We are pleased to publish this Op.Ed. suggesting solutions to the city’s now widespread homeless and vagrancy problem. We convey neither an endorsement nor opposition in doing so. We also solicit your comments and submissions, which we will publish and thank Eric Sawyer for permitting his thoughts to be published. ~Publius
This is just an idea and will require much more work should the City wish to implement this idea or any part of it.
In times past our homeless were often refered to as Hobo’s and the area where the Hobo’s would tend to congregate was referred to as the Hobo Village. Manchester’s Hobo Village was from Granite State Packing north to Granite St. In fact in most communities the Hobo Village was usually in very close proximity to a meat processing plant–the meat cutters would often hand there less fortunate brother pieces of meat. Those living in the Hobo Village would often be hired as day labour’s by the meat processing plant. Manchester was no exceptions remember this was 1940’s onward through the 1960’s the primary work requirement was showing up for work with a strong back employers couldn’t do drug testing if they wanted to. Employers were tolerant of the brown bottle flue of course you did get paid if we’re s no show. Government had yet to start telling employers about workman’s compensation insurance, minimum wage, workers safety and all the other things the Government has throttled employers with.
The City could resurrect Manchester’s Hobo Village but on the City’s terms. The City with the assistance of our Congressional Delegates could obtain military battlefield housing. We may even be able to have the National Guard, Army Corps or some military Engineering Battalion prepare the area and set it up. One of the reasons the homeless give for not staying in a shelter, in using modular Military Battlefield the size of the individual housing unit can be varied to accommodate individual family units. The ability to provide individual family accommodations reducing the number of altercations as well as there size.
The area along the RR tracks between Elliott Rivers Edge and the Fisher Cats Stadium is in many ways ideal — our future railroad Barons will generally be out of sight out of mind, yet it a short distance to Elm St. where they can easily stroll the Elm St., promenade, stop for fine dining or eat a leisurely brunch in a sidewalk cafe while enjoying our cool but moderate weather.
Additional soft-wall edifices be put up to provide for counseling, medical care and evaluation, instruction and job training.
For those homeless with children having a location like this will provide the means for the children to go to school like other kids. This could also provide a permanent enough location to receive mail.
With the Elliott’s assistance or cooperation what ever you decide to call it, Rivers Edge has a large commercial kitchen that could be used to prepare and provide meals.
Sanitation and hygiene are essential the Fire Department can set up decontamination showers. Portable bathrooms or Latrines could be located on opposite sides of the compound gents and boys opposite madams and girls — others use the bushes. Australia has a portable toilet that uses sawdust.
blog/18-introducing-the- nature-loo-mini-mobile-the- perfect-portable-composting- toilet
These are environmentally friendly and inexpensive, there is no shortage of information about composting sawdust toilet’s. http://naturecommode.com/ provide a higher end commode where the only thing entering the land fill is a sawdust Hock Puck.
With separate medical tents paramedics can conduct screenings, provide immunizations, prenatal care if required, tend to minor wounds and injuries and other health needs as may be required.
Employment: A day labor coordination station or center can be set up where people come pickup those willing to engage in short term labor arrangements. (San Antonio and other communities provide day labor opportunities or assistance for the homeless.)
The geography of this area/region makes it easy to provide security and safety. More or less a universal themes/complaint I hear from the homeless population is that shelters are not safe.
Alcohol and Drugs as usual are the instigators of problems. As we are away from the confines of a fixed building structure sober living can be segregated into there own community.
In reading about homeless shelters and camps the most successful ones on Day 1 start out with a clear set of rules along with clearly delineated consequences for any infractions.
This is just the genesis of an idea that can be explored further should people want to further pursue this idea.
I am willing to work with anyone that wants to further explore this idea.
Eric Sawyer is a graduate of Memorial High School and a retired engineer. He currently serves on the Manchester Fire Commission.