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Stories about the impact of the Emergency Housing Program

  • I’m writing to thank you so much for all of your help and support during one of the hardest times in our lives... (full story)
  • It seems my life really started on June 7th, the day my son was born. That day was the best and worst day of my life... (full story)
  • I came to the Friends Emergency Housing Program in May of 2007. Some months earlier I had been in an abusive relationship... (full story)

Testimonials from clients

"Friends Emergency Housing turns your nightmares into dreams." - Marta, age 15

"When my train came to a complete halt, Friends Emergency Housing helped me back onto the tracks!" - Abbie, age 39

"My world came crashing down around me with no where to turn, Friends Emergency Housing Program helped me rebuild a bigger and stronger new world for my family.!" - Karen, age 28

"Friends Emergency Housing is the light at the end of the tunnel; the hand that brushes you off and puts you back on your feet. Now I’m ready to re-enter the world!" - Jeremy, age 35

"Wow, did I learn a lot! I learned how to budget my money, how to be a great future renter, how to get along with different people, and all of the resources in my community. Now I work full-time at a job I love and volunteer with two different agencies. It’s my small way of saying “thank-you”. " - Jamikea, age 37

"Life turned around for me the day a staff member said “Homeless is a situation you are in, it is NOT who you are." That was two years ago and I’m so grateful the program was there for me and my kids. Even, now that we’re in our own home and I’m working as a full-time medical assistant I still call FEH when I need advice!" - Ashleigh, age 24

Sarah's Story

I came to the Friends Emergency Housing Program in May of 2007. Some months earlier I had been in an abusive relationship so I came to Concord to the Battered Womens shelter. When I was no longer at risk, I went to the Friends Emergency Housing Program. At first I hated it. I felt like there were too many rules and things I need to do. But in the end, I realized the rules are there for a reason; to get people on their feet and get them out of the rut that brought them there in the first place.

I was there for two months, then I was chosen for the transitional program they have. And now, for the first time in my life I live alone with my kids. I have a job and I pay my own way. I don’t depend on a man, my parents or the system. And I feel good about myself. My life is finally on track after so long of being a mess and I owe it all to the Friends Emergency Housing Program.

Sarah, age 32
2007 Emergency Housing Resident

The Need

The need for shelter for homeless families is greater than ever and the Friends Emergency Housing Program is the only family shelter in Merrimack County. Did you know that the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old and more than 50% of those that are homeless are families with children? Finding affordable housing for the low-income families we serve is extremely difficult. In fact, not only is the affordable housing shortage impacting low-income single-parent families, but all families in the New Hampshire workforce. COVID created significant barriers to accessing affordable housing for many New Hampshire families and deepened the need for housing support systems designed to aid families in finding permanent housing. 

The cost of rental housing in our community remains alarmingly high. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Merrimack County is over $1,600 per month a 20% increase from last year. With a vacancy rate so low it is hard to even measure it is easy to see how families are unable to find stable housing. 

As the only family shelter in Merrimack County, we are especially aware of the growing number of homeless children. The majority of our shelter residents are homeless children. Across the state, the number of homeless children continues to rise. In 2016 (state of NH fiscal year), nearly half the persons experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire were families with children with 566 adults and 787 children in 497 families.  In our last fiscal year, the Friends Emergency Housing program served 34 families: 95 people (55 children and 40 adults).

The importance of stable housing and economic security in a child’s life cannot be overstated. Homelessness influences every facet of a child’s life and its effects can be swift, severe and critical should interventions not occur. The trauma of homelessness can break families apart. Equally important, homeless adults need to be supported in their role as parents while making long-lasting positive strides to enhance family stability. The goal of our shelter program is to assist in expediting the family’s move into permanent housing, but also understand the responsibility of tending to family functioning.

If you would like to volunteer with our program, please call 603-228-1462 or email us and we would be happy to speak with you.

Kathryn's Story

It seems my life really started on June 7th, the day my son was born. That day was the best and worst day of my life. I couldn’t go home and I had nowhere to turn with this precious baby. My biological family had their own issues to deal with. As I looked at my baby, I knew that no matter what, I would do whatever I could to provide for him.

My name is Kathryn and I spent 6 months at the Friends Emergency Housing Program’s Shelter. I had never faced not having a home. Many months ago, I had left my husband because of his substance abuse issues and escalating temper and moved back into my childhood home. When I left him, I did not know that I was going to become a mom. I worked; I have always worked, paid my bills and lived in my own apartment. I would have considered myself middle-class.

During my stay back at my stepmother’s house, I became sick and was put on bed rest. All the money that I had saved over the last 6 months was almost gone when I went into the hospital to have Jae. He was born by an emergency C-Section, and I was going to need all the help I could get for the first few days.

I made the hard decision to call the Friends Emergency Housing Program to see if they had any space available for us, and they did. I was so scared thinking “I know what a shelter looks like. I am going to be stuck with a bunch of scary people and sleeping on a cot.” When I finally got to the Emergency Housing Program, staff kindly sat me down and helped me with all the paperwork, carry my things up to the room and made sure that I had everything that I needed.

I was so happy to see that there were other people here like me. It was nothing like what I have seen on TV. It was a relief. You couldn’t even tell it was a shelter. Kids were playing, woman laughing and offering to help. Staff made it clear that they were here to help me but that I would need to also help myself. They taught me how to budget, work with creditors, find resources in the community and most of all they taught me that just because I was homeless that wasn’t who I was. Within the first 6 weeks I secured daycare for my son, and found a job. It took 6 months for me to secure safe, affordable housing for my family.

If not for the wonderful staff at the shelter I would not be the person that I am today. I have become stronger. I know that we will be ok. I know that there is help out there. The staff will help you learn the ways to become self-sufficient if you want to learn. They will help you learn how to help yourself.

Today I work full time for a nonprofit agency, I am finishing my degree, my son still attends the same daycare and I have a home. Thank you to the Friends staff for being there for those in need and thank you to the wonderful, caring people that donate to help those in need.