Homeless shelters over capacity as cold weather kicks in
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — The homeless shelters in New Hampshire's Seacoast region passed capacity long before the recent snow and cold temperatures came in.
The Portsmouth Herald reported that some shelters in the region have an eight-month to two-year wait for income-based housing while others are housing people well above their capacity level.
Cross Roads House, an emergency transitional shelter in Portsmouth, has a baseline capacity at 96 people but it housed 112 people Sunday ahead of the storm.
The people who are seeking emergency relief do not preempt those on the wait lists but instead the shelters tries to find them relief elsewhere, according to the shelter's executive director Martha Stone. She added that no one is turned away.
“During an emergency winter event, we discourage people from just showing up but if someone does, we do our best to get them out of the elements for the time being,” Stone said.
While additional beds would help organizations cut down their wait lists and address people's immediate needs, officials like Stone warn that increasing shelter capacity without a larger solution to the issue of affordable housing is like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound.