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December 20. 2013 6:22PM

Harbor Homes to bolster efforts to help the homeless in Nashua

NASHUA — Trying to combat homelessness in the Greater Nashua region, a local organization has started a new fundraising campaign to help individuals who are frequently living on the streets.

Harbor Homes of Nashua is hoping to raise at least $100,000 in the next year — money that will be used to pay rent for chronically homeless people living in Nashua and its surrounding communities.

"We can take care of these people who are the most vulnerable in our state," said Bob Keating, volunteer and one of the founders of Harbor Homes.

According to Keating, there are about 304 chronically homeless individuals living in the Greater Nashua area. Chronically homeless is identified as a person who has been living on the streets, in a car or at a shelter for more than a year, has been homeless multiple times and has a disabling condition — either psychiatric or physical — that prevents them from being economically self sufficient.

"I have seen people who have been in state hospitals for years at a time, but once they leave and have support services to rely on, they stay in their new homes," said Keating. "Helping this group of chronically homeless people is morally and ethically sound, and economically it makes sense."

It is not a pie-in-the-sky idea, said Keating, adding if these men and women are offered a helping hand, and they have the services necessary, they will thrive.

The Ending Homelessness Fund has just been created, although about $35,000 has already been raised by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Nashua, according to Keating, who said he is grateful for the generous donation.

The fund, specifically for the Greater Nashua Continuum of Care, will be officially launched next month on Jan. 29, the same day the state initiates its annual homelessness count.

"It is a very fitting day," said Keating, who is spearheading the fundraising efforts with his wife.

Although the $100,000 in funds will not be able to provide rent for all of Nashua's 304 chronically homeless individuals, he said it is a step in the right direction. And, if the same amount of money is able to be raised year after year, the number of homeless people could significantly decrease over time, he added.

"The Keatings and their group's effort to establish the Ending Homelessness Fund is truly a gift," said Peter Kelleher, CEO and President of Partnership for Successful Living in Nashua. "They are champions and heroes in our community, with the mission to end homelessness. They are also true believers in the cause, and here at Harbor Homes we hope the community will support their efforts as do we."

The State of Homelessness in New Hampshire report from 2013 indicates that there were 1,685 homeless individuals throughout the state at the time the count was conducted this past January.

"When you look at strategic areas such as Nashua and Manchester, we know these people are out there, even though it may not be as visible in comparison to New York City or Los Angeles," said Keating, who is optimistic that New Hampshire organizations can work together to end homelessness in the state.

While the kick-off event for the fund will not be held until 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at Harbor Homes, 45 High St., money is already being collected. To learn more about the fund, or to make an online donation, visit www.harborhomes.org/ehf/. \
Questions may be directed by email to donations@haborhomes.org, or by calling 882-3616.

khoughton@newstote.com


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