Lebanon searches for spot to shelter the homeless as hotel program ends

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:02 PM EDT|Updated: May. 22, 2023 at 6:37 PM EDT
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LEBANON, N.H. (WCAX) - Officials in the Upper Valley are preparing for more homeless people to hit the streets as the region’s emergency housing in hotels program comes to an end. They say it’s a problem that requires long-term solutions.

“I didn’t have enough money for a security deposit or good landlord references, so I couldn’t get a place,” Alexander Pleger said.

Pleger lived in his car before getting a bed at the Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction, Vermont. He says he’s working with staff there to get a place of his own because someone else is always in need of shelter.

“There is a lot of people that come and go that don’t have a place to go, living in tents and stuff like that,” Pleger said.

There is no shelter across the river in Lebanon.

“We are very concerned about the wintertime, obviously, with freezing temperatures. Those become life safety issues,” Lebanon City Manager Shaun Mulholland said.

New Hampshire’s hotel program to house the homeless ended in April for singles. Assistance for families ends in June.

“We are looking to find locations where we can either construct or retrofit buildings for an emergency shelter for this coming winter. And that will hopefully buy us some more time,” Mulholland said.

But the city manager says low-income housing is the longer-term solution, something he says is tough to make progress on.

“It is going to take the political will to address this problem to take the concrete steps that are necessary and the public resources that will be necessary to address this,” Mulholland said. “If not, we are going to continue to have this problem.”

Pleger says he doesn’t know where he’d be without help, and he says he’s not alone.

“There’s definitely a lot of need,” he said. “There needs to be more places like this.”

City officials say they hope to have a plan for the emergency shelter in place before the snow flies.