By Mayor Joyce Craig
Ensuring the safety of Manchester residents and visitors is my number one priority. If people don’t feel safe living and working in our community, Manchester will never reach its full potential. And that’s why since day one, I’ve worked closely with our city department heads and community partners to continue building a safer, healthier, and stronger Manchester. I’ll continue working with Chief Capano to give the Manchester Police Department the resources they need to keep the Queen City a great place to live, work, and raise a family — but we also need to look at the root causes of the challenges Manchester faces and invest in opportunities to help vulnerable communities.
Since I’ve been elected to serve the people of Manchester, I’ve been committed to supporting our police officers. From voting to increase the number of officers on the police force several years ago as an Alderman, to fully-funding body cameras for the first time in history and adding 15 new police officers this year as mayor, I have remained committed to working with our law enforcement officials to ensure they have what they need to keep our community safe.
By utilizing predictive policing, stepping up community policing efforts and increasing foot patrols, the men and women of the Manchester Police Department are continually working to better connect with our community, residents, and business owners.
And because of the work of our dedicated law enforcement officials, we’re seeing results in Manchester. Since I took office in January 2018, crime has decreased, and this year we’ve seen an additional 6 percent drop.
On top of increasing resources for law enforcement officials, I’ve also worked to improve communication and coordination between city departments and local service organizations. We’re helping people in Manchester who are struggling with addiction, mental illness, and homelessness so they receive the help they need.
As a city, we’ve committed ourselves to improving access to treatment, recovery, and other services for our vulnerable populations. Enacting new ordinances and criminalizing behaviors that stem from desperation and mental illness will never prevent the challenges homelessness presents to our community; we must work together to end the root causes.
We created the Mayor’s Taskforce on Homelessness to focus on addressing panhandling, outreach and services, housing, and prevention. As a result of this work, we’ve hired a Homelessness Prevention and Response Coordinator in partnership with the Granite United Way to lead collaboration between the City of Manchester and non-profits, as well as tracking the causes of homelessness. In conjunction with the Manchester Chamber, we’re also developing a ‘Good Change’ campaign to encourage giving directly to charities— rather than panhandlers.
By expanding the Healthcare for the Homeless program to a third clinic, and preparing to launch a mobile medical van, we can ensure injury and illness won’t hold people back even in the hardest to reach communities. This year, I was able to allocate more than $2.8 million in federal funds for homelessness prevention and affordable housing. We’ve also allocated additional funding to the Families in Transition – New Horizons shelter for renovations, and so they can remain open during the day to provide addiction treatment and recovery services as well as mental and physical health care.
In addition, when I first took office, we convened community leaders, city departments, nonprofits and service organizations to take a look at our Safe Station program. As a result of this work, we made the process more efficient — reducing the time it takes to access treatment from an average of 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days. Safe Station is an effective access point, but because of a lack of treatment options across the state, Manchester has become one of the few places Granite Staters think they can go to access care. And as a result, our community is carrying the burden of the state. Since its inception, I have communicated with the State and Governor Sununu to fix the Doorway Program so individuals can receive care in their home communities, and to provide Manchester much-needed relief. The goal of the Doorway Program is to keep individuals in their home communities, but Manchester has not seen a decrease in people coming into the city for treatment. This statewide problem should not be left to the people of Manchester to solve.
While continuing to work on a local level to increase services, over the last year and a half, we have also partnered with organizations outside of our community to bring in additional resources. As a result of being accepted into the National League of Cities: Mayor’s Institute on Opioids, we received a $45,000 grant to fund a position focused on supporting the care of pregnant women and their newborn babies struggling from the opioid crisis at Amoskeag Health. We also were connected to Pastor Greg Delaney, and had the opportunity to bring him to Manchester for the first-ever faith-based convening to discuss how we could all work together to tackle the addiction epidemic.
Through these efforts, and more, our city has come together over the last year and a half to improve services, help our vulnerable populations and keep our community safe.
Our city is working because we’re working together — but there’s more work we need to do. In a second term, I’ll continue the progress we’ve made together, and work to develop new programs, partnerships, services and continue making progress to build a stronger, and safer Manchester.