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.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Billy Beaulac

Published on Concord Monitor (

Home > 'We were always glad to see him'


'We were always glad to see him'
By Ray Duckler
Created 09/25/2010 - 00:00
Friends remember homeless man
Few people eating lunch at the Friendly Kitchen yesterday knew that their friend, Billy Beaulac, had died.

Word of the 46-year-old homeless man's death set off a chain reaction of emotion, widening eyes through the dining room and stopping forks in midair.

"Billy?" Cori Edwards asked upon hearing the news. "Oh my God."

The police found Beaulac in his tent Thursday in a wooded area near the Concord/Bow line. It was unclear yesterday how he died or how long he'd been dead. The state police suspect past medical issues played a part.

What's clear, however, is that Beaulac made his presence known. That became obvious when Edwards quickly rose from her seat, leaving her food and pigtailed 13-month-old daughter, Tessa, behind. She ran outside to cry alone, then came back, composed and reflective.

"He loved my daughter," Edwards said. "He'd go out of his way to be nice to her. He was the local drunk, but he was sweet."

Everyone said the same thing about Beaulac. He drank too much. He fought a lot. He tried to dry out. And he was loyal like Lassie.

Beyond that, Beaulac was a mystery to his friends here. That's the way it is in the homeless community. Yesterday no longer counts. Today is what's important.

"Nope, never asked him about his past," said Jay Woody, a 27-year-old couch surfer from Concord. "None of my business."

Dig a little, and you find the story of a man born and raised in Berlin who never quite found his niche.

Lise Beaulac still lives in Berlin. She married Billy's only brother, Thomas, who died from pancreatic cancer six years ago. She remembers a good side.

"When he was sober," she said, "and I'm going back as far as a teenager now, when he was a young, young boy he was a sweet kid."

But Lise saw another side. The troubled side. The side that followed her former brother-in-law until he died.

"He lost his mother at a young age and never really recovered from that," Lise said, "even though his family tried to help him."

The road became rough, his drinking a problem. Beaulac spent 20 months in the state prison as an habitual offender. He moved in and out of rehab, forever trying to straighten out. He spent nights last winter in the homeless shelter at the First Congregational Church, where the Rev. David Keller has tried to open doors for the homeless.

"We were always glad to see him," Keller said. "In recent weeks he realized he needed help again. His past created circumstances that made it difficult for him."

His friends at the Friendly Kitchen saw Beaulac's temper, drawn out from beer, sometimes vodka.

"When he got drunk he was a little bit rough, but not too bad," Randall Russell said. "As long as you didn't get on the bad side of him, you were all right."

"He got drunk and did stupid things, but he was an awesome guy," Donna Gove added. "My kids loved him."

Kids were mentioned a lot. They brought out the softness in Beaulac, a light that had been dimmed years before. Others spoke about a guy who always had your back.

"He told me he loved me all the time," Woody said. "He was worried about me. If he didn't see me for a week, when he saw me, he'd come up to me and give me a hug."

Benji Castro says Beaulac saved his life. "I fell in the river once, and he got me out," Castro said. "I knew him for a couple of years. He was one of my best friends."

Castro met Beaulac about a year ago, hosting him at his campsite behind Everett Arena, one of many areas that the city's homeless call home. Some met Beaulac near the railroad tracks behind Market Basket, others under the bridge near Interstate 393.

No one knows how long Beaulac had stayed near Exit 12, off South Main Street. A trip to his campsite tells you Beaulac lived there alone.

Five boulders guard the entrance to a narrow path. Just inside the boulders is a bucket holding trash, mostly coffee cups and plastic water bottles. Empty cans of cat food sit nearby.

The trail cuts to the right, where yellow police tape hugs its edge, twisting like a snake. The buzz from Interstate 93 is audible, the tops of cars whizzing by visible.

A hard left leads you to Beaulac's campsite. There's a tent with a mattress inside, shaded by a camouflage canopy and thick, tall trees.

It's secluded, the perfect space to get away, to hide, to sleep in peace.

There's a gas grill, sleeping bags, three white chairs, boxes of clothing, a big plastic bag full of aluminum cans, blue jeans draped over a branch and work boots sitting side by side near the tent's entrance.

There's also a black leather vest, Beaulac's signature piece of clothing, sitting on top of a black leather jacket, with orange flames on the sleeves.

A fire pit, serving as the living area's center point, contains charred logs, burnt cans, glass bottles and an empty cardboard box once filled with donuts.

An orange and white cat, purring, skinny, friendly, roams around, with no place to go.

(Ray Duckler can be reached at [1].)

Human InterestCONCORD (NH)Billy Beaulac


Source URL:


Friday, October 8, 2010

winter is on the way

Seven Hundred Killed from Hypothermia Annually in United States

Seven-hundred people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. Forty-four percent of the nation’s homeless are unsheltered. From the urban streets of our populated cities to the remote back-country of rural America, hypothermia - or subnormal temperature in the body - remains a leading, critical and preventable cause of injury and death among those experiencing or at-risk of homelessness.
NCH maintains that knowledge, networking and temporary seasonal shelter and outreach are three of the most important elements to an effective regional or local approach to the reduction and prevention of exposure and hypothermia.

This report is a snapshot of winter homeless services nationwide. NCH staff has gathered information for this report from forty states and the District of Columbia, representing urban, suburban and rural communities. NCH interviewed state and local coalitions, healthcare providers, and shelter operators in order to gain the best and broadest possible understanding of cold weather services available through these direct service providers and first responders. There is general consensus among public health officials, medical professionals and service providers that to reduce the incidence of hypothermia nationwide, local communities should implement effective and timely strategies to address the needs of vulnerable populations, including creating temporary homeless shelters and extending the hours of operation for existing shelters.

to get the full report go to

Sunday, June 13, 2010

VASH Vouchers

If you happen to a know a vet in need of housing-send them to local va for info on Vash it is a housing program that comes with 5 years intensive case management, lots of ppl turn them down cuz they dont want interferrence so if you are lucky there might be a few at your local office

Sunday, April 4, 2010

tent city Manchester

just my opinion
the artilce states that "most homeless who live outside can't take the shelters.
"They can't deal with the structure of the shelter," Tessier said. "They have mental health issues, or they are so into substance abuse where they can't deal with the setting."

So if this is the case, and many have been booted out of the shlter and banned for varous periods, including "life" where should they live?

Police arrest two, remove tent city
New Hampshire Union Leader
Saturday, Apr. 3, 2010
MANCHESTER – Two homeless people were arrested on trespassing charges Thursday evening when troopers broke up an encampment near the Queen City Avenue exit of Interstate 293, New Hampshire State Police said.
In the preceding days, troopers had twice warned residents of the tent city to leave the state-owned highway right of way, said Lt. Christopher Aucoin. He said police removed about six tents, which had carpeting inside
"We were getting phone calls from motorists about bonfires at night and people walking on the highway ramp with alcohol," Aucoin said. Police consulted with the state Department of Transportation, which asked police to remove the homeless, he said.
Police charged Rebecca Murray, 45, and David Esbourne, 37, with criminal trespass. Aucoin said both were taken to the Valley Street jail, and one was released on personal recognizance Thursday. Neither was listed at the jail last night.
Meanwhile, the director of the largest shelter in the city said dozens of camps used by the homeless exist in the Manchester area.
Some comprise a single, mentally ill person who cannot be around others. Other encampments have several people, said Mike Tessier, director of New Horizons for New Hampshire, the main shelter and soup kitchen for Manchester.
Tessier said the two who were arrested would probably return to the woods.
"They may go to a different location. They may try to cover their places a little bit differently," Tessier said.
As it gets warmer, more homeless people stay outside all night, he said. Trees will soon have leaves, and the encampments will be less visible, but that will change when the leaves fall in autumn.
Aucoin said the encampments present a hazard. The tents and the bonfires are a distraction to motorists exiting I-293 north at Queen City Avenue. As pedestrians, the homeless could get struck on the highway ramp as they walk to the camp. And the camps have no sanitary systems.
He said troopers visited the encampment three times. The first time, troopers asked the homeless to leave. The second time, they asked for names and identification of about eight people.
Murray and Esbourne were arrested on the third visit. State police have asked the DOT to post the property, Aucoin said.
He said DOT workers picked up the belongings, which included tents, bicycles and the carpeting. The belongings will be returned if the owners come forward and ask for them, he said.
"The police aren't looking for situations like this; the public brings it to our attention," Aucoin said. He said troopers encouraged the homeless to use shelters in Manchester and provided information about the temporary housing.
But Tessier said most homeless who live outside can't take the shelters.
"They can't deal with the structure of the shelter," Tessier said. "They have mental health issues, or they are so into substance abuse where they can't deal with the setting."
He said the city, Catholic Medical Center, New Horizons and other agencies provide nurses, mental health workers, social service workers and others to aid the homeless. Part of that work involves encouraging the homeless people to take advantage of services.
A former police officer, Tessier said he used to break up homeless encampments. He said Manchester police only do so at the request of property owners.
"The tent cities, they've been around forever," Tessier said. "When only the railroad yard was there, no one cared. Now there's a baseball stadium and condos. That's why people are seen more often."

Sunday, March 14, 2010

NCH Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report

Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report

The National Coalition for the Homeless announces the first in a series of reports on the growing number of tent cities across the United States. The new report released today is focusing on west coast encampments. Tent Cities in America: A Pacific Coast Report looks at how current tent cities have emerged and operate on a daily basis, highlighting the community organizing efforts at work within these settlements and the growing need for affordable and accessible housing nationwide.

As the United States continues to react to the worst economy since the Great Depression, both leading and lagging indicators of this crisis continue to grow. Home foreclosures, unemployment, and the regional poverty rates continue to rise, as newly homelessness families see a double digit increase.

44% of people experiencing homeless in America are unsheltered (USHUD 2009). A growing number of unsheltered Americans are congregating in tent cities for safety, community and as locations of last resort.

“Tent Cities are American’s de facto waiting room for affordable and accessible housing. The idea of someone living in a tent in this country says little about the decisions made by those who dwell within and so much more about our nation’s inability to adequately respond to our fellow residents in need.” -Neil Donovan, National Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director.

This report is the first in a series of National Coalition for the Homeless publications that explore the tent city phenomenon. In future reports, NCH will profile homeless encampments nationwide and include a section on policy recommendations for local, regional and national policy and decision makers.

Go to to read the full report

Monday, March 1, 2010

WMUR TV 9 NH Homeless Struggle With Survival

WMUR-TV 9 (video Not included)
NH Homeless Struggle With Survival
POSTED: 11:15 am EST February 28, 2010

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Every night, hundreds of people struggle to survive on the streets of Nashua, Manchester and Concord. Hundreds more couch surf, relying on the good will of friends and relatives for shelter and warmth.

At one point, the city of Manchester launched a 10-year plan to end homelessness, but then the recession and housing crisis hit making the plan a challenge.

One morning in late January, News 9's Amy Coveno set out in Manchester with 24 volunteers in search of those living outside.

Pointing at a couple of pallets and a pile of blankets along some railroad tracks, Families in Transition team leader Joe and outreach worker Matt say they've found a camp someone is actively using as a home.

"This is the bed that they're sleeping on and just your basic protection from the elements from the top," said Matt.

More signs are seen under the Amoskeag Bridge. What may look like trash to the casual observer turns out to be three homeless camps actively being used.

Joe said it's a reality that he knows all too well as he spent a year homeless and surviving the elements himself. Joe said he now devotes himself to supporting the homeless.

"When you're out there all night, especially at like three o'clock in the morning and the temperature really drops, it's hard to get warm," said Joe.

Joe said he wants to prove that there is more than one face of homelessness.

Proof comes from a mother of four named Zanita living in a one bedroom apartment with her children.

Zanita said the apartment from "The Way Home Housing Resource Center" was her way out of atrocious conditions in a rooming house. Zanita lost her former apartment in 2007 and was on the brink of being left on the streets. Her family spent three months couch hopping before ending up in a bug-infested rooming house for two years.

"I would roll over my son and his belly had a little hive there, he was sleeping. He didn't even know they were just eating, just sucking his blood," said Zanita.

Zanita said she would stay up all night with a flashlight chasing bugs off her children. She said she cried for three days when she got the keys to her current apartment. The apartment is a temporary respite, however, as Zanita has until the end of the summer to find a permanent home and a job.

Not all homeless choose to stay in shelters, however.

Albee O'Clair said he's been homeless for 10 years and has lived in a makeshift tent for six of them. He said living inside makes him claustrophobic.

When asked how he bathes or gets clean, he motions to the river just feet away from his shelter.

"Sometimes you have to go in there to wash up," said O'Clair.

O'Clair showed Coveno the inside of his tent. It contained blankets, a lit candle and a propane stove. He says his most prized possession is a cat named Sheba who keeps him company and keeps him warm.

As it stands, nearly 50 homeless programs operate in the state, funded by more than $5 million in Housing and Urban Development Grants. People who work with the homeless say the populations is often invisible but they strive to make sure people like Zanita and Albee are not ignored.

Tell Us More: E-mail WMUR your tips and story ideas.
Copyright 2010 by WMUR. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed

Thursday, February 11, 2010

[Photo: Inside the abandoned Roosevelt Warehouse in Detroit, a body lies frozen in a block of ice. (By Max Ortiz / The Detroit News)]

Frozen in a Detroit building

In January, I came across a picture that stopped me in my tracks. It showed a sheet of ice with two legs sticking out, almost like popsicle sticks. It was the picture of a homeless man who froze to death in an abandoned Detroit building. The building flooded and encased his corpse in ice. He was discovered by urban explorers, but they didn't bother to call officials. Rather, they continued their hockey game in the flooded basement of that building. To me, this story was a gut-wrenching analogy for the tragic indifference that is so pervasive when it comes to homelessness. It's too easy to turn the other way, pretend these devastating issues aren't happening in our own communities.

The Tragedy of Indifferenceby Shannon Moriarty
category: Hate Crimes
Published January 30, 2009 @ 10:20AM PT

Every now and again when I'm scouring the web, I'll come across something that stops me in my tracks. Something that makes me sick to my stomach- literally. Something that bothers me so deeply I think about it for days.
Well, this is one of those stories.
Here's an excerpt, straight from the The Detroit News:

It starts with a phone call made by a man who said his friend found a dead body in the elevator shaft of an abandoned building on the city's west side.
"He's encased in ice, except his legs, which are sticking out like Popsicle sticks," the caller phoned to tell this reporter.
"Why didn't your friend call the police?"
"He was trespassing and didn't want to get in trouble," the caller replied. As it happens, the caller's friend is an urban explorer who gets thrills rummaging through and photographing the ruins of Detroit. It turns out that this explorer last week was playing hockey with a group of other explorers on the frozen waters that had collected in the basement of the building. None of the men called the police, the explorer said. They, in fact, continued their hockey game.
The hem of a beige jacket could be made out, as could the cuffs of blue jeans. The socks were relatively clean and white. The left shoe was worn at the heel but carried fresh laces. Adding to the macabre and incongruous scene was a pillow that gently propped up the left foot of the corpse. It looked almost peaceful.
What happened to this person, one wonders? Murder in Motown is a definite possibility. Perhaps it was death by alcoholic stupor. Perhaps the person was crawling around in the elevator shaft trying to retrieve some metal that he could sell at a scrap yard. In any event, there the person was. Stone-cold dead.
There are two things about this story that I find so devastating.
First, this story illustrates the tragedy of not having a home. The vulnerability of it; this tragic state where one can end up frozen in a block of ice in an elevator shaft. No person should have to meet his or her death in such an undignified and unfortunate manner. Where was this mans family? What happened in his life that he resorted to life on the streets? Will anyone mourn his death? These are questions I ask myself when I see homeless people who appear to have given up, who have resigned to the streets.
Second, the indifference of those who found him is perhaps most unsettling. The Detroit News Article goes on to describe how the "urban explorers" figured someone else would report this man's death. Now, I don't want to believe that the majority of people would be equally as heartless in this situation. But then again, how is this any different then when we shun those living on the streets? When we ignore them and chalk up their predicament to personal faults, Or that they "chose" to live this way? When we fail to take matters into our own hands to see that these societal injustices stop claiming lives?

See, I know this is a story about the tragic fate of one man in Detroit. But I think it's more than that. It's an analogy for the mindset of so many people when it comes to homelessness. They are indifferent. They couldn't be bothered by somebody else's misery, somebody else's pain. "Someone else will fix it." "Someone else will fund that shelter." "Someone else will help that child have a chance at a better future."
Indifference is, indeed, tragic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

winter report

the national coalition for the homeless just put out a new report it can be downloaded at

cut and paste into your browser

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.)