Manchester city workers, police on site at downtown encampment to enforce vacate order


Manchester Ink Link

Published: 01-18-2023 2:51 PM

Manchester’s Department of Public works delivered totes to a downtown homeless encampment as police began the process of moving people from tens set up on city sidewalks.

The city on Tuesday learned that it had prevailed in a court challenge to its order by the American Civil Liberties Union, which allowed the city to follow through with dismantling the makeshift campsite of some 40 tents at the intersection of Manchester and Pine streets, outside the cold weather shelter operated by Families in Transition.

The encampment has grown in size and scope over the past few months. Recently members of the local business community have pressured the city to take action, citing disruption including the presence of trash, feces and hypodermic needles, as well as safety concerns and loss of business. A daycare center across the street announced it would be closing its doors in June and selling the building.

During Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, the city announced additional shelter options would soon be launched in two vacant buildings, at 39 Beech St., and the former bus depot on Canal Street, in addition to the state-owned Tirrell House, which will provide long-term shelter for women.

A gathering of advocates for the homeless were also present at the encampment Wednesday morning.

Dam Wright, who has at times embedded himself at the encampment, and speaks on their behalf at aldermanic meetings, said the tone was somber.

“It’s been a safe space for a lot of people, ” he said.

Police have been kind and helpful, for the most part, he said.

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He also said Police Chief Allen Aldenberg came by and let everyone know they would begin breaking down the encampment at about 8 a.m.

Dennis Higgins, who has been living homeless in Manchester for about a year, was loading up his collection of bicycles Tuesday afternoon. He said he wasn’t sure where he was going to go next.

“There’s still a fight here,” Higgins said. He has been attending city meeting regularly and says he has tried to give a voice to those who are not able to stand up for themselves.