NH Evicts Homeless From Encampment at Manchester Courthouse

The city's mayor criticized the state's move to clear the encampment outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse without coordinating with local nonprofits or city officials.

A homeless encampment outside the Hillsborough County Courthouse in Manchester, New Hampshire.
NBC10 Boston

A homeless encampment outside of a Manchester, New Hampshire, courthouse was cleared Friday, state officials said, with tickets issued to people who refused to go.

The encampment had grown for months at the Hillsborough County Courthouse and persisted, with assistance from the community, when an eviction notice was issued by New Hampshire Monday that said there's no camping on state property.

"The State has worked patiently for five days beyond its original deadline for individuals to leave the property to help individuals secure services. Those who chose not to leave were issued summonses for illegal camping," read a statement from the New Hampshire departments of health and human services, justice and state.

The statement noted that officials had made repeated attempts to offer alternative arrangements for people at the encampment, including Friday morning. Thirty-three of the people who'd been living outside the courthouse accepted an offer to move to an alternative, safe housing site; officials have said there were 70 people living there in total.

A homeless encampment has been growing outside the courthouse in Manchester, New Hampshire, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and it remains despite an eviction order.

State police were securing the courthouse grounds, which were cleaned and are being secured with a fence.

Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig was critical of the move, saying in a statement that the eviction wasn't coordinated with local nonprofits -- whose resources are already strained -- or the city and that it "will disconnect individuals from services they’ve been receiving for months."

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"In the midst of a pandemic, when community spread is at an all time high, the State is forcing people to move throughout the city with no place to go -- putting the health and safety of those living unsheltered and all Manchester residents at risk. This action from the State is inhumane, causing trauma to individuals with nowhere else to go," Joyce said.

She'd previously told NBC10 Boston and NECN that there were more than 300 people living in encampments throughout the city and no beds available at shelters.

Gov. Chris Sununu was asked about the encampment at his regular coronavirus news briefing on Thursday. He said it wasn't safe for people to continue camping out as winter weather arrived but claimed the city hadn't helped resolve the situation.

On Thursday, strangers had arrived at the encampment to donate blankets, clothes, coffee and pizza. 

“Donations are coming from all over the state and even from out of state,” said State Rep. Chris Balch at the time. “Just concerned people recognizing the struggle these people are having needs to be supported.”

The outpouring of support began when word spread about the state-mandated eviction that was supposed to happen Monday.

“For someone who has little faith in humanity, I’ve definitely had a huge amount of it restored after what’s happening here,” said one person who'd been living there.

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