MANCHESTER — The city has to start thinking of housing as part of health care, a Texas consultant told city and state officials Thursday.

The message came from Karla Ramirez, the managing partner of Behealthle Consulting, which Manchester city officials have hired to develop a plan for addressing homelessness.

The firm has addressed homelessness in communities such as San Antonio and Wichita, Kan.

It emphasizes high coordination of health, psychiatric and housing services; use of data to target people most in need; and providing housing as an early part of addressing issues such as drug use that leads to homelessness.

“You need to have housing if you’re going to have health care,” Ramirez said.

Ramirez’ slideshow presentation — titled “Developing a Safety Net for Manchester with GRIT” — is available at

Her organization has been in Manchester this week gathering data, said Mayor Joyce Craig. One of their findings, 30 percent of the state’s homeless live in Manchester, even though the city has 8 percent of the state’s population.

Craig said that statistic is in line with past findings.

“This isn’t just a Manchester issue, and Manchester can’t be the community solving all the issues,” she said.