Column: Newsom and mayors meet to discuss homelessness. Have we hit rock bottom?
Published 7:00 pm, Saturday, April 3, 2008
In the wake of the worst economic crisis in American history, a number of states have decided either to shut down or drastically reduce programs for the homeless.
New Hampshire may be among them.
In an appearance at the state’s Department of Administrative Services last month, Gov. John Lynch said, “We’ve reached a very precarious point of having to think about making some very difficult decisions. We need to make decisions that are tough, but we need to make those decisions that are fair and necessary.”
In his State of the State address, Lynch proposed to cut the number of beds statewide by about a third.
“I do think we face a number of challenges that we simply cannot go on,” Lynch told the room full of officials from the Department of Administrative Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Emergency Management, the Department of Consumer Affairs, and other state agencies.
“I do not see any end to the current situation in New Hampshire.”
Lynch’s proposal to shut down the state’s homeless services department is a very direct reflection of the economic crisis that has brought the state to the brink of bankruptcy.
So far, the economic crisis has focused on the housing market, and there has been a sharp drop in the number of home sales.
“We’re in a position that in some ways, you could say that we’re in the middle of a depression,” said Joe DellaValle, director of the state commission for homelessness.
And it turns out that the problem of homelessness is much more complex than the city of Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas thinks.
The Manchester-area housing crisis is one of many, and has been exacerbated by the state’s economic crisis.
While many of the state’s cities have sought