Warming Shelter

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery and the 1269 Café will open an overnight warming station at 1269 Cafe at 456 Union St in Manchester, the site of the former St. Casimir School, on Dec. 1.

Two organizations opening an overnight warming station in Manchester this week are asking the public for donations to help fund the operation through the winter.

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery and the 1269 Café will open an overnight warming station at 1269 Cafe at 456 Union St in Manchester, the site of the former St. Casimir School, on Dec. 1.

The collaborative effort has been named, “Hope for the Winter at The Twelve.” The two organizations are teaming up to offer people experiencing homelessness warmth, coffee, and a friendly staff from 11 p.m. through 7 a.m. each night from Dec. 1 through March 31.

“The hope is no one will freeze to death this winter on the streets of the state’s largest city,” said Keith Howard, executive director of Hope for NH Recovery.

The two organizations are seeking community support to raise $65,000 to fund the operation, or about $17 per night, per guest, Howard said.

As of Sunday, the organizations have raised more than $7,000 toward their goal, with another $30,000 in donations promised by two local churches, Howard said.

“Hope and 1269 Cafe want people to stay alive and be healthy this winter and are stepping up to fill a much-needed service in the community,” said Howard. “Living on the street or in a tent in May or August is challenging. But in the winter, fingers, toes and ears are at risk. Frostbite is serious business and hypothermia puts people out of business for good.”

“The Families in Transition shelter currently offers 138 beds and has been regularly at or near capacity most nights,” said Mary Chevalier of 1269 Cafe.

“In spite of limited resources, we have decided to partner with Hope to ensure that people are not out in the cold this winter and we need the community’s support.”

Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Cashin said currently 1269 Cafe operates under emergency sheltering guidelines.

“At night they are sheltering people on the bottom floor in the basement,” Cashin said. “There’s an ‘x’ amount of people they can get in there based on those guidelines.”

Using money recently approved to repair fire escapes at 456 Union St., the plan is to move those people receiving emergency shelter to the third floor, and use the bottom floor as a warming station.

“That station will accommodate as many people as we need to,” said Cashin. “If FIT is filled, they will go to 1269 to the warming station, where they will not be able to get beds but they will be able to get warm.”

Manchester Fire Chief Andre Parent said the current permit for 1269 Cafe would allow for about 150 people to be inside.

“There’s no way we would allow that, it would be too congested in there,” said Parent. “We’ll evaluate it as we move forward.”

Both Parent and Cashin have told city officials the warming station plan, in partnership with the Families in Transition (FIT) shelter, should accommodate anyone looking to get out of the cold, based on the current homeless population in Manchester.

“Ideally we would like to have about 50 people in there (the warming station) a night, but we’re not looking to turn anyone away,” said Howard.

FIT shelter management has come under fire recently as members of the public have used the comment portion of recent aldermen meetings to air complaints. Speakers at the meeting highlighted concerns over conditions at the shelter, the facility’s policies for checking in and out, and a high rate of turnover among staff.

Maria Devlin, president and CEO of FIT, said the organization believes in the importance of advocacy for those it serves.

“We recognize that this is an ongoing dialogue and we value feedback and constructive criticism,” Devlin said. “Too many people are happy to talk about us, but too few are talking to us, and checking the facts behind the complaints.”

Donations for Hope for the Winter at The Twelve can be made online through the Hope for NH Recovery website at: https://recoverynh.org/hope-for-the-winter-warming-station/

Checks can also be directed and mailed to:

Hope for New Hampshire Recovery

Attn: Hope for the Winter 1269 Warming Station

293 Wilson Street, Manchester, NH 03103