Agreement reached to use Tirrell House as women's homeless shelter

Jan. 11—Manchester officials said Wednesday the state has agreed to let the city use the vacant Tirrell House on Brook Street as a women's homeless shelter.

The city will partner with YWCA New Hampshire to provide staffing and wraparound services at 15 Brook St. The facility was home to a Men's Transitional Living Program operated by Families in Transition until November 2022.

"This is a huge win for the city," said Manchester Fire Chief Ryan Cashin. "The Emergency Operations Center has been working to identify spots around the city to use. It will take a while to get the site operational as a women's shelter, but this is a big deal."

Cashin said once up and running, the site can provide shelter for 16 women. Approval of a Use of Premises Agreement with the state by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen was being sought Wednesday via a phone poll. The matter will come before the Executive Council for approval next Wednesday, Jan. 18.

An exact date to open the new shelter has yet to be determined, Cashin said.

"I want to thank the YWCA for stepping up to help the City of Manchester address this critical need, as well as the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services for responding to our request for use of the former Tirrell House," said Mayor Joyce Craig in a statement. "We are encouraged by this collaboration, and we hope this is a first step toward a more cooperative approach to addressing homelessness across the state."

YWCA New Hampshire operates Emily's Place, a confidential emergency shelter for individuals rebuilding their lives after experiencing domestic and/or sexual violence.

"YWCA NH is pleased to partner with Mayor Joyce Craig and the City of Manchester to support the development and implementation of a women focused shelter in our city," said Jessica Cantin, CEO, YWCA New Hampshire. "We have provided trauma-informed shelter services in the community for over 30 years. Innovation during a time of crisis, can be challenging, this type of collaboration is how we continue to address the acute needs of the unhoused community here in Manchester."

The city began using the Cashin Senior Activity Center as a temporary overnight winter homeless shelter with cots this weekend, prompting dozens of calls and emails over the weekend from seniors upset with the plan.

The city provides storage of belongings and transportation to and from the shelter.

The shelter's hours of operation for the temporary warming station — open from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily — won't interfere with regular business or senior activities at the Cashin Center, city officials said, promising Aramark will perform deep cleaning and sanitization every morning, including electrostatic sprayers and disinfecting of surfaces.

City officials said that on Tuesday night, the Cashin Center served 15 people.

Since the Cashin Center was opened last Friday, a total of 31 individuals have been served, with many staying multiple nights.

Cashin said reports on social media of an overdose at the Cashin Center Tuesday night are inaccurate.

"There was no overdose and the ambulance requested for this concern was canceled," Cashin said in a statement.

Use of the Tirrell House was requested by Craig and seven other New Hampshire mayors in a letter sent on Jan. 3 to Gov. Chris Sununu, Acting Commissioner of Health and Human Services Lori Weaver, and Associate Commissioner Christine Santaniello to address a statewide shortage of emergency shelter beds for women experiencing homelessness.