Eight New Hampshire mayors press Sununu for help with homeless crisis

Mayors from eight cities – from Berlin to Manchester to Claremont, Somersworth and beyond – have again appealed to Gov. Chris Sununu for help assisting unhoused people after a tragic holiday week that saw two homeless people die and a woman give birth in a tent during freezing cold weather.

“The state of New Hampshire’s systems of care for individuals experiencing or at-risk of homelessness are not meeting the needs of communities across the state and are contributing to a statewide homelessness crisis,” the mayors wrote in a joint letter Tuesday.

Representatives from Sununu’s office and DHHS didn’t immediate respond for comment. The mayors pointed to inadequate state services for individuals experiencing substance use disorder, mental illness, chronic health conditions, histories of trauma, and incarceration as all substantial factors contributing to homelessness in New Hampshire.

The family of Alexandra Eckersley, 26, who gave birth in a tent in Manchester Dec. 26 at about 12:30 a.m. recently criticized services in New Hampshire.

She is the adoptive daughter of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer and retired Red Sox broadcaster Dennis Eckersley.

“As in many states, the mental health system in New Hampshire is broken. The state hospital used to have 2,500 psychiatric beds,” the Eckersley said is a public statement last week.

“Now there are less than 200 for more than 1.2 million citizens and the state was forced to eliminate another 48 beds this fall because of staff shortages. Without adequate inpatient beds for crisis, treatment and stabilization, a state mental system fails.”