State police move in to dismantle homeless camp in Manchester


A homeless camp at the Superior Courthouse in Manchester was dismantled Friday, and city officials said they’re upset with how the state carried out the eviction.

State police moved in Friday morning, days after a state-imposed deadline for removal.

The camp has been a bone of contention between the state and city of Manchester, with both sides blaming each other for letting the situation get worse. Caught in the middle are those who have been camping on the lawn.

“It’s very disgusting to see this happening, because they’re basically pushing us off one lawn onto the streets again,” said Calvin Atwood, who said he has been homeless for seven years.

State officials and local providers said they approached each person living in the encampment and presented them with several options for alternative housing.

“For individuals who did not want to choose another housing, they were assisted in packing their items and moving off the courthouse property,” said Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards.

Agencies were present to help relocate people. New Horizons-Families in Transition found beds for 10, but for others, like Atwood, the news was cold comfort.

“They’re not really helping us,” he said. “They’re really just kicking us down.”

Atwood said he’s not sure where he will go now.

“What’s next for me? Probably jail from here,” he said.

As the dismantling of the camp continued, many of those being moved said the solution being offered by the state is no solution at all and believe they’ll be back out on the streets in a couple of days.

“The problem is that you get into that housing, and if you use it one time, you get kicked out, so you end up right back here where you started,” said Bobby, a self-described heroin addict.

Bobby said he’s not ready to quit heroin, so the shelters are not an option for him.

“I use to alleviate the pain, the heartache and everything that I don’t know how else to deal with,” he said.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig had harsh words for the removal.

“This action from the state is inhumane, causing trauma to individuals with nowhere else to go,” Craig said.

Craig said some people’s possessions were destroyed, and they were separated from their case workers.

“In order to provide housing to the remaining people evicted from the state property, the city coordinated efforts with Cafe 1269, and they are standing up an emergency shelter in the city,” Craig said.

In a joint statement, officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and Department of Safety said all residents of the camp repeatedly had been offered alternative housing and other services. They said 27 people had left the camp after accepting services, and another six left Friday morning after accepting services.

Those who didn’t leave were issued summonses for illegal camping, a violation. Two people who continued to refuse to leave were arrested and charged with criminal trespass, state officials said.

Officials from the Attorney General’s Office said the state has been working with the homeless residents since the summer and couldn’t wait any longer to clear the property.

“The people who ended up leaving today and not taking alternative housing made that choice on their own, and they have every right to do that, but they don’t have a right to be camping on state property,” Edwards said.

A temporary fence was set up, and officials with the Attorney General’s Office said a permanent one will be installed.


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