Concord homeless shelters sealed for good, vigour mounts to find solution

April 2, 2015 - fall Denim

Most guest during a First Congregational Church cold continue preserve had already left with a wave, though yesterday morning, Kevin Clark lingered.

He packaged adult his guitar and his bags slowly, relocating out of a groundwork dilemma that had been his all winter. When he asked either he could take his cot with him as well, preserve Director Terry Blake agreed.

His eyes on a folded-up cot in his hands, Clark paused for a impulse in a doorway.

Just for a moment, he glanced behind during Blake.

“Thank you,” he said.

The cold continue shelters during First Congregational and South Congregational churches have sealed for good. Once deliberate a refuge measure, a shelters have operated for some-more than a decade. Last year, a dual churches announced this deteriorate would be their last.

“It’s sad, though it has to occur to make things pierce forward,” Blake said.

While village leaders are operative to henceforth residence a city’s long-term homeless, Concord has no other puncture preserve and no certain devise to settle one for subsequent winter.

Last year, a city legislature authorized an desirous prophesy to finish homelessness in Concord and allocated a steering cabinet to exercise it. Along with a Concord Coalition to End Homelessness, cabinet leaders are looking for permanent housing for those who have been on a travel for a longest duration of time. The coalition’s executive director, Ellen Groh, pronounced she has also approached Concord’s faith leaders to find a plcae for a smaller crawl preserve subsequent year.

Groh graphic about 20 beds. The cold continue shelters took in some-more than 180 people over a march of this winter in about 60 beds.

“It adds an implausible volume of urgency,” Groh pronounced of a shelters’ end. “Nothing like a deadline to make something happen, though during a same time, it adds highlight that we need to make things occur by subsequent winter.”

‘We have to tarry each day’

On a final night in a shelter, a throng collected around Clark’s guitar. With Blake’s husband, Carroll, on another guitar, he played ’80s classics and a ribald folk song.

Jeffrey White sat circuitously on a stairs, listening to a strain and cradling a gummy finish of a vanilla ice cream cone.

He didn’t know where he would nap once a preserve closed. White became homeless 5 years ago after a divorce. When he temporarily found an unit dual years ago, he visited a preserve as a volunteer, not a guest. This winter, he was behind on a cot in a shelter.

“When a income stops, and we have no place to go, we spin to a travel or a woods,” pronounced White, 55.

In his wallet, White still carries a pinkish trip of paper – one of a initial tickets released when a city began to moment down on panhandling in 2013. He pulled a temporary pointer out from his coupler slot and unfolded a ragged cardboard: “Homeless. Out of Work. Please Help. God Bless. Thanks.”

With an fluid hand, he had drawn a smiley face subsequent to a words.

“We have to tarry each day,” White said. “It’s a tough life. we don’t like it.”

Shelby Weston sat cross-legged on a floor, examination Clark’s fingers on a guitar strings. Weston has been staying in a preserve for dual years.

“Can we do me a favor, personally?” he asked.

His difference were slurred, though he commanded carefully.

“I would like to appreciate a staff for all they have finished to keep my life going,” he said. “Thank you. Love, Shelby Weston.”

He incited behind to a guitars and clapped his hands.

“Turn it up, guys,” he shouted.

Arthur Fumerelle Jr., 47, stayed divided from a music.

Fumerelle alternately calls himself “King Arthur” and “The Chosen One.” He pronounced he really most wants to accommodate a famous preacher Billy Graham, and he talked about what he pronounced is a imminent apocalypse.

He paced by a shelter, still wearing his winter cloak over his denim overalls and carrying his walking stick.

“I’m on a trail to a end, though will we ever see complacency before we leave?” he asked. “What are we going to do with no preserve subsequent year?”

Searching for solutions

Last spring, city officials adopted a devise to finish ongoing homelessness and by fall, an executive steering cabinet of Concord energy brokers began to map out accurately how to exercise that plan. The nonprofit Concord Coalition to End Homelessness is a partner in that effort.

Many advocates have pinned their hopes on a indication called Housing First, that brings a chronically homeless into housing and afterwards provides them with services. The theory, that has gained traction nationally, is that people are some-more expected to residence their underlying issues like alcoholism and mental illness in a fast environment, rather than on a street.

Groh pronounced a bloc is operative on anticipating income for let vouchers and caseworker support, both of that are vicious to creation Housing First work. She has practical for a state grant, though a stream bill routine in a Legislature could cut that income significantly.

In a meantime, internal use providers are operative on a uniform set of procedures so a homeless can get assistance some-more efficiently. But conjunction income for Housing First nor that customary process has materialized yet.

She has also approached a Greater Concord Interfaith Council to find a horde for a 20-bed crawl shelter. If nothing of a internal faith communities can help, Groh pronounced she would need to plead options with a city.

The bloc owns and operates a Homeless Resource Center, that will expected pierce subsequent month to a incomparable building on North Main Street. But Groh pronounced she doesn’t trust that building meets glow codes to horde an overnight shelter.

“We’re operative really tough to assure there is an crawl shelter,” Groh said. “This is a village issue. We can’t emanate this out of a behind pocket.”

The Rev. Emilia Halstead, priest during First Congregational, pronounced a church still wants to be concerned in proffer work in Concord.

“Just since a shelters are closing, it doesn’t meant that we are interlude a goal with doing what we can to finish homelessness in Concord,” Halstead said. “It’s only holding a opposite route.”

Mayor Jim Bouley praised both a preserve volunteers and a Concord Coalition to End Homelessness.

“Clearly, a pull needs to be toward housing,” Bouley said. “I consider we’re staying on summary and pulling forward. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

But Bouley, who orchestrated a winter preserve for families for several years, concurred a need for preserve during a cold winter months will still exist subsequent year.

“We can’t wait until a final minute,” Bouley said. “I’ve been down that highway before, and we don’t wish to do that again.”

‘No place in city to go’

Clark customarily heads for his campsite before a finish of a preserve season, though since this was a final year, he lingered.

The oppressive continue kept him inside, and his campsite had been ransacked only days before a preserve closed. Tools and a cooking stove had been stolen, though he didn’t devise to pierce to a new site. The military have burst down on trespassing, and he’s set adult on private skill with accede from a landowner.

“There’s no place in city to go,” he said.

Clark walked past a dais where, a night before, he played along to a Bon Jovi song.

“Whoa, we’re median there. Whoa, we’re livin’ on a prayer.”

Yesterday morning, a song’s lyrics had faded as he packaged adult his guitar and pronounced goodbye with a nod.

(Megan Doyle can be reached during 369-3321, mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle. Doyle has been an occasional proffer during a preserve during First Congregational Church this winter.)

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