In 2004, the body of a homeless veteran was found along the banks of the Nashua River in New Hampshire. Staff from Harbor Homes was outraged and began researching ways to provide veteran-specific housing and supportive services to local servicemen and women in NH. The end result is known as “Veterans FIRST”. Read more to learn about the needs of homeless veterans, and how – with your help – Harbor Homes is working hard to end veteran homelessness in NH.
New Hampshire’s Homeless Veterans
Honorably-discharged homeless veterans are a unique and disproportionately represented homeless sub-population. Nationwide, one out of every 4 homeless individuals wore a United States military uniform at some point in their lives. More than 1.5 million veterans are on the verge of homelessness, living in poverty. New Hampshire is no exception to this unfortunate trend.
- Recent estimates indicate more than 600 veterans are homeless in NH.
- At least 7,175 very low-income veteran households in NH are at risk of homelessness.
Additionally, New Hampshire recently experienced its highest military deployment amongst Reservists and National Guard members in history, with more than 1,300 servicemen and women sent to the Middle East. The number of homeless and at-risk veterans is expected to increase significantly as more veterans return home from current military conflicts with deeper emotional scars, more physical disabilities and increased Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) than ever before. Nearly one-third of veterans from the middle-east conflict are diagnosed with mental health disorders, the most prevalent being Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Addiction and co-occurring behavioral health disorders affect 75% and 35% of these same veterans.
In response to these devastating facts, Harbor Homes designs many of its housing, programs, and services to meet the needs of homeless and low-income veteran households. Known collectively as “Veterans FIRST”, this unique mix of affordable housing, employment, and supportive services are evidence-based and nationally recognized best practices designed to end or prevent homelessness among veterans and their families who live in New Hampshire. Below is a brief overview of the program’s components.
Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing
Harbor Homes’ Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing program provides veterans and their families with up to two years to address the causes of their homelessness while living in a safe, supportive environment. While residing in the transitional housing, veterans must remain sober, and pursue employment, further their education, or volunteer within the community. They work with a case manager, employment specialist, and the VA Medical Center to address the issues that led to their homelessness and secure permanent housing, health care, transportation, and meaningful income so that they can live independently when exiting the program.
Harbor Homes currently operates three Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing facilities throughout NH:
Harbor Homes raised over $3.5 million to build a 20-unit transitional housing apartment complex at 46 Spring Street in Nashua for homeless veterans and their families. The facility provided handicapped accessible one and two bedroom apartments, as well as common areas and a large community room. Named “Buckingham Place” after Byron Buckingham, a local veteran advocate, the facility was the first of its kind in the nation to house male and female veterans, and their family members, under one roof.
In 2010, Dalianis House opened. Located at 59 Factory Street in Nashua, the facility was the former home of Avery Furniture. The building underwent a massive renovation, and now provides transitional housing for 40 homeless veterans.
BAE Systems Independence Hall
In June 2013, Harbor Homes opened its fourth Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing facility at 335 Somerville Street in Manchester, NH. Six units of permanent supportive housing are also included in the design. The site previously contained a dilapidated, vacant warehouse in jeopardy of foreclosure. Harbor Homes purchased and demolished the building in 2012, and is in the final phases of fundraising for the $5.2 million project. The facility will provide 26 one and two bedroom apartments for male and female homeless veterans and their family members. Funders include the US Department of Veteran Affairs, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Merrimack County Savings Bank, Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, City of Manchester (Neighborhood Stabilization Program funding), and Citizens Bank. Sponsorship opportunities and naming rights are still available as we seek to raise an additional $300,000 from the community to complete the project. For more information, please contact us or visit our Donate page.
Veterans FIRST Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program
Funded through a Department of Labor grant, Harbor Homes provides homeless veterans throughout Hillsborough County the opportunity to participate in a unique employment and workforce development program. Veterans work one-on-one with employment specialists to receive advanced job training, obtain employment, and retain that employment. Local companies interested in hiring veterans and homeless veterans looking for employment can Contact Us for more information.
Veterans FIRST Permanent Supportive and Affordable Housing Programs
Different from our Veterans FIRST Transitional Housing programs, this kind of housing is permanent and is open to not only homeless veterans, but also low-income disabled and elderly veterans. We currently offer shared housing and one to three bedroom apartments in Nashua and Claremont, NH. Veteran households pay no more than 30% of their income on rent, and have access to some supportive services. Contact Us for more information.
NEW! Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program
Funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs, this statewide initiative will provide 300 low-income veteran households throughout NH with access to the resources necessary to end or prevent homelessness through case management and subsidies that enable the veteran household to gain or maintain their housing. Contact Us for more information.
Thanks to the Veterans FIRST program and the generosity of the entire community, Harbor Homes has made significant impacts on behalf of homeless veterans throughout NH.
- More than 285 veteran households moved from homelessness to independence since 2005
- More than 430 homeless veterans obtained employment since 2008
- A strategic 4-year plan to end veteran homelessness in NH was authored by Harbor Homes and other veteran advocates, and formally adopted by Governor Lynch in 2010
View our Veterans FIRST Info-graphic here that depicts our impact!