Why doesn’t the City adopt a sit-lie ordinance or camping ordinance to prevent people from sitting and/or sleeping with all their belongings on the sidewalks of Elm Street?
- Another recent court case found that an ordinance banning people from sleeping in public spaces (including sidewalks) violated the 8th Amendment, deeming it cruel and unusual punishment to ban people from sleeping outside in the public spaces when they often do not have another option. Consequently, as the law now stands, the adoption of an ordinance would require that the City of Manchester, at the same time, offer every such individual a guaranteed shelter bed, which cannot be achieved at this time.
- The City of Manchester does, however, have many regulations already in place that address conduct in public places including, prohibiting persons from obstructing sidewalks and entryways, littering, obstructing pedestrian traffic, and obstructing vehicular traffic.
Why doesn’t the City prohibit encampments along the Merrimack River or Canal Street?
- The findings that determine what can and cannot be done with those sleeping on Elm Street apply to these encampments as well, UNLESS this land is privately owned or its use is already governed by other laws or regulations (such as City parks). Under current law, unless they are engaging in criminal or other conduct which would legally require or permit their involuntary removal from a location, such individuals generally cannot be removed from public, non-park land unless there is an identifiable bed available.
- The City has and continues to actively monitor any encampment for signs of health, fire, public safety or other hazards. Where necessary, the City will take the appropriate and lawful action necessary to address any health, fire, or public safety hazard presented by any encampment.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has presented both the City and those experiencing homelessness with new and difficult challenges: Persons experiencing homelessness have expressed concerns regarding staying in the local shelters due to fears of contracting COVID-19. This fear has continued despite ongoing outreach and efforts to assure those experiencing homelessness that the shelter is safe, frequently cleaned, and allowed for adequate social distancing.
Why doesn’t the City pass an ordinance prohibiting people from panhandling?
- Panhandling is considered a form of free speech under the First Amendment. Some cities have sought to outlaw panhandling, but their ordinances were deemed unconstitutional and unenforceable, and, in some cases, the cities were held financially liable. The City of Manchester tried such an ordinance in 2015, but it was struck down by the courts.
- The City of Manchester in conjunction with the Manchester Chamber of Commerce recently launched a program called “Give MHT 5” which allows individuals to give directly to nonprofit organizations with the resources to make the most impact helping Manchester’s most vulnerable populations. You can donate at givemht5.com. You can also donate your time. You can find organizations in Manchester looking for volunteers through Volunteer NH at volunteernh.org.
What is the Continuum of Care?
- The City of Manchester’s Continuum of Care System is a strategic plan authorized by HUD, that provides a bridge for providers to engage and collaborate in the services delivery systems that address homelessness. The goal is to create and maintain a coordinated entry system for all Homeless populations.
Housing Strategies for “All People and All Incomes of the Queen City”:
- Create and preserve existing housing with support services for the hardest to serve population the Chronic Homeless residing in the Queen City local encampments.
- Create and preserve affordable housing stock for seniors who are on fixed incomes.
- Create and preserve affordable housing stock for the working class who are of Extremely Low, Very Low, and Low–Incomes.
Through the implementation of shared equity housing programs, and cooperative housing programs, the City of Manchester will increase the affordable housing stock. These new housing initiatives will assist in closing the income and housing gaps while ensuring diversity and inclusion for “All People and All Incomes of the Queen City.”