Organizations for homeless people in NH prepare for dangerously cold weather
WMUR | 2/1/23
By Kelly O’Brian
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. —
As frigid weather approaches New Hampshire, Manchester officials announced Tuesday that a 24/7 emergency shelter will open this week.
The facility on Beech Street near Cilley Road will open at 7 p.m. Thursday and stay open through April.
The announcement came as organizations that help homeless people prepared for the dangerous cold forecast for this weekend. Wind chills could drop to negative-30 to negative-50 degrees, making it dangerous to be outside for more than a few minutes.
Crossroads House is one of two emergency warming shelters in the Seacoast area, and officials said they expect a full house this weekend.
“For us, anyone who shows up at the door we will take in,” said executive director Will Arvelo. Arvelo said all 13 additional beds at its warming center will likely be filled. The shelter replaces the tables in the cafeteria with beds when the temperature dips below 28 degrees.
“We don’t want anyone to be outside if we can prevent it,” Arvelo said.
Crossroads works closely with the other emergency warming shelter in the area, which is in Somersworth.
“Right now in the last week, we have been averaging around 50 people a night,” said John Burns, director of SOS Recovery Community Organization.
The organization’s Willand Emergency Shelter has a maximum capacity of 80 people, and it’s considering speaking with the county to expand that for this weekend.
“With the cold coming, we have no intention of turning people away,” Burns said.
The shelter is a low-barrier shelter, which alters the traditional rules and regulations seen at a full-time shelter. Staff members ask fewer questions and allow those seeking a warm place for the night to keep their personal possessions with them at their bunk.
“We look at it as partnering with the folks that we are serving and making sure we keep them alive,” Burns said.
Those who visit the shelter receive dinner and breakfast and are offered additional resources in the community during the day if they want them.
Officials said they’re concerned about the population living outdoors who don’t seek help, especially when the temperature drops as low as it’s expected to.
“We don’t really know how many people are out there and what their needs are,” Arvelo said.
Both warming shelters have been activated now through Saturday.