Manchester NH

Manchester NH
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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.






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
By MARK HAYWARD
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."

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"

2008

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'
By SHIRA SCHOENBERG Monitor staff
here
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

Jimmy

Jimmy
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

http://nationalhomeless.org/publications/crimreport2004/meanest.html
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


§ 130.01 PUBLIC LOUNGING OR SLEEPING.
§ 130.02 OBSTRUCTING PASSAGEWAYS.
§ 130.24 PUBLIC DRINKING.
(B) Exemption: This section shall not apply to the area of a sidewalk encumbered by resturants
§ 91.68 DEPOSIT OF LITTER.
§ 91.70 LITTER ON VACANT PROPERTY.
§ 91.73 LITTERING IN PARKS.

Public Urination

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


TITLE III TOWNS, CITIES, VILLAGE DISTRICTS, AND UNINCORPORATED PLACES
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

afsc.org
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.)