Homeless Camp in Manchester, New Hampshire: Judge Approves Eviction

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A judge has ruled that the City of Manchester can evict a homeless camp on Manchester and Pine Streets. Eviction notices were posted last week, giving those living at the camp until Tuesday to leave. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit on Friday to block the city’s plans, arguing that the planned eviction was inhumane because there is not enough space for overnight shelter in the city. The city, for its part, has argued that the plan to clean up the area is a matter of public safety. Following the judge’s ruling, the city said it would begin evictions on Wednesday. About 50 people call the sidewalks home, and many said they were there because they had no options. “I was denied the shelter. I was denied the Cashin Center,” said homeless resident Autumn Kostrzeba. “They said I’m a medical liability.” Kostrzeba, 26, said she is a victim on both sides of the issue. He has 39 staples in his head after, he says, he was attacked with a pipe at camp on New Year’s Eve. Kostrzeba said he would sleep on Tuesday night but not at the camp, saying it was unsafe for him there. the judge had already decided that the city has legitimacy to enforce the ordinances that prohibit the use of public space for camping without prior written permission. In denying the plaintiffs’ request, Judge John C. Kissinger Jr. agreed with the city, calling the camp’s situation a “serious public health risk,” adding that at least one death, fires, and overdoses have occurred at the camp recently. Kissinger also wrote in his ruling that if the city lacked adequate shelter space, the eviction would violate the state and federal constitutional rights of those living in the camp. Instead, he wrote, the city had more than 30 beds available as of Jan. 12. Still, though, Kissinger said more needs to be done to help the homeless. shelter options for people residing at the camp,” Kissinger wrote. “The court hopes the city will continue to make a real effort to identify a quick way to close the gap so there are options for people to stay warm 24 hours a day. day.” Alternative shelter options for homeless people could be improved, “in the current circumstances they are adequate.” “It’s unfortunate,” said homeless complainant Dennis Higgins. “You’re basically taking anyone homeless here and saying, ‘See you.'” Higgins said he’s been homeless for about three years. One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed to stop the eviction, he slept at the campsite on Monday night. cold. I mean, I’ll make it,” he said. “But there are people here. I have no idea how they got here. They don’t have a voice, because they don’t know how to talk to the media, talk to justice.” confused about what to do next and thinks the community doesn’t understand how exhausting it is to live this way. “The hardest part is that you want to go back to the cycle of getting a house, getting a job, but it’s so hard to fight just to make ends meet, just to make sure you make it through that day,” Higgins said. In a written statement, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said the city ​​is working to bring more shelters online.In the Pine and Manchester Streets area, the City of Manchester is moving forward with establishing a women’s shelter in partnership with the YWCA New Hampshire, opening an additional 24-hour winter emergency shelter , 7 days a week, expanding access to treatment for substance use disorders and creating more supportive permanent housing options,” Craig said in the statement. and opening a shelter in a former bus station on Granite and Canal Streets. People in the camp said they don’t want a shelter; they want a place of their own. But this is something they said seems to be out of reach.

A judge has ruled that the City of Manchester can evict a homeless camp on Manchester and Pine Streets.

Eviction notices were posted last week, giving those living at the camp until Tuesday to leave. The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit on Friday to block the city’s plans, arguing that the planned eviction was inhumane because there is not enough space for overnight shelter in the city.

City Hall, for its part, argued that the plan to clean up the area is a matter of public safety.

Following the judge’s ruling, the city said it would begin evictions on Wednesday. About 50 people call the sidewalks home, and many said they were there because they ran out of options.

“I was denied the shelter. I was denied the Cashin Center,” said homeless resident Autumn Kostrzeba. “They said I’m a medical problem.”

Kostrzeba, 26, said he is a victim on both sides of the issue. He has 39 staples in his head after, he says, he was attacked with a pipe at camp on New Year’s Eve.

Kostrzeba said he would sleep on Tuesday night but not at the camp, saying it was unsafe for him there.

The city has provided supplemental information to the court about the plaintiffs, and the ACLU has filed a statement in response, but it appears that the judge has already made his decision that the city has standing to enforce ordinances prohibiting the use of public space for camping. without prior written permission.

In denying the plaintiffs’ request, Judge John C. Kissinger Jr. agreed with the city, calling the camp’s situation a “serious public health risk,” adding that at least one death, fires, and overdoses have occurred at the camp recently.

Kissinger also wrote in his ruling that if the city lacked adequate shelter space, the eviction would violate the state and federal constitutional rights of those living in the camp. Instead, he wrote, the city had more than 30 beds available as of Jan. 12.

Still, though, Kissinger said more needs to be done to help the homeless.

“The court believes that the city should continue to work to provide better housing options for people residing in the camp,” Kissinger wrote. “The court hopes the city will continue to make a real effort to identify a quick way to close the gap so there are options for people to stay warm 24 hours a day.”

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Kissinger argued that while alternative shelter options for the homeless could be improved, “in the current circumstances they are adequate.”

“It’s unfortunate,” said homeless complainant Dennis Higgins. “You basically take any homeless person in here and say, ‘See you later’.”

Higgins said he has been homeless for about three years. One of the authors of the lawsuit filed to stop the eviction, he slept in the camp on Monday night.

“I mean, it was cold. I mean, I’ll make it,” he said. “But there are people here. I have no idea how they got here. They don’t have a voice because they don’t know how to talk to the media, talk to the courts.”

He said residents are confused about what to do next and he thinks the community doesn’t understand how exhausting it is to live this way.

“The hardest part is you want to get back into the cycle of getting a house, getting a job, but it’s so hard to fight your way out of just survival, just to make sure you survive that day,” Higgins said.

In a written statement, Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig said the city was working to bring more shelters online.

“In addition to protecting the Pine and Manchester Streets area, the City of Manchester is moving forward with establishing a women’s shelter in partnership with the YWCA New Hampshire, opening an additional 24/7 winter emergency shelter. , expanding access to treatment for substance use disorders. and creating more permanent supportive housing options,” Craig said in the statement.

Manchester authorities are looking into the possibility of opening a shelter in a former bus station on Granite and Canal Streets.

People in the camp said they don’t want a shelter; they want a place of their own. But this is something they said seems to be out of reach.

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