The purpose of this page is to increase awareness of the homelessness problem in the state of New Hampshire. More specifically, in the Rockingham and Strafford counties.
As a resident of Greenland, New Hampshire, I grew up spending a large portion of my time in downtown Portsmouth. Starting in 7th grade, I would help out at the St. John's Church soup kitchen at least once a month. This was my first real experience with people who were struggling. It is a known fact that Portsmouth is an affluent area. Yet at the same time, when you walk through the downtown, you can frequently see people with signs, begging for money, food, etc. Witnessing this sort of behavior created a certain definition of "homeless" which I believed to be the only definition.
In my more recent years, I have begun to discover that the people at the soup kitchen and the people holding cardboard signs are not the only people who fit this definiton. In fact, the "definition" is much broader than I ever would have believed it to be. I have now encountered a variety of people who appear to be completely invisible in terms of homelessness. By that I mean from an outside perspective, there are a multitude of people who do not appear to be struggling, but in reality are in very irregular living situations. Oftentimes these people are treated like anyone else, until it is a known fact that they are homeless and are then viewed in a stigmatized way.
Personally, hearing about different people’s experiences overtime has changed my views on the issue. I have met multiple people who are kind, hard-working and have a great amount of potential. I have met a woman who works every day, does not drink or do drugs, but has been living out of her car for years, simply because she cannot afford housing among her other expenses. I have met a student who worked four jobs on top of attending classes, yet could not afford housing or food as all of the money she was earning went towards tuition bills. I have learned from my conversations with these people, as well as people who work with them, that there is no one definition of homeless, and that we should place more emphasis on helping these individuals to get back on their feet, and less emphasis on our ideas of why we think they might be in their current situation. I hope this page can get people thinking about this issue, as well as become a resource for those who are struggling.