Grants by Santander Bank and local trusts, plus federal recovery funds, boost Front Door Agency

NASHUA – The Front Door Agency, the Nashua-based social services agency that assists women and families with housing, education and other life-skills needs, has been selected for a $15,000 grant from Santander Bank to help the agency maintain and grow its Housing Stability Program.

The grant will “help people in Greater Nashua find and maintain permanent housing” through the stability program, according to Front Door Agency marketing and media relations coordinator Michelle Toomey.

She said the program served more than 1,000 people last year by providing assistance with most housing-related costs, such as security deposit loans, rapid “re-housing” for people experiencing homelessness, and financial counseling.

The grant, along with funding from a Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery Shelter Modification grant, the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and the Ann DeNicola and Mary Louise Billings trusts, have helped the agency purchase its sixth affordable-housing residence, a duplex at 57-59 Marshall St.

Santander regional president Michael Bruno said the bank is “proud to partner” with the Front Door in its mission to provide affordable housing.

“Ensuring that families across New England have access to affordable, secure housing is a key mission we share with the Front Door Agency,” Bruno said.

The partnership “continues to make a difference in the lives of community members, especially as we continue to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing availability,” he added.

Expanding its affordable housing inventory is a main focus of the Front Door Agency, especially in light of the need to “relieve the financial burden that Nashua’s skyrocketing rent puts on local families,” Toomey said.

She said that “according to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, rent in Nashua increased in each of the past seven years.

Between 2019 and 2020 alone, the median rent for a two-bedroom unit went up by 5% and now exceeds $1,400 per month.

“This rising cost is difficult for local families to keep up with, especially those making minimum wage or experiencing a temporary crisis,” Toomey added.

Doug Howard, manager of Front Door’s Housing Stability Program, said the agency “believes that everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home.”

“Our Housing Stability Program alleviates the stress of survival by helping families maintain their current housing or obtain permanent housing,” Howard said.

“Once that basic need is met, families can focus on taking the next steps to regain self-sufficiency.”

For more information on Front Door Agency and its programs, or to apply for assistance, go to www.frontdooragency.org.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com.