Dear IDN and Strafford County Colleagues,

There have been several conversations in Strafford County communities recently about opportunities to support our homeless neighbors during cold weather.

The goal of this message (and Facebook post @SCEmergencyShelter) is to raise awareness about the Strafford County Extreme Cold Emergency Shelter – what it is, what it is not, how it runs, when it runs, and how neighbors can help each other through connection with the shelter.

Planning for the Strafford County Extreme Cold Weather Emergency shelter has been underway since February of 2019. Planning accelerated in September of 2019. The Shelter is a collaboration between your Strafford County government, the Integrated Delivery Network in Region 6 (Strafford/Seacoast), and a number of regional social service partners. It is not associated with the Tri-City Mayor’s Task Force or addressed in the Tri-City Mayor’s Task Force Plan.

The Strafford County Extreme Cold Weather Emergency shelter is a resource available to the region when one or more Strafford County communities advise the County that their ability to shelter homeless residents in their city or town has been overwhelmed and they need help responding to a real, objectively identified risk to life-safety caused by weather, just as any other mutual aid support would work in an emergency or disaster situation.

Community leaders and the Tri-City Mayor’s Task Force have been advised of this model, and of the County’s expectation that cities/towns must mount some type of response effort to shelter the homeless population within their community before the County shelter can activate. County leadership and advisors also consider intelligence from NH Homeland Security weather briefings and regional homeless shelter partner capacity in their decision-making process to activate the Emergency Cold Weather Shelter.

If the shelter is activated/opened, it will be at 272 County Farm Road in the same space as last year – the top floor of the Alms House in the building shared with Southeastern NH Services. The shelter space is handicapped accessible, although it requires staff assistance for those with mobility support needs. The shelter is considered ‘low-barrier’, which means we work to make safe shelter available to everyone, regardless of conditions that may impact access to traditional shelters.

Shelter openings will be announced through the Facebook Page @SCEmergencyShelter (Strafford County Emergency Cold Weather Shelter), through email distribution lists, on other social media, and via traditional media with at least 48 hours notice whenever possible.

There are active plans for transportation options to ensure anyone in need can access the shelter. Shuttle service from the Dover Transportation Center will be available whenever COAST bus routes are not available. Detailed transportation plans will be announced with each activation, as plans do vary depending on the event circumstances.

Information about volunteer (and training) opportunities, donation opportunities (supplies and meals), and staffing opportunities (shelter managers and skilled staff) will be posted on the Facebook page and, whenever possible, posted to other media outlets.

The Shelter team can be reached at scwarmingshelter@gmail.com<mailto:scwarmingshelter@gmail.com>. The phone number for the Shelter team is (857)-323-0388.

Thank you for your amazing work serving our most vulnerable neighbors. It is a privilege to work with you all.

Tory Jennison PhD, RN
Director of Population Health
Integrated Delivery Network
Region 6 (Strafford/Seacoast)