I went back home"


Terry, has been clean and sober for over two years and believes that by working at a grassroots level, great things will and do happen. He feels a connection to our homeless brothers and sisters and hopes to be able to make a difference in their lives and grow even more spiritually.

Samatha is a college student from UNH she joined us in spring 2008 because she needed 15 hours of community service, she is long done her hours. She stated that working with the people is like caring for her granparents and and other relatives, and she was wholehearted saddened when a man she had developed a friendly relationship died that summer.
she says, ignorance was never really bliss, but now there is no going back.
We love her youthful enthusiasim.

Joe started out in the street right where he is serving now. He has a year and more of sobriety. He said he could easily romantize that it was like on the street, hot days and hard times in apartment, could make him think of the coolness by the river, but by attending to peers he not only keeps himself sober but he is a role model for others who knew him before.

Others come and join us on a drop by basis

and then there's me learning that consistency is essential to building trust.

death on the street

Our friend Joe was a diabetic Christian man who lived outside for the past 10 years. He found that he wasnt comfortable at the shelter because people used profanity. When I first met him he told me if I wanted to know who he was I would have to read the book of Job from the bible. He read the New Testament everyday and at Homeless Memorial Day vigils he sang "Amazing Grace"like an angel.

I wish that his story ended the way of Job when God returned him to renewal and prosperity. "And Job died being old and full of days" I do not know the ways of God, perhaps Joe lived to teach us compassion.

Joe was found in his camp, passed away on May 24th, 2008.
This picture was taken the year he went with us to "Gimme Shelter" a sleepout on the NH Statehouse.

The figures behind him are a visual representation of the persons who had already passed away in NH while homeless.

'Word was he died on the street'
Homeless to honor their friend 'Razor'
October 21, 2008
Monitor file Raymond “Razor” Luoma, who was homeless, died last week. He was well-known to other homeless people in Concord.

The homeless community will remember one of their own, Raymond "Razor" Luoma, at an event Friday night.
Luoma, 50, died last week. "The word was he died on the street," said the Rev. David Keller, pastor of First Congregational Church in Concord, which houses a winter shelter where Luoma had stayed.
The Monitor profiled Luoma last year. He had been homeless for most of his life. Keller said Luoma was a survivor of Eastern equine encephalitis and had been interviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "He wore that like a badge," Keller said. "He thought he was some kind of stuff for having CDC researchers talk to him."
He is survived by two daughters, a brother and a sister. A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. today at Maple Grove Cemetery in Concord.
The American Friends Service Committee will include a memorial to Razor in its annual program Give Me Shelter, which will be held Friday night. The program will include a group of mostly high school and college students sleeping outside to dramatize the plight of the state's homeless population, said Arnie Alpert, the state's program coordinator for the AFSC. The group will set up about 4 p.m. in front of the State House, then will go to the Friendly Kitchen for dinner and return to the State House Plaza for a discussion that will include people


Photo By Preston Heller

Structural Causes of Homelessness

Structural Causes of Homelessness

Betty Reid Mandell
ALTHOUGH THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN some homeless people, their numbers increased dramatically during the Reagan Administration. The federal government cut back on building houses and subsidizing housing for low-income people as well as social assistance programs. Urban renewal and gentrification forced people out of low-rent housing, and wages declined with deindustrialization and outsourcing. Cities used land use policies to help corporations and real estate interests squeeze out the poor.

Even with low wages, many poor people could afford housing if they had access to government-subsidized public housing. However, the federal government has been cutting back on building housing and providing subsidies for housing since the early 1980s. There is a 5-year waiting list for Section 8 vouchers even in special circumstances such as disability or veterans, and no more are being given out. The federal government chose to subsidize private housing for poor people through Section 8 vouchers rather than build housing because it did not want to interfere with private real estate interests. Real estate interests have decimated rent control in most cities, as rents continue to rise beyond the ability of low-income people, and even middle-income people, to pay them.

Many homeless individuals will not go to a homeless shelter because they are crowded and dangerous. If there is no place to store belongings, they often are stolen. Some of the residents have emotional problems which are exacerbated, or caused by, their homelessness. To avoid these dangerous conditions, some people sleep in the streets, in parks, in their cars, RVs, or in train or bus stations. Some live in tents in the woods or build temporary shelters in out-of-the-way spaces in the city, which are often torn down by the city. Some homeless people prefer the freedom and privacy they have in their own encampments to rigidly controlled shelters.

Shelter programs are shaped by prevailing views of the poor, who are considered to be generally inadequate and incompetent and in need of reform.

In "A Roof Over my Head," Jean Calterone Williams expresses this well:
"By making many aspects of their programs mandatory . . . shelters give the impression that homeless people will not take the initiative on their own to look for work or housing, enroll their children in school, or keep their living spaces clean. They must be forced to do so. By mandating budgeting classes, shelters suggest that people become homeless in part because they are irresponsible with their money. It is in a sense a symbiotic relationship: shelter programs influence the ways housed people think about homelessness, the views of the housed public -- whether ordinary citizens or policymakers -- affect the formation of shelter programs and how such programs treat homeless people."

I AM BEMUSED by announcements that come over the radio from time to time by foundations or institutes saying they are studying the causes of homelessness and seeking cures.

In fact, the causes are quite simple and have been studied quite enough. Homelessness is caused by poverty, insufficient affordable housing and insufficient money to pay for housing, and a weak or nonexistent safety net of income maintenance and support services.

It is true that many of the homeless are alcoholics or drug addicts, but they need a home while they are coping with their problem, and they need treatment programs, and both are in short supply.

It is also true that many of the homeless have emotional problems. Who wouldn't have emotional problems if they were homeless? But they need a home while they are coping with their problems and they need support services. Both are in short supply.

A disproportionate number of foster children who have "aged out" of the foster care system are homeless.

A disproportionate number of veterans are homeless. It is the fault of the government that they are in this condition, but the government has deserted them.

A large percentage of homeless women have been abused. While they may need a temporary refuge to escape the abuser and counseling to help them heal, they also need permanent housing, childcare, a job that pays a living wage, and social supports.

The focus on individual problems shifts attention away from structural problems and obscures the real causes of homelessness. It leads to stereotyping of homeless people as deviant and degenerate, drunk or drugged, or crazy. When these stereotypes are embedded in people's minds, they view every beggar as a scammer.

Stereotyping leads to criminalizing the homeless, allowing cities to sweep them from the streets. It gives implicit permission to delinquent thugs to beat them up.

Stereotyping leads to ever-changing policies geared to fixing different target sub-populations of homeless people. There are "periodic calls for local homeless plans based upon the newest policy flavor (and) temporary and local responses to homelessness that fail to address its systemic causes."

"New words on the horizon, Shelter plus Care. Transitional Housing, Permanent supportive housing, work force housing. These words devalue people though they may get grant monies for them. They imply that the people need to be fixed and that the latter workforce housing, is the better deal for a community." Cindy Carlson

The public stereotypes become internalized by the homeless, causing them to try to distance themselves from the "undeserving Other," however they visualize the "Other."

I met many people in the welfare office who told me that they were "not like those others" who are lazy and don't want to work. I told one woman that what might look like laziness is actually depression, and she admitted that she was depressed.

Homeless men resist being categorized as "homeless" because that conjures up the image of a drunken bum.

Homeless women resist being categorized as "homeless" because that conjures up the image of a crazy disheveled "bag lady."

Battered women resist being described as "battered," preferring to see themselves as "survivors."

There is a hierarchy of deserving vs. undeserving in the public's mind. Battered women are seen as deserving because they are victims. Parents and children are more deserving than single men because children are innocent victims.

Homeless men are the least deserving, because they should be working. These images of the homeless help to shape the way shelters treat their residents and the way the residents view themselves.

Even though many women who have been victims of domestic violence are not in battered women's shelters, the women in battered women's shelters often see themselves as superior to homeless women in family shelters.

I end with this

In the book Poor peoples movements Piven and Cloward conclude:
One can never predict with certainty when the "heavings and rumblings of the social foundations" will force up large-scale defiance, although changes of great magnitude were at work. Who, after all, could have predicted the extraordinary mobilization of black people beginning in 1955? Nor can one calculate with certainty the responses of elites to mass disruption. There are no blueprints to guide movements of the poor. But if organizers and leaders want to help those movements emerge, they must always proceed as if protest were possible. They may fail. The time may not the right. But then, they may sometimes succeed.

lost and found

lost and found
joe and Razor dearly missed

Illegal to be homeless-we made the list
Meanest Cities

1. Little Rock, Arkansas
11. Sarasota, Florida
2. Atlanta, Georgia
12. Key West, Florida
3. Cincinnati, Ohio
13. Nashville, Tennessee
4. Las Vegas, Nevada
14. Berkeley, California
5. Gainesville, Florida
15. Dallas, Texas
6. New York City, New York
16. Fresno, California
7. Los Angeles, California
17. San Antonio, Texas
8. San Francisco, California
18. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
9. Honolulu, Hawaii
19. St. Paul, Minnesota
10. Austin, Texas
20. Manchester, New Hampshire

The Criminalization of the Homeless-Homes Not Jails

The civil rights of people experiencing homelessness are continually violated, whether it be by endangering their right to vote, by hate crimes committed against them, by denying children in homeless situations an equal right to education, and even by unjust laws making it illegal to be homeless. NCH is concerned about this illegal disenfranchisement of people experiencing homelessness, and the Civil Rights Project exists to protect the civil rights of people in homeless situations.

July 6, 2004 Union Leader Newspaper
Ex-homeless Mom named to state post

A local advocate for the homeless has been selected to serve as the state field coordintor for the National Coalition for the Homeless Civil Rights Organizing Project...The organizing Project seeks to stop policies and practices that discriminate against the homeless."

And so the work continues.

Manchester's City Ordinances Arbitrarily Used against Person’s Experiencing Homelessness

(B) Exemption: This section shall not apply to the area of a sidewalk encumbered by resturants

Public Urination

NH RSA 645:1, III
Indecent Exposure and Lewdness
Charged as a sex offender

CHAPTER 47 POWERS OF CITY COUNCILS Bylaws and Ordinances Section 47:17
47:17 Bylaws and Ordinances. – The city councils shall have power to make all such salutary and needful bylaws as towns and the police officers of towns and engineers or firewards by law have power to make and to annex penalties, not exceeding $1,000, for the breach thereof; and may make, establish, publish, alter, modify, amend and repeal ordinances, rules, regulations, and bylaws for the following purposes: I. IN GENERAL. To carry into effect all the powers by law vested in the city….XIII. VAGRANTS, OBSCENE CONDUCT. To restrain and punish vagrants, mendicants, street beggars, strolling musicians, and common prostitutes, and all kinds of immoral and obscene conduct, and to regulate the times and places of bathing and swimming in the canals, rivers and other waters of the city, and the clothing to be worn by bathers and swimmers…

Everyday people experienceing homelessness are ticketed for doing things outside that they would not have to do if they lived in their own homes.


Lawmaker wants to outlaw public peeing
Published: October 01, 2007
By The Associated PressCONCORD – A New Hampshire lawmaker says peeing in public exposes a flaw in the law.
Strange as it sounds, Democratic Rep. Stephen Shurtleff says making public urination a separate crime could really help people out.
Currently, there is no state law specifically addressing public urination; it's prosecuted under a patchwork of local and state laws, indecent exposure among them.
Shurtleff says because indecent exposure is a sex offense, multiple convictions could land habitual public urinators on a sex offender registry, a penalty he feels is too severe for the crime.
"I think some of the stigma attached to that is greater than the offense," he said. "It's public urination, and they should be charged with it."
As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Shurtleff, of Concord, is working to rewrite New Hampshire's sex offender laws to comply with a new federal law. Under federal law, those convicted of indecent exposure twice in three years would be forced to register as sex offenders.
Shurtleff said he will push for a law making public urination a misdemeanor.

NH has acute shortage of housing stock 2009
NH has an acute shortage of housing stock, especially of housing (both for home ownership and for rental) affordable to households earning less than area median income. In the past decade we have built fewer than 900 new multifamily units, and some of those have been luxury apartments.
Rents in the southern half of the state have increased as much as 37% over the last 5 years. The state median rent is $978/month, and over $1000 per month in Manchester, Nashua and Portsmouth.
Based on projections from the NH Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau, 65% of new jobs will pay less than the state level "housing wage" of $18.81, the amount needed to afford a typical apartment.
6553 people were sheltered in NH's emergency shelters in FY03, but 13,529 were turned away because there were no available beds. That doesn't count the number of people doubled up with friends or family.

Because of HUD cuts in funding, the NH Housing Finance Authority, among others, have closed their waiting lists for Section 8 Housing Vouchers and will not be able to issue any new vouchers for the foreseeable future. This means that low income families do not have access to subsidies for their rent. where do they go now?
Because land cost and construction costs are so high in most of the state, new construction of affordable housing can generally only be done using various federally funded housing production programs (Low Income Housing Tax Credits, HOPE VI, Rural Housing, project based Section 8, etc.)