MANCHESTER, NH April 21, 2021–Mayoral candidate Rich Girard released his plan to deal with the city’s troublesome homeless problem today. In releasing the document, Girard said the city has been overwhelmed by homeless individuals because it essentially rolled out the red carpet and invited them to come to the city.
“It’s sort of like ‘if you build it, they will come.'”
Girard, who has said his homeless plan would look nothing like what’s currently being done or proposed, is approaching this as a supply and demand problem. With city officials admitting that 75% of the homeless in the city come from other NH communities and states, Girard said the city’s approach has to be focused on making Manchester less attractive to the homeless. If it is, local agencies that are currently overwhelmed by the problem will be better able to help the city’s native homeless population because there will be a reduced demand for their services. Girard sees that as important if the services provided are to have the impact they need to have in the lives of the people who need help. When there are too many people in the system, nobody gets the help they need, he said.
“More and more, homeless people and people who are likely to become homeless have come to Manchester because the city has provided more and more services to them and failed to enforce the law. We will never be rid of this problem if we continue to act as a magnet for it. It’s simply not realistic to expect other communities to take care of their own when Manchester has shown itself so willing to do it for them. It’s also not possible to really help those in need when the system is swamped and overwhelmed.”
Girard’s plan focuses on five areas:
- Stemming the tide of homeless coming to the city.
- Changing outreach practices to encourage the homeless to take advantage of available shelters and services.
- Discouraging the homeless from remaining in camps by aggressively enforcing the more than twenty ordinances, along with relevant state laws, that prohibit their presence and conduct, which harm our quality of life and endanger the public.
- Cooperating with, not blaming, the state.
- Working with local agencies that provide homeless and related services.
“Manchester is a giving and caring community that wants to help. However, we must also make it clear that those who don’t want the help cannot be allowed to ruin the quality of life for the 115,000 residents and thousands of businesses that call Manchester home. My bet is that once the homeless see that the city is serious about curbing their presence and behavior, many of them will return to their home communities or make different choices about accepting help.”