Picture this: You're a newly-single mom of two little boys, with no family or friends nearby.
Unfortunately for you and your little family, bills don’t stop for personal reasons, and you’ve now been living in a car for over a week. You’ve showered at the local Y, scraped change to get your kids a meal, and you hope they don’t understand—but they do. It was fun for the first night, but now their excitement to camp has evaporated, and tensions are climbing. Why can’t I sleep in a bed? Why can’t we go to school? When are we going home? Finally, the phone call comes: “we’ve found a shelter with a space for you and your kids, but you have to come now.”
You’re now in a small room meeting with your new case manager, signing pages and pages of paperwork—for nearly two hours. Your back is to the door and the anxiety is making you feel claustrophobic, but you can hear your kids playing on the ramp outside, a sound you haven’t heard in days. You hope they understand—and they do. You take a deep breath. It’s not quite “home”, but it will get us there. We will get there. We can do this.
Sadly, this is not a unique situation. The Friends Program has been housing families in Concord since 1988, often sheltering 8 families at once. The program houses 125-150 individuals each year, and provides ongoing formal and informal supports to families who have moved into long-term housing to help them maintain stable housing for their families. As with any building that sees that amount of traffic, major repairs are needed, especially with the added damage of a flooded basement in April of 2020.
The Home Stretch campaign is a three-part shelter expansion and renovation that aims to do two things:
Increase the number of families that can be housed in the emergency shelter each year
Create trauma-informed spaces that are aimed to ease, comfort, and decrease the emotional stress of transitioning into emergency shelter
The Friends Emergency Housing family shelter is not a long-term housing solution, but the closer to “home” that a temporary room can feel, the easier it is for families, especially children, to settle in and begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
Families accounted for nearly forty percent of all people experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire in 2021, and the Friends Program is one of few permanent programs offering shelter year round to families in the greater Concord area. The construction of a ninth bedroom will connect an additional 15-25 individuals with emergency housing each year, and as the financial impacts of COVID-19 weigh on the wallets of already-struggling families, the Friends Emergency Housing Program is preparing to respond to an increased number of families experiencing homelessness.
The Home Stretch, in planning since 2018, broke ground on Phase One June 1st, 2020, and has received amazing support in its beginning phases. An initial donation of $90,000 from The Ilene and Ken Stern Fund through New Hampshire Charitable Foundation jump-started this project, and has been carried forward by generous in-kind donations of construction materials and labor. In 2021 we were awarded $125,000 in tax credits from the Community Development Finance Authority, contributing $100,000 to the project.
The project was put on hold during the pandemic as the shelter needed to stay at full capacity and contractors were simply not available. We are thrilled to announce that we are ready to start phase two!
We are asking the community to match these initial donations and help us continue this project right through to Phases Two and Three. We seek to raise $100,000 from individuals and community organizations by October of 2023 in order to finish the project.
Your support will help us to guide an additional 100 to 140 families in the coming years through the last leg of the race—The Home Stretch—and bring them to their forever home happier, healthier, and stronger for it.
In-Kind Business Supporters: Phase 1
The funds from The Ilene and Ken Stern Fund were able to be stretched much further due to the in-kind donations of several local businesses, many of which were brought on to the project due the generous efforts of Groen Construction and SMP Architecture:
Cobb Hill Construction
Phil Hastings & Matthew Mortenson of
Cleveland, Waters & Bass
Groundbreaking & Excavation
KJ Fisher & Sons
ICF Block Suppilers
Nudura & Atlantic Building Supply
Asphalt Paving Supplies
Capital City Paving
Pella of New England
The Friends Program would like to publicly thank each of these donors for their generosity and empathy towards families experiencing homelessness, and for truly making a difference in the future of New Hampshire.