Thank you Al, our Headrest Hotline manager for sleeping out in the cold to help bring awareness to homelessness in Lebanon.

A call for life-saving shelter

LEBANON — City officials, residents and community support groups said the Upper Valley needs to have more emergency shelters and other temporary housing accommodations to combat homelessness, at a candlelight vigil this week.

Over 60 people gathered on a frigid Wednesday night in Colburn Park to commemorate Homeless Persons Memorial Day, an annual event held by communities nationwide to recognize individuals who have lost their lives while enduring homelessness.

So far in 2022, there have been 93 deaths involving New Hampshire residents who had struggled with homelessness, according to local event organizers. This list includes four people who had lived in Lebanon: Richard Taliaferro, 73, Carey Brown, 64, Thomas Moore, 82, and Danny Countermarsh, 63.

Many participants in the Lebanon vigil noted an increase in the homelessness-related deaths this year from the 2021 event.

“These were 93 people who should (still) be alive and thriving,” said Angela Zhang, program director at Listen Community Services. “Our current response to the increase in unsheltered individuals constitutes a humanitarian crisis…

Lebanon Human Resources Director Lynne Goodwin said that homelessness in the city seems “worse now than ever before,” partly due to a lack of affordable housing options to meet the demand.

“At any given time in the last year and a half, we have had 70 or more motel rooms being occupied by people experiencing homelessness,” Goodwin said. “And while those folks try to find permanent housing for themselves, it is a monumental challenge to do so.”

Goodwin also said she knows of at least 13 individuals in Lebanon who were living in a tent or a vehicle during the past month.”

– Valley News

Patrick Adrian, Valley News Staff Writer

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