Concord officials consider removing homeless encampments

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Concord city officials are considering cutting down trees near the Merrimack River to reveal and remove homeless encampments.

The idea was discussed Monday during Concord’s Public Safety Board meeting, the Concord Monitor reported.

City councilor Fred Keach suggested removing all trees behind the Capitol Plaza shopping center on Storrs Street, similar to how trees were cleared from behind the Holiday Inn on Storrs Street.

Councilor Candace Bouchard agreed that the encampment is an immediate public safety issue and suggested the city plan temporary housing options to get ahead of a situation that could become worse with the coronavirus pandemic affecting housing availability and affordability.

“I think with COVID, we’re going to see an increase in homelessness with people being evicted. They’re expecting nationally huge numbers,” Bouchard said. “We really need to start honing in on some sort of temporary housing and moving towards some sort of livable shelters other than the outdoors and try to get ahead of this curve and be prepared.”

Councilor Zandra Rice Hawkins shared a report from the city’s director of human services, Karen Emis-William, that estimates there are between 150 and 170 people experiencing homelessness in Concord.

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