Veteran's Homeless Shelters: In your backyard? - 315 responses

Nov 11, 2013

Homelessness is a complex social problem with many related causes as well as challenging long and short-term consequences. When viewed in relation to our perceived societal responsibility to assist our nation’s veteran population, however, the issue often creates controversy, especially when such discussions move beyond mere rhetoric. Such is precisely the case in the town of Lee where a zoning battle has begun regarding one veteran’s efforts to turn a single family residence into a homeless veteran’s shelter.

According to most LFDA Facebook members, however, there would be no such battle, as 81% of respondents answered affirmatively when asked, “Would you support a homeless veteran’s shelter in a residential area near you?” In total, the LFDA received 315 citizen responses, including specific comments from 101 individuals supported by 174 concurrences. Additionally, a very small percentage, 3%, said they would not support such a shelter, while 16 % did not offer a clear position.

For the majority, one gentleman’s comments in particular sums up their collective position, as he said, “Any neighborhood should be good for a veterans home—what is the problem? A ‘homeless veteran’ are two words that should never be in the same sentence.”

For those that did not offer a clear position, though, several cited the concern that such shelters only solve part of the problem. “Shelters need to be on public transit and close to other services they are likely to need,” said one woman. “Shelters aren't just a place to store people.”

In fact, such reasoning not only appeared to inform the three percent that expressed an unwillingness to support a homeless veteran’s shelter near them, but individuals in the majority as well.

“I agree there should be more shelters for veteran and civilian homeless,” noted one respondent, “but they should be placed near services and public transportation, regardless of whether they're in residential neighborhoods or in a tiny downtown with nothing around.”

For even those in the majority, the underlying question that must be asked (and consequently answered) is if Lee is in fact the right place for a homeless shelter of any kind. Echoing sentiments expressed by many others, one man remarked, “Lee has absolutely nothing for [the homeless], especially jobs.”

The nonprofit, nonpartisan LFDA takes no position on this or any issue. Rather, we present this report as a summary of citizen testimony on this subject. As New Hampshire’s Virtual Town Hall, the LFDA, now numbering over 22,000, provides objective information on state issues, promotes the civil exchange of opinions, and communicates views to elected officials. To learn more about this issue or the LFDA, visit www.lfda.org.

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