SALEM — When Selectman Patrick Hargreaves encountered a homeless man during the snowstorm last week, he became concerned the town wasn’t doing enough to help.
Hargreaves called the Fire Department to see if the man could be helped, but was told he would have to taken to a shelter in Lawrence, Haverhill or Nashua. He ended up paying for the man to stay the night at the Holiday Inn.
Hargreaves told fellow selectmen at their meeting Monday that Salem needs to do more to help the homeless during emergency situations.
He said he was surprised the town didn’t have a shelter to accommodate the man, whom he met while getting a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. The two-day storm last week dumped 8 inches of snow in Salem and brought freezing cold.
“It was below zero that night,” Hargreaves said. “This particular person had no place to go.”
Hargreaves said it’s often impossible for homeless people to get to a shelter that’s miles away.
“Well, it’s kind of hard for a homeless person to go to Lawrence, Haverhill or Nashua if you don’t have a car,” he said.
Hargreaves asked that cots be set up at Town Hall, the Ingram Senior Center, or the police and fire stations if a shelter were not available in town, but was told by Town Manager Keith Hickey that may not be possible.
“The challenge we have is an appropriate location,” Hickey said. “I have a bit of a concern housing somebody in the fire station or police department.”
Melanie Nesheim, board president for Family Promise of Greater Rockingham County, has said a survey of area school districts revealed there are more than 150 homeless families in Southern New Hampshire. There are also many homeless adults living outside on their own, she said.