Homeless encampment in Dover, Somersworth area to be shut down

Homeless encampment in Dover, Somersworth area to be shut down

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Nearly 100 people who have found refuge on a piece of land between Dover, Somersworth and Rochester will be forced to leave in a few days.

The section of land where the homeless encampment sits is being referred to as the Willand Pond encampment, but officials said it’s the Garabedian property, and it’s privately owned. The owner is asking law enforcement and government officials to help clear the area.

Somersworth Mayor Dana Hilliard said it’s critical to find someplace for the people to go, but there need to be long-term solutions.

“But we need to work on the long-term sustainable solutions of where would a permanent structure go, what would it look like and what would it serve,” Hilliard said.

Social workers said the shelters that are already there are insufficient.

“In reality, it’s not really an option,” said Lynne Deamelio-Rafferty, care coordinator for Greater Seacoast Community Health. “It’s an option on paper or an option in a lot of people’s minds, but it’s not actually an option that a lot of those folks have, because shelters are filled, first of all.”

Hilliard and Dover Mayor Robert Carrier said more shelters are needed, but they can’t do it alone.

“We need help,” Carrier said. “We need help from the government, from the state to come down and to help us out and to build a shelter like Crossroads.”

With limited options, all parties agreed that care and compassion should be at the forefront of the fight.

“They might have a lot of challenges they’re facing, but they’re still human beings, and they still deserve the dignity and the basic needs that we can help them meet,” Deamelio-Rafferty said.

Law enforcement officials said that after Nov. 8, anyone caught on the property will be charged with trespassing.

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