N.H. Homelessness Rises, But Some See Hope

Dec 20, 2018

 

Grafton, Carroll, and Cheshire Counties are the only counties that have seen a decrease in homelessness, though experts don't know why.
Credit Courtesy of New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness

Homelessness in New Hampshire has grown over the past two years, even as the state's economy has boomed.

 

A report from The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness says the number of homeless people in the state increased by 10 percent between 2016 and 2018 to a total of 1,450 people.

 

Dr. Cathy Kuhn, the Coalition’s director, says the N.H. Department of Education, which has a broad definition of homelessness that includes people “doubled-up” with friends and relatives, saw a 13 percent increase in 2017, to around 4,000.

“One of the concerning things was a significant increase in the number of children who were counted as homeless in our public school system," she says. "And that's something that we've been seeing go up and up for years now.

Kuhn says this increase could be partially due to substance abuse and unstable homes, but it’s mostly because of the lack of affordable housing.

 

The report says the average renters’ income is steadily increasing across most counties in New Hampshire, but not at the same pace as rents.

 

The one exception is Belknap County, where the average renters' income fell by 7.6 percent. The homelessness rate there has risen dramatically - over 100 percent in the last two years.

 

But it's not all bad news.

 

Kuhn says most of that growth was in 2016, and that the numbers in 2018 appear to be leveling off.

 

"The fact that we were able to sort of keep our numbers level over the past year is very hopeful," she says. "And I think that we can end homelessness in our state; it's not at a level yet where we can't wrap our hands around it."