Aug 9, 2015 9:21 AM
Portsmouth shelter sees 17 percent increase in clients in need of housing
PORTSMOUTH — Homelessness may be decreasing statewide, but the problem is growing on the Seacoast.
At Cross Roads House in Portsmouth, Executive Director Martha Stone told seacoastonline.com that the emergency and transitional shelter served 550 people in the fiscal year that ended in June, a 17 percent increase.
In addition to the emergency housing, many shelters like Cross Roads also offer a transitional program to help residents get into permanent homes. According to Stone, 91 percent of the families in their transitional program went to permanent housing.
“Cross Roads House is so much more than a place where people sleep and eat; it’s not just a place with beds in it,” Stone said. “We have always been focusing on all the needs of the residents that we serve.”
Stone said everyone who seeks assistance is in need of housing, but they almost always have additional needs. She said they provide wrap-around services by partnering with a large number of agencies.
For example, many of the individuals or families experiencing homelessness lack skills to manage their finances and navigate the process of renting a home.
At Cross Roads House, Stone said, staff runs a “rent-ready class” that includes budgeting, debt reduction and tenant’s rights and responsibilities.
“We bring in guest speakers from banks and New Hampshire Legal Aid,” Stone said. “We are trying to provide an education to help people be successful once they leave.”
The biggest hurdle for many shelter residents, according to Stone, is access to health care. To that end, Cross Roads House has had a long partnership with Families First Health & Support Center.
“We work collaboratively with all the agencies that might have a role in helping that person to address both medical and housing needs,” she said.
“We are really excited about the progress that we’ve made so far and the number of people who have wanted to be involved in it. Anything that has to do with health and wellness we are interested in helping our residents access it. So that during their stay here, we can help them get back on their feet and ready to move out and be successful in permanent housing.”