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Homeless camps in Manchester get an eviction notice

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 17. 2018 8:50AM

The notice that New Hampshire State Police and transportation workers posted Wednesday on land along the west shore of the Merrimack River in Manchester. (MARK HAYWARD/STAFF)

MANCHESTER — State officials and Manchester police posted notices Wednesday morning to warn homeless people that their camps along the west shore of the Merrimack River will be removed a week from today.

State Department of Transportation workers attached written notices to trees that grow on the sliver of land between Interstate 293 and the Merrimack River. The notices tell people that camping is not allowed on state property without permission and they have until May 24 to move. Any property left behind will be thrown away, and future campers will be subject to a fine.

The land has long drawn homeless people and their tents, but one long-term resident said on Wednesday that only a handful of people live there.

“I’ll pay $100 a month (to stay). Just leave me alone,” said Kai Chambers, who said she has lived in the location for 15 years. This is not the first time that state police and the DOT have cleared out the camps, she said.

She lives in a tent and builds a small fire at night on sandy soil. Several ducks and geese swam on the river and climbed on the embankment while she spoke. They included 14 recently hatched goslings. Much of her conversation dealt with the wild waterfowl and feral cats, which she names, and their interactions with one another.

“I don’t want to be inside, period. I can’t breathe when I’m inside,” she said.

DOT spokesman William Boynton said the DOT initiates removals on an infrequent basis. On May 3, the DOT and state police removed homeless from state land along I-393 in Concord.

“A joint and cooperative effort is being initiated at the request of the city of Manchester to clean up encampments along Interstate 293,” Boynton wrote in an email. He said the advance notice is being given to allow people to vacate the location with their personal items.

“We will be removing whatever is still there,” Boynton said.

The effort involves state police, Manchester police, local agencies and homeless outreach advocates who can provide possible resources and a better living situation for the campers, he said.

Chambers keeps her campsite neat, and she said she carries out her litter.

But areas upriver from her are strewn with the litter of abandoned camps — tents, tarps, clothes, food stuffs, empties. A man’s frozen body was discovered in one camp this past winter, according to previous news accounts.

In early April, Manchester police said steps were under way to remove residents of homeless camps, which included the camp beside the river.

Manchester police Capt. Todd Boucher said on Wednesday that complaints about the river camps deal with their visibility and highway dangers.

When they are intoxicated, the residents will sometimes venture onto the interstate or the ramps, he said.

“When they stumble across the highway, they’re not only a danger to themselves, they’re a danger to motorists,” Boucher said.

On Wednesday, police and transportation workers met three people, including Chambers, when they visited the camps to put up the notice. Boucher said he is unaware of any efforts to remove other city homeless camps at this time.

As for the residents: “a lot of time they just go to a different location,” he said.

Public Safety Social issues Manchester

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