Waypoint Expansion Plan

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Waypoint takes THE NEXT STEPS toward ending youth homelessness in NH

A ground-breaking study reveals that one in 10 young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, and at least one in 30 adolescents between 13 and 17, experience some form of homelessness over the course of a year.

Adolescence and the transition to adulthood is a critical period in human development. Every day of housing instability and the associated stressors represents missed opportunities to support healthy development and transitions to productive adulthood.

Source: Missed Opportunities: Youth Homelessness in America; Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

The time is NOW

It is estimated that approximately 15,000 youth will experience some form of homelessness this year in New Hampshire. At least 70% of these young people will not have the option to return home. Many will couch-surf, and as such, they will fly under the radar, meaning that we are likely UNDER-estimating the true magnitude of the problem. Many others will sleep in cars, tents, and endure the extremes of homelessness…living on the streets where they will be in grave danger of being victimized or exploited. The longer they are there, the greater the negative impact on their life, present and future.

To date, Waypoint is the sole provider of comprehensive services for homeless youth in New Hampshire. We provide runaway and homeless youth prevention and street outreach (Manchester, Seacoast), transitional housing (Manchester, Littleton, Concord, Dover), rapid rehousing (State), and a drop-in center (Manchester). But, we’ve long felt the need to do more, and in tandem with the greater community.

Catalyst for change

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness says that a coordinated community response is critical to preventing and ending youth/young adult homelessness, with drop-in centers serving as catalysts for prevention, identification, and early intervention. So, in 2021, with great community support, Waypoint took steps to expand its services to youth across the State; plans are underway for drop-in centers in Concord and Rochester, and an emergency shelter for youth in Manchester.

Before the pandemic began, Waypoint staff and community partners across the State noticed a spike in youth and young adults who were unsheltered. Last year, in the Seacoast’s Tri-city area alone, Waypoint received 174 referrals. And so, this past summer, Waypoint purchased 3 Wallace Street in Rochester and began transforming the facility into a space where young people ages 12 to 23 will be able to drop in for services, support, and basic needs relief. The Center will feature free laundry facilities, showers, a food pantry, a clothing closet, grab and go meals, computers, mail service, outside space, support groups, and pro-social activities. It will also be a safe space where youth can get help with education and employment, case management, access to treatment services, and more. The site should be ready to open in the spring of 2022.

Concurrently, in the Capitol region, Waypoint is laying out plans to open a drop-in at its Concord location. The 103 North State Street building is being fit up to serve a dual purpose as a Family Resource Center and a Youth Resource Center. Work should be done by the end of this year. We’ll also add a Street Outreach Program in the region, which will put boots on the ground to locate and connect with homeless youth throughout the City.
Erin George-Kelly, director of Waypoint’s Homeless Youth and Young Adult Services says, “It really is an opportunity to take young people out of that survival mode of ‘Where's my next meal coming from? How am I going to take a shower?’ to getting their basic needs met so that they can then start working on some goals.”

In Manchester, more than 700 young people, ages 13 to 25, experience some form of homeless each year, according to our research. More than 90% of those who use our services identify the Queen City as their home community. Currently, there are NO shelters designed to serve youth, anywhere in the State.

So, in late summer 2021, Waypoint purchased a State property on 298 Hanover Street, the former site of New Hampshire Employment Security. After the City approved funding for renovations, which are estimated to cost $1.27 million, Waypoint went to work creating an overnight shelter and three studio apartments to help homeless youth transition to permanent housing. Renovations to be completed by end of October, 2022.

Lasting solutions to a growing problem

Services such as these constitute early intervention; they reduce long-term instability and the risk of youth becoming chronically homeless adults. In addition, comprehensive services mitigate the long-term effects of homelessness including substance use disorders, chronic health conditions, incarceration, and mental health concerns.

The cost to human life is great, as is the cost to society. If you think other people’s homelessness does not affect you, consider that every person society fails costs each taxpayer that much more. According to National Network for Youth, the cost to maintain a youth in the criminal justice system for one year is over nine times greater per person than the cost of moving a youth to permanent housing.

Waypoint hopes that through community response, public interest, and collective advocacy, we can create a stronger social safety net, reach more youth across the State, ensure that homelessness is brief, rare, and non-reoccurring, and effectively get another step closer to ending youth homelessness in New Hampshire.

“This is part of a comprehensive, coordinated, and collaborative response to youth and young adult homelessness in NH” says Borja Alvarez de Toledo, president and CEO of Waypoint. “On behalf of Waypoint and all the youth we serve, we thank the community for supporting this change-making initiative for the young people of New Hampshire.”

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