A couple of weeks ago, a group of homeless men were evicted from the area where they were living on land that is owned by the state. There's been a crackdown on homeless camps by the city for the last few months.
The homeless population in Concord is estimated to be around 150. There is one homeless shelter with 26 beds. The math doesn't work. And some homeless folks aren't going to be eligible for a shelter, even if there were one the size of a hotel.
Barbara Keshan, a lawyer for the NH CLU, was in court yesterday on behalf of 3 homeless men who are bringing a suit against the city, arguing that they can't be prohibited from camping on state owned land.
The state is putting up no camping signs, and wanted the homeless camps to be vacated by the 24th. The judge gave a 10 day extension, saying that the state can't enforce evictions for 10 days, till the 30th, at which point they will be back in court again.
A number of activists and members of the faith community gathered outside the courthouse yesterday afternoon, in support of the plaintiffs and the entire homeless community. Barbara Keshan spoke briefly about the dangers inherent in criminalizing a group of people based on their status: being poor and homeless. In the 1700's the city of Concord purchased a tract of land for a poor farm, recognizing that poor, homeless people had to go somewhere.
A man known as "Stretch" asked, "If the cops want us gone, why do they keep giving us summons, so that we can't leave?"
These people have to live somewhere. They are among the most vulnerable in our society. Can we resolve this in a kind and compassionate way?