May 29, 2015 6:39 PM
DOVER - Alix Campbell is an angel for the homeless.
As a outreach specialist for Community Action Partnership, Campbell finds people who are living on the streets and in the woods, bringing them toiletries, clothing and tents. This time of year, when people are kicked off the couches they have been surfing on during the winter months, she is in the field three days a week, trying to track down those who need help.
"The communities do tend to stick together, and they separate when it gets cold, and then they'll come back together," Campbell said, talking about the natural progression of homeless groups as the weather gets warmer.
Campbell knows of a few areas in Dover that are used as tent cities when the weather gets warm. One is by the train tracks. Another is near the skateboard park.
Henry Law Park is also an area where homeless people gather.
"This is definitely a popular hangout. It's a very central location, so there's places they can get to very easily from here," Campbell said. "There's bus stops. The main station isn't too far away and the Community Action outreach office is in the McConnell Center right next to the library, so that's a popular place as well."
Police in Dover say that citizens notice homeless residents at this time of year because of the better weather. Richard Albe is one of the homeless men who is frequently roaming around downtown.
"I like this town, but it does not like me," Albe said while sitting on a public bench recently.
He showed off the scratches on his arms.
"I got cut, everybody beats me up," Albe said.
Albe said he knows Campbell. She checks in with him on a regular basis. On this day, he was hoping for a ride so he could get to Campbell's office for a bus ticket.
Police Captain Dave Terlemezian says he worries that members of the homeless population are victims of unreported crimes.
"I think it's a population that tends to be victimized, and it tends to be underreported," Terlemezian said. "Just like we don't know exactly how many homeless people there are in the city, I don't think we know all the crimes that they are involved in either, on the receiving end, or if they were the perpetrator."
Terlemezian said homeless people are often afraid of reporting crimes against them, for fear that they cannot get away from the people committing them.
"I would consider it a problem because we don't want any crime taking place in the city, we want to have an opportunity to have it reported to us so we can investigate it, and we can find the perpetrator," Terlemezian said.
The phones in the homeless prevention and outreach offices at Community Action Partnership have been ringing off the hook, which is a reflection of the number of people in Strafford County who need services.
Statistics from the NH Coalition to End Homelessness confirms that need. In their 2014 report on the state of homelessness in New Hampshire, it is said that Strafford and Rockingham counties have had a worsening problem with homelessness in the past two years. The homeless population increased by 17.5 percent in each county from 2012 to 2014.
The coalition reports that there were 1,635 homeless people in the Granitie State in 2014. Of that number, 393 individuals were considered "unsheltered homeless."
This week, Campbell got two people enrolled in the programs available through CAP.
The hope is to find them permanent housing and connect them with other services.
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