Early Serious Mental Illness and Homelessness: Realities, Resources, and Hope


Kadyja Harris, Youth Success Project
Ariel Hayes, Youth Success Project
Mandy Lancaster, Waypoint
Freeman Toth, Belknap/Merrimack CAP, Inc.


Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Good afternoon. We’re going to just wait a few seconds while people hop on to the meeting,

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): because we know it can take a while to get into the Zoom room.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): So good afternoon. I’m. Michelle Wagner with NAMI New Hampshire and I work on the First Episode Psychosis Early Serious Mental Illness Initiative.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Thank you for joining us for today’s Webinar titled Early Serious Mental Illness and Homelessness Realities Resources and Hope.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): This presentation is being recorded, and you’ll be able to find it on the education page of OnwardNH.Org.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): There’s a short evaluation we’re asking folks to complete. After today’s presentation

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): You’ll also receive a follow up email with links to both the survey and the recording.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): This is a Zoom Webinar. That means your camera and microphone are off,

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): the Q&A feature is working however, so please enter any questions you have there.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): My colleague, Emily Huff, and I will work to get your questions answered as best we can.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): With us today are 4 people who can help us to discuss today’s topic, which is a grave concern to many of us the experience of being unhoused in New Hampshire, and how that relates to early serious mental illness.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): We Have with us co-directors of the New Hampshire Youth Success Project

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Khadija, Harris, and Ariel Hayes. We also have Mandy Lancaster, who works with way, Point, and Freeman to who is a homeless street outreach and housing stabilization manager for the Bell Nap, Merrimack Community Action program.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): We welcome you, Well.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): This afternoon we’re going to name the problem. Learn what folks who are with us today are doing to improve conditions for people who are homeless, and what other organizations around the State are doing.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Finally, we’re going to discuss solutions, what’s needed, and what folks listening in today can personally do to help with the issue.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And so, with that

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): I am going to turn it over to Mandy to introduce herself and Emily, if you want to just

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): move to the next slide. That would be great.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): There we go.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Hello, everyone! My name is Mandy Lancaster. I’m a senior program manager with Waypoints run away from this youth continuum at this point in my career my primary focus is supporting people and programs throughout our continuum that way point.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and our continuum supports young people between the ages of 12 and 25 that are experiencing some form of homelessness and or housing and stability and multiple geographic regions throughout the State of New Hampshire. So glad I could join you for this chat today.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Are you?

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Thanks, Mandy?

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Hi! My name is Ariel. I use she, her pronouns. I am co-director of the use success project with who’s also here as a presenter, and

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: we

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: briefly what the Youth Success Project is is, we’re a board of young people who have all experienced some form of unaccompanied homelessness while under 25, and on a company just means that we were without a parent or guardian while we were experiencing homelessness.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: and our Board of Young people comes together to make sure that lived. Experience and youth. Voice is a part of decision making in our State around how to end using young adult homelessness, and that when we’re doing that, young people are

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: fully engaged in that process. They have the the support that they need, and the knowledge to really share power with adults at the table, that adults are ready to work with young people and really like value their expertise. And the young people are paid for their time and expertise because they really do value that.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: or they really do deserve that. So, can I just ask you to describe the quote here where that derive from? Yes, so this quote. It was put out by the New Hampshire coalition to end homelessness and their yearly report, but we actually shared it with them from some focus groups that we ran with young people in our state almost exactly a year ago, where we

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: brought together young people from all across the State to just hear about what their experiences were, and what they thought that adults and providers should know about what it’s like to be a young person experiencing homelessness. So, this is a direct quote from one of our focus group participants, and it made it into the New Hampshire Coalition’s Annual report.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: like that passing it on to Kadyja.

Kadyja Harris: Thanks, Aria! Hi! My name is Kadyja Harris. I also you she her pronouns, and I am the co-director of the Youth Success Project with Rl.

Kadyja Harris: today I’m just going to show sharing a little bit of my personal story with you guys later on, throughout the Webinar. So, I hope that provides you guys with a little bit of insight into the work that you all do. So, looking forward to that, Thank you.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And we’ll pass it on to Freeman. Thank you, Kadyja.

Freeman Toth: Hello, everybody. My name is Freeman Tooth, and I manage the Homeless Street Outreach Program and Housing Stabilization Team for the Belknap Merrimack Community Action Program. Our primary function is to work with those experiencing, unsheltered homelessness, meaning people that are living

Freeman Toth: inside vehicles, abandoned buildings, and either have acts, a, a trouble. Accessing resources due to not having shelter or are those types of resources might be inappropriate to shelter, for instance, due to other factors that the client might be living through. We have

Freeman Toth: street outreach teams

Freeman Toth: that cover the city of Manchester. In addition

Freeman Toth: to bring all of Belknap and Merrimack County, our primary focus areas tend to be conquered. Laconia, Franklin, and Manchester.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Thank you, Freeman.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Look forward to hearing more from you.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And with that we’re going to go back to Mandy. I think we can move to the next slide, Mandy, and have you start talking about the work you do.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: great. So, I am going to talk a bit with you all about what waypoint does, and what our what our portion of that work entails, as well as demystify what is used in an adult homelessness. So, from

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: the waypoint perspective, you can. Young adult homelessness aligns with a system perspective through the Family and Services Bureau which is embedded within the Department of Health and Human Services at the Federal level, and we screen young people in. So, there are some definitions that work and define

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: homelessness categorically. Literal homelessness fleeing from abuse.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: imminent homelessness, but from our perspective

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: housing instability and homelessness is in captures young people between the ages of 12 and 25 that Don’t have a steady, and safe place to stay. So, a young person can self-determine around safety.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: We work with young people that are tenting outside, sleeping in cars that are couch surfing, and that also we work with quite a few young people that might be 17, and on their eighteenth birthday. They know that they have a move out date or home feels unsafe. We’ve certainly

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: navigating an interesting time, and which the opioid epidemic continues to turn on. We are maybe still immersed in a global pandemic. And, generally speaking, you know, what I can say is that young people and families are struggling.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and, and ,when there’s economic stress within family systems, sometimes families also need to split up.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: because survival requires them to do that. So, we screen young people in that Waypoint has been working with youth, experiencing homelessness, and the housing instability since the seventies, so I’m. I feel proud to be part of a long legacy of

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: supporting young people. Experiencing risk, Intervention and prevention are are important factors, and we do.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: put a lot of resources into preventing and catching young people at risk of homelessness and experiencing housing and stability, because,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: a primary driving force is to be not only a safe and supportive adult to help catch young people, but to also avoid chronic homelessness. Research indicates that young people that experience homelessness and interface populations that

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: experience chronic, homeless NASA increases their risk exponentially to experience chronic homelessness themselves.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: And I I don’t. I think it’s fair to say that we can do better when we’re talking about youth and young adults experiencing housing and stability. No young adult chooses to be,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: to be homeless. They didn’t ask for that. I’ve

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: I’ve heard some interesting anecdotes over many years to include things like, you know. All I did was turn 18. I didn’t ask for this. Sometimes parents struggle with mental health and substance use. Sometimes young people have their own emerging

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: mental health issues that present, and, and, that’s all very complicated. So, I do have some data and it’s Waypoint data. There’s, there’s

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: there’s valuable data from multiple different sources. I’m going to touch briefly on waypoint data without going too far down the rabbit hole, and also so if we could start with slide one. I’ll start with, with Waypoint data.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So, we have multiple programs throughout our continuum, as is indicated on this first slide and then the, I think this actually might be the second side. Okay, great. So, as I mentioned.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: We provide support to young people between the ages of 12 and 25. Yes, we do support young people that are primarily 14 through 17 in that program, and those young people are generally unaccompanied living with someone that’s not a parent or a guardian.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and, and, as you can see here, this is all data from 2,022 I’m not going to read all of the data sets, but of the 41 young people that are

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: under 18 during 2022, 45% self-reported having mental health concerns and or mental health diagnosis.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: 18- to 24-year-olds during 2022. It’s 59, you know. 59 young people were served in Concord, and the Merrimack County Region.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and then 65 on the seacoast. There’s a larger sample, set, if you will, with 251 young people being served in our outreach programs. If we go to the next slide. I think

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: If we look at the rapid rehousing data we have, we’re at 86 and 80 of young people served in the balance of State and Manchester communities are reporting mental health diagnosis. Mental health concerns

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: the, the disparity between the data sets is not completely unsurprising. The young people that qualify for rapid rehousing

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: programs are those that are most at risk on the streets. So those are young people that have experienced chronic homelessness and have a disabling condition.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: generally. Mental Health is part of that, and those people are most at risk of death and exploitation on the streets, and this project was developed to give those young people a pathway out of homelessness and housing instability.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: You know I could, without analyzing the data too much. I think what I can say.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and you can stop sharing the slides if you will. I’m like. Thank you. Chapin Hall is also a leading researcher on youth, homelessness in the country. If folks aren’t familiar with voices of youth, counting again, that’s through shape and hall, they are the leading resource entity that has been closely following, and researching not only the rate of youth and young adult homelessness in this country, but

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: the complexities that surround to use homelessness the experiences that young people have to navigate while they experience homelessness, the, the risk factors. They put out multiple research policy to briefs that have influenced our work here at way point pretty significantly, and if we’re to hold those numbers of true voices of the account, shape, and hall, they assert that one in 10 young people between the

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: ages of 18 and 25, experience homelessness, and one in 30 for minors to between 12 and 17. So if we’re to hold those numbers true.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and compare it to the census in

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: New Hampshire. We would assert that there’s around 15,000 young people that experience homelessness and housing instability in the state of New Hampshire that’s compelling in and of itself. And at Waypoint, we serve specific geographic regions. I’ve given you some data around some numbers of young people that are engaged in formal case management relationships with waypoint. But we encounter

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: 7100 plus young people in our geographic regions annually, of young people struggling with housing and stability, and I fully expect those numbers to inflate. Given the economic factors that we’re navigating currently.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So that’s a little bit of the issue. I think we could probably spend a complete hour digging into that more. And I know that Ariel and Freeman have some valuable information, as it relates to what this looks like in practice and on the ground. So, I’m going to toggle this over to you.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Thank you, Mandy.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I think that did a really awesome job kind of setting the stage and highlighting some of the like. What youth homelessness looks like. It does look different from adult homelessness in a lot of ways, and something important about me that I missed in my introduction is that before stepping into my role with the success project, I was a case manager and site supervisor at Wait Point for 2 years. So, we do have some direct experience working like in a case management capacity with

young people experiencing home. What says

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I’ve my own brief experience with homelessness, and I’ve learned a lot from the young people that I’ve interacted with in the outreach spaces about some of our needs around. So, with that when I was a case manager at Waypoint, I did work with some young people,

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: who are coming into their first experiences with psychosis while experiencing homelessness which is really scary and

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: And when we think about this population, we’re thinking about a population who often has had a lot of traumas while they were

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: predating their experience with homelessness, which can be triggering for

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: all sorts of mental illness, but also for psychosis and the experience of homelessness itself is really traumatizing. We’re talking about young people who are actively experiencing trauma so that can

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: make that experience with homelessness and getting connected to services, getting supports, getting housing all that much more difficult.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: So

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: there’s a lot of pieces in this, and I hope Freeman can expand on it, but it’s, it’s really hard to get young people connected with the services that they need when they are experiencing that

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: chaotic homelessness. Don’t have a safe and stable place to live. And there’s a lot of pieces of that. Sometimes young people are coming from stable

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: like, home living environments. But when that experience with psychosis first pops up that

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: living environment is no longer an option, because there may be younger kids in the home. There can be so many factors where, like the family, has to work on protecting themselves, they might have housing, but can’t maintain it.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: and then I can talk a little bit more about medication, but I want to get Freeman an opportunity to chip in as well.

Freeman Toth: sure, and Kadyja and thank you, Ariel.

Freeman Toth: Well, you know.

Freeman Toth: I guess I’ll start with some of the basics and, and, kind of to describe a little bit more about what we’re, we’re, doing at our specific cap agency. But you know a couple of the, the, the big findings, the bullet points from

Freeman Toth: the point in time data over the last few years which stands, which is a a federal account that’s done and conducted for all persons staying at shelters and, and, all persons that have no shelter.

Freeman Toth: you know, in 2022 they determined roughly, 582,500 people. We’re experiencing homelessness. That’s a giant number that means 6 and 10 or, or, or 60

Freeman Toth: or roughly 60. We’re staying in sheltered locations, emergency shelters. and, and, what have you

Freeman Toth: and the other 40% on the streets or various situations like abandoned buildings, cars, and and, those types of things.

Freeman Toth: Mental health is

Freeman Toth: almost always to you know everyone else’s points as far as I’m concerned, the chicken that came before the egg.

Freeman Toth: There are lots of economic circumstances and factors that go in like we’re, you know, nationally in a housing crisis all these things equal a perfect storm.

Freeman Toth: But the ability or inability to attain and maintain permanent support of housing or independent housing

Freeman Toth: is monumentally impacted by mental health. I was a homeless college student. My mental health was a huge factor, and it was even more of a factor. Once I was out there

Freeman Toth: so, and, and, directly from the mouth of my participants, You know.

Freeman Toth: by the time I get to deal with someone as a homeless street outreach manager they’ve already fallen about as far as you can fall.

Freeman Toth: so, there’s only one direction to go, and that’s up.

Freeman Toth: So, we help them climb back up to the top of the hill.

Freeman Toth: You know I

Freeman Toth: I’m not somebody who will ever

Freeman Toth: point to finger or shake a stick at my participants and tell them what to do. In fact, that’s

Freeman Toth: one of my I don’t know what else to call it other than a sales pitch. When I’m trying to convince a participant that it will be good for them to work with our team. I start with things like our help is unconditional.

Freeman Toth: Nothing you could possibly tell me is going to cause me not to assist you.

Freeman Toth: You know we put a big focus on being trauma informed, because again, if they’re working with me.

Freeman Toth: life has not been kind.

Freeman Toth: You know we are who works with the folks that are living in tents, cars, abandoned buildings. So.

Freeman Toth: whatever their situation is, it’s important that we help them identify in a client-centered way.

Freeman Toth: What will help them move forward?

Freeman Toth: Because what I think does not matter at all. I’m there to give them advice.

Freeman Toth: and help them keep moving forward.

Freeman Toth: So, with that being said, we provide connections and resources, and we try to bridge the gap for people to make sure,

Freeman Toth: that they don’t exist as invisible.

Freeman Toth: and what I mean by that is what often happens is folks may engage with the New Hampshire 211 service. I have an open-door policy. Our organization does where a regional access point, which means, if you are living in the city of

Freeman Toth: Manchester.

Freeman Toth: or are anywhere living within our residing within, indoors or out Belknap or Merrimack counties 211 would refer you to us.

Freeman Toth: and we will respond. I know it sounds slow, but within a maximum of 3 business days we respond to all those 211 furrows. I have a team of 3 that that does that.

Freeman Toth: we do regularly, and encampment outreach.

Freeman Toth: which means we work with the folks that are living outside in the tent cities, and we frequent places like drop-in centers, soup, kitchens, etc. To make sure that we are in front of those we serve.

Freeman Toth: so that so that they’re not forgotten, and so that they

Freeman Toth: are able to gain access to the resources they identify as being useful. And, and, that’s again I want to harp on that key.

Freeman Toth: The resources the participant identifies that are useful, and they may not know what resource they need.

Freeman Toth: which is, you know, I see our role not much different than that of a salesperson. We exist to recommend things.

Freeman Toth: and to gain agreement where we think it will help a person better themselves or move forward and that’s, that’s, a big part of that. So, you know, I used to have an expression when I ran Sales, teams people buy from people they like, so it’ be likeable.

Freeman Toth: It’s no different. We have to be trauma informed, we have to be likable. We have to connect and discover

Freeman Toth: with each participant, so that we can make a meaningful recommendation.

Freeman Toth: We used to call it earning the right to recommend as

Freeman Toth: people that perform social work, even though I am not a license social worker.

Freeman Toth: We need to be extra hyper aware of what people have gone through. And again, everything should be client-centered that doesn’t mean they’re always going to get,

Freeman Toth: the ideal solution. But it does mean that we’re trying to tailor a solution that is likely to have a positive outcome.

Freeman Toth: What I do.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Yeah. And Freeman, I think that something important that you’re mentioning, or you’re inferring is we don’t even always have a solution. So, so, what a relationship is a significant priority, and, and, we know that that is what is most helpful. Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and a relational approach is, is, foundational, and we also know that young people have unique

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: developmental needs, so their developmental needs to generally posit them somewhere in individuation. So, their help seeking behaviors are maybe steeped in crisis and trauma, or something more typical in which I’m gonna go at this alone. So, if that, then what? I know that there’s a question in the chat that asks if,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: we believe that youth and young adult homelessness is under reported, and I can say unequivocally, yeah. So, the data sets that we have. And I’m

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: slow to share our data at times, because I know that it’s just the tip of the iceberg, and there are countless reasons for that. And I think Kadyja and sharing her own story, can provide an experience which nods to how and why young people are underrepresented in our service delivery systems and our data sets.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Can I sneak something else in there building on something earlier that both Freeman and Mandy you all talked about?

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: There is not a clear pathway out of homelessness for a lot of young people that we’re talking about. The systems work for some people congregate living situations work for some people.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: It’s, we have a very limited number of housing opportunities for a very large number of people, and a lot of these housing opportunities are relying on the person, maybe having a little bit more stability in their life, having external support

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: and being able to like, jump right into the workforce. But especially when we’re talking about young people experiencing psychosis or with severe mental illness. That’s not a realistic app. And then another thing that I want to highlight is the way that

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: geography plays into this, too, because a lot of youth and young adults, especially when we’re thinking about how to be surfing, they’re moving from

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: one area of the State to another to another, just like trying to find a place to be inside and safe, ideally safe, not always for as long as possible. And when we think about how community mental health centers which are really the hub for mental health care, especially when we’re talking about serious mental illness are structured. They’re

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: by county generally, or by geographical area, and as soon as a person moves out of a geographical area, they lose care and

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: they have to start this process over again. So, when I’m thinking about the community mental health areas in my part of the State. And I think this is true everywhere. It’s months before they can get

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: here, and then, if they move because they don’t have another option, they’ve outstayed their welcome at the place that they’re saying it becomes unsafe. They’re starting that way all over again, so that makes it really tough to manage

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: mental health, and it makes it really tough to manage medication, too, because also with serious mental illness. We’re talking about some strong medications at times that a PCP. Is not willing to prescribe.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: So, there’s a lot of structural challenges there, too, where the system is just not built to serve young people experiencing this level of instability and needing this level of care. So, with that I’m. Passing it off to Kadyja. Thanks for letting me engage.

Kadyja Harris: Thank you. Are you?

Kadyja Harris: Yeah. So, I’m just going to share a little bit about my personal experiences with mental health and being homeless as 18. Mental illness is something that,

Kadyja Harris: I became very,

Kadyja Harris: much like my family was. They struggled with mental illnesses, their whole lives, and I was exposed to that as a kid as young as I can remember. It’s been something that was very consistent in my family, and a lot of their mental illnesses were undiagnosed.

Kadyja Harris: We could tell that there was something wrong, but a lot of my family didn’t want to face the facts and become and do what they had to do to get the help that they needed. So, my mother, she struggled with bipolar disorder.

Kadyja Harris: Among other things, but that was the number. One factor that I could see had a, a, really big grip on her, a stronghold on her, and my uncle also struggled with bipolar disorder. And then there was a lot of like anxiety and depression.

Kadyja Harris: My father, He was very like, emotionally unavailable growing up, and he was an alcoholic. There was also substance abuse in the home. My mother was a heroin IV user and she passed away in 2018 because of it.

Kadyja Harris: But now so, I I’ve learned a lot of things in my life when it comes to mental illnesses. I am now a mother, and I take it very seriously.

Kadyja Harris: I did end up getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder back in September of 2,020. But I’m doing things a lot differently than my parents, especially being a mother. It makes you realize

Kadyja Harris: how to take care yourself, you know, growing up and seeing those things. You know you don’t want that to be projected on your children. So, you take it very seriously. I am medicated today.

Kadyja Harris: and I do go to a support group religiously and therapy. I do a lot of things that I didn’t get the opportunity to really do growing up. You know, when you’re a minor, and your parents are in charge of everything that you do when it comes to therapy and medications and stuff

Kadyja Harris: I was on and off medication my whole life, and it was never consistent, because my parents just didn’t take it seriously.

Kadyja Harris: I struggled with anxiety for a very, very long time; had very bad panic attacks growing up.

Kadyja Harris: and it wasn’t until I became of age, that I could go to the doctors myself and be like this is the problem.

Kadyja Harris: What can we do to fix it or to, to, help me a little bit, and I’ve been

Kadyja Harris: I’m going to be 28 this year, and I’ve

Kadyja Harris: been great ever since, like ever since I started taking medication the right ways talking to my doctors, you know, being mindful of how my illnesses affect my family and other people in my life. You know it’s been. It’s been a journey for sure.

Kadyja Harris: So, I did like, I said before, I did experience,

Kadyja Harris: homelessness when I was younger. So, my parent’s long story short, there was a lot of details in between the story. But long story short, my parents ended up. Both of my parents ended up getting arrested. DC. Why, I’ve got involved, but didn’t do much. They basically said they had to build a history before anything could have been done.

Kadyja Harris: At the age of 17 I decided to. Once they got arrested, and we were like literally home by ourselves. I decided to take matters into my own hands and

Kadyja Harris: go live with my other sister, who was older, and bring my other sister. Who was She’s disabled? She has a learning disability, so she can’t really be by herself.

Kadyja Harris: she decided. I decided to take my sister and bring her to my grandmother’s house, where I knew she’d be able to get the care that she needed, because I couldn’t provide it to her myself.

Kadyja Harris: and from doing that I decided that, like the only I couldn’t stay there because there just wasn’t enough room for me, and I didn’t have a good relationship with my family at the time, so it just wouldn’t have been a good situation all, and also I. I was homeless, and that was at the age of 17, and

Kadyja Harris: it was hard because no one would rent out any place to me because I was. I was a kid. I was. I was 17 years old, and in the State of New Hampshire you have to be 18 in order to have your first department, and so I was couch surfing, bouncing around from place to place for a good year.

Kadyja Harris: There were a couple of rooming houses that did take me in, but they were. There was so much drug activity it just wasn’t a safe environment

Kadyja Harris: for me to live in.

Kadyja Harris: So, I did utilize that whenever I could for a little bit of time. But then, if it got too bad, I just go sleep in my car or something.

Kadyja Harris: There was a friend from High. I have a friend from high School. Her mom did take me in a couple of times, but I did realize that after a while, being undiagnosed with all these mental illnesses, mental health conditions. It was ruining and tarnishing the relationship that I had with her.

Kadyja Harris: and that was more important to me. So, I decided to just end that, like cause she would always take me in, and I was like no like. I value our relationship too much like I can. I can go out on my own and, and, and be okay. So that’s what I ended up doing. And then.

Kadyja Harris: when I was

Kadyja Harris: this 18 or 19, one of the 2.

Kadyja Harris: I utilized services from Waypoint, and I did go to their transitional living program.

Kadyja Harris: and I was there for a good year and a half. I am a success story, from then I was able to accomplish a lot of things. I was in school. I was in college. I was going to college online. I ended up getting my associate degree in addiction counseling because I really wanted to learn

Kadyja Harris: all the things addiction, because it ran in my family, and I was so young at the time when I was exposed to, I wasn’t really knowledgeable of it, and I also wanted to have

Kadyja Harris: a relationship with my mother, and the only way I could have a relationship with her is if I took the time to really learn and study and understand what addiction was, and how it affects the brain. So, I went to school for it, and then I made a career out of it. I was able to

Kadyja Harris: be on good terms with my mother before she passed away, which was the most important thing to me.

Kadyja Harris: But I ended up

Kadyja Harris: graduating from my associate degree while I was in the transitional living program I was able to go to an internship. I was able to work. I was able to save money and just really focused on the things I needed to do to get my life back in order.

Kadyja Harris: Which was I? I wouldn’t ask for anything more like that was just. It was so important for me to have, like a bed of my own, like a place of my own. I was a little resistant to going into it, because if you once you’ve been on your own for so long, the last thing you want to do is share space with other people. You don’t know

Kadyja Harris: rules follow rules. I didn’t want to follow any rules. So that was a change. But my roommates were wonderful, wonderful people. We still get along and talk to each other till this day the transitional living program really changed all of our lives, especially mine.

Kadyja Harris: So, when I had my daughter, you know, I moved into this house that I’m in right now. I’ve been here for 5 years, and that’s the longest. I had a place of my own is that I never could have said that I was bouncing around from place to place for so long. I didn’t have

Kadyja Harris: a place to really call my own, and it took me 3 years to really decorate and make it my own, because I thought I was gonna go somewhere. I was like, I’m not gonna stay here long, so I don’t need to decorate and make it my own, but

Kadyja Harris: I just bought a couch that I’ve been wanting for a while a new couch, and I was like, you know what I deserve. This couch. I’m going to get this couch, and I got the couch so, and it’s little things like that that make a difference.

Kadyja Harris: And I’m very mindful of how I how I act around my daughter. I’m very mindful of the things that she’s exposed to. I’m just.

Kadyja Harris: I’m very cautious in that sense, and I, I, watch her, too, just to see, because I know bipolar disorder can be passed down genetically, and I, I, watch for signs and signals through her. She’s 4, so she’s still kind of young. I didn’t start showing symptoms until I was in my teens like 15-16. I don’t really know the just

Kadyja Harris: statistics around that. But how early and young you can see it, but I do watch out for her, and you know I hold myself accountable for my actions When I do have slip ups, you know. The one thing about me is that it, it, showed a lot through anger and aggression, because my parents were very angry and aggressive.

Kadyja Harris: and it took me until I was like 21-22 to see. Like to learn that like that is not how you’re supposed to act, and that’s not how you’re supposed to present yourself, and you’re supposed to talk about your problems and hold yourself accountable when you make mistakes.

Kadyja Harris: So, when I do have slip ups, you know parenting it, it can be rough.

Kadyja Harris: I do apologize to her, and I make her, you know I talk to her about what was wrong, and you know. But I’m still learning.

Kadyja Harris: and it’s, it’s, just a journey altogether.

Kadyja Harris: but I think that’s all I got.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): It’s amazing. Lots of hearts going up for your story, and I

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): I think about we were talking about breaking the cycle right? So, if you grow up with parents who are unstable, who are on house, then those kids can end up being unhoused. It goes on and on.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): and your story is so important for showing us how that pattern gets broken.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And so I’d like to turn back to your colleagues, and find out if they have anything they want to share or add.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): They all know your story, but hearing it again, what they might want our viewers to know in here.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So, I think here your own success story, and there you’ve

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: done so much, and something that I’m gleaming, and I think, I have takeaways each time I hear you speak is that

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: young adults need options that are developmentally appropriate, because, under the best circumstances, young people make mistakes, and they need safe spaces and multiple pathways out of homelessness and towards recovery and treatment and care when they’re grappling with both mental health factors and homelessness, to

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: to be in safe relationship with programs and people and spaces that are safe and, allow for mistakes and welcome them as opportunities for, for, growth and learning. So I, I, see a question in the chat. If

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: you know we had a magic wand, and it could, you know Alyssa extra funding to help support and alleviate you. Think about homelessness

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: I know Ari and Kadyja can really speak to this. There is money like, like, additional funding coming into the State through by HDP. Funding. We know that that’s not enough. They are improved. There have been improvements in our system of care. There still exist incredible gaps

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and unequivocally. We need multiple options, so that when a young person experiences housing and stability and homelessness, there are options for them that best meet their needs, so that their experience with homelessness is not

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: as brief and pre-occurring, and provides the support that meets their need so I don’t know Arial and Khadija if you would say more about that freemen.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I wanted to highlight one other thing from what could user shared to and, we’ve talked about this before Mandy but, actually what you shared to Freeman. But this hustle of like when you approach a young person experiencing homelessness like

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: they are not. They’ve had a lot of negative experiences in a lot of situations with service providers. Someone in the chat

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: about DCYFs involvement and off the top of my head. I think it’s about 30% of young people experiencing homelessness. 33% have had some, sort, of seek If involvement and

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: there’s a lot of Sometimes there’s a lot of autonomy that isn’t present in that space. Young people don’t like feel like they have control over their lives or their situation, because they usually didn’t. So, there’s a lot of

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: rebuilding that trust and healing, and consistently showing up for young people like Kadyja wasn’t immediately like Yes, TLP: I’m going to go there, and I’m going to be successful, and this is going to work for me. It took consistent relationship building

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: and showing up, even when the young person says to us, off or like, whatever it is, consistently showing that you’re a safe person who isn’t trying to get anything from them because a lot of people haven’t had those positive

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: in relationships. Yeah.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Kadyja, where you’re going to say something off that.

Kadyja Harris: Yeah, I was just gonna say my one thing I didn’t share was the case manager that I had while in the transition living program. We’re still friends to this day, but that girl is persistent like. For 2 years I turned down, going to, to, the transition living program, and every time she saw me, she made she see she saw me like she’s seen me for who I was. She knew that I was going to be successful, and she knew that this is exactly what I needed to be successful, and

Kadyja Harris: once I took advantage of it like. I just

Kadyja Harris: went off like it was. It was the greatest experience like I couldn’t have asked for a better experience or a better case manager to have

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): persistence. So, relationships, building relationships, safety, caring persistence.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: And why would a young person trust someone that they just met like we have to earn trust

Freeman Toth: Freeman? Were you gonna see something on that

Freeman Toth: in order to approach someone, it can be done a few ways, you know. You can establish common ground, you know. There’s more than one way to gain agreement. But to, to, answer, I kinda just want to loop back to the question that Mandy had started with in the

Freeman Toth: in the Q&A Because I saw that one as well, and I, I, guess I would take a slightly different spin on it and say that there is no one.

Freeman Toth: and that organizations like ours don’t necessarily get to ask per say for what they want. They’re told what’s available, and then have to scramble to see if they can get to the trough in time.

Freeman Toth: and if HUD will see fit to bestow these resources upon us, we’re talking, Grant turnaround times of one to 2 weeks. Sometimes we are hit with

Freeman Toth: these are not grant turnaround times to buy new desks. These are grants, so that we can continue to exist.

Freeman Toth: So, I guess if I were to ask for one thing, it would be that the services that we are collaboratively, you know, as, as, as, a group of service providers should not have to beg for their existence. Caps are kind of odd, and this is gonna seem like a tangent.

Freeman Toth: But Community Action program. Partnership is a nationwide partnership.

Freeman Toth: We were formed in 1,964 by Lyndon B. Johnson, when he declared a war on poverty.

Freeman Toth: So, we fight poverty in all its forms. When people ask me what I think about homelessness, I say it’s a symptom of poverty.

Freeman Toth: What we are seeing right now societally, whether it be youth, individuals, or other individuals, because I don’t care if you’re 24, 42 or 82, if you had to sleep in your vehicle last night or in a tent that’s unacceptable.

Freeman Toth: So again, we need to stop telling people what to do, and asking them what they need

Freeman Toth: help must be unconditional.

Freeman Toth: The communities it’s not just a Federal solution. The communities themselves

Freeman Toth: need to provide direct concrete resources, you know. I’ll give you an example, I, with the exception of very recent turn of events, cannot think of a city

Freeman Toth: that

Freeman Toth: owns and operates a shelter.

Freeman Toth: you know, and, and, these things are starting to happen very recently in some communities throughout the State, but usually organizations like I’ll throw out, our, our brother or sister organization, whichever you like to refer to it CAP, Tri County community action.

Freeman Toth: They’ve run shelters in the past, my good friends, over at the Concord Coalition to end homelessness, run a cold weather shelter.

Freeman Toth: The Salvation Army offers shelter solutions. But very few of these shelters are owned or operated by the State or the communities themselves. And that’s, that’s, truly a piece of ownership that we need to see approached, because it can’t just be third party charities and organizations CAPS are in a very

Freeman Toth: odd position because we’re federally mandated to exist. But we’re not part of the government.

Freeman Toth: So, you know, we enjoy very few of the privileges of being a government organization, but all of the drawbacks of being a third-party charity, because again we fight for every red scent that we use to assist.

Freeman Toth: So, I hope that kind of,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: of kind of looped back in

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: that are in the work and operating shelters. There are State DHHS systems that are contributing to run away and homeless youth work. And to your point, freemen.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: when the funding is available from a youth and young adult perspective, Federal funding state funding we’re, trying to make it developmentally appropriate.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Right, and offer the support that meet the need. and, and, we are

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: wrestling for scant resources and competing against one another. And so, we have this situation where a youth provider could be competing with another youth provider for a limited resource.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So, it’s a tough situation for sure, and there are models of care,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and good examples from some of our folks doing similar work in neighboring states.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and I am encouraged by what is coming out of the Why HDP work. We use hydro demonstration projects.

Freeman Toth: We’ve seen a lot of really unique and, and, forward thinking, especially out of that project. We’ve got some, you know. You take this as a compliment, some young blood, you know, relating the torch, if it will, you know, and, and, I guess you know my last point to the, the, no one’s comment would be that

Freeman Toth: help really has to be unconditional. I have to keep going back to that. You know whether it is because I know this is largely about mental health, and how it intersects with what we do.

Freeman Toth: People who go into treatment for substance misuse are going to have emotional outbursts. People that are youth experiencing homelessness are going to do things like break windows. They are going to do things like, tell their case manager to drop dead, or you know

Freeman Toth: ah, You know, maybe, that, that, that, finger that’s in the middle of your hand might get, you know, floated around, and, and, there are lots of emotional events that people who are experiencing these very extreme hardships go through, and we just need to ensure that

Freeman Toth: there is never an exit to the street. That would be the one thing if I had to beg for with. There should always be a downstream option. Exit to a street, whether they’re coming from a hospital, a TLP which means transitional living program, a standardized department.

Freeman Toth: or even from you know, the, the, couch shopping situation. Because yes, youth, homelessness is especially under reported because they’re able to cultivate sympathy.

Freeman Toth: a lot easier. Then maybe, you know the middle aged population, you know that 25 to let’s say

Freeman Toth: 59 age bracket people that are classified as elderly our youth are much easier able to cultivate sympathy, with whether it be a welfare officer or a person to let them have a warm place to stay. But I would also say that that also puts especially youths at extreme risk,

Freeman Toth: when they’re car shopping, because again.

Freeman Toth: people are often taken advantage of for simple things like a place to stay.

Freeman Toth: So, the help has to be unconditional, unconditional, and we can never exit people to the street, because if we do, the trauma will become insurmountable.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: and young people often don’t have the same. This is their first-time experiencing homelessness, and they don’t have the same survival skills built up that maybe folks experiencing chronic homelessness or older folks might have.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Michelle, were you gonna

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): I, I want to loop back to Freeman saying that homelessness is a symptom of poverty.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And so, when I think of poverty, I think of financial resources.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): but as a mother who has 2 sons who experienced early serious mental illness.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): they ended up homeless, and it was a poverty of resources, right and a poverty of education. I didn’t know what to do with them. I didn’t have support. We were desperate. We were concerned that the whole family was going to go down. If we didn’t get them away from the

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): the, the, home situation. And it was a

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): a tough love sort of

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): attempt as well right. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know where to go, so I think and,

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): when we were just, we met before this Webinar last week, and I was saying to Mandy, I was a mother who made that choice to push my children into homelessness.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Here come tears, one of the toughest choices I’ve ever made my life right, could be the toughest,

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): and just

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): understanding that side of it, It, Isn’t always parents who can’t.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): who are having their own mental health issues, and just can’t take care of their kids. They didn’t know where to go.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and I think a message that I have for providers, and one that I’ve I shared with you, Michelle. I think it’s too easy to pass judgment on parents, and that when a young person is in acute crisis,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and grappling with pretty significant symptoms related to mental health. There are often safety concerns, or there can be, and it would be too easy to shame the parents, and that they are deserving of our grace and kindness and compassion as well. And when we do that there creates an opportunity for some sort of support from

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: the family system as they can, and like what’s safe and appropriate to provide support to the young person, even if they’re not in the home.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So, I You know your story is like many stories, and and really, I know that we can collectively point to a few together, in which

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: there. Isn’t a solution so education and resources may have shortened or changed the relationship to housing, instability, or homelessness for your children, but it it may not have avoided it, because there aren’t multiple pathways.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and that that’s really unfortunate.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Yeah, Read.

Freeman Toth: Okay. I was hoping to chime in on a question I saw in the chat here because I’m feeling pretty passionate about it. This is

Freeman Toth: a person that said they were homeless at 20,

Freeman Toth: which resonates a little bit. They’re basically, asking, how can they help to get more targeted assistance?

Freeman Toth: I guess I would say, continue being you continue being kind, you know we all know the person that Dunks, who serves as coffee every morning, or at least I hope you do. You know their name? Because you see them every day

Freeman Toth: when you see a person who is clearly on sheltered, experiencing homelessness. Obviously I,

Freeman Toth: to the extent you feel safe communicating. I, I, would say that you know.

Freeman Toth: I’ve been out in the woods for 4 years, working with people, since oh more than since 2019,

Freeman Toth: and

Freeman Toth: very rarely have I ever felt unsafe with my participants. I never encourage anybody who isn’t outreach to ever do outreach you should not. You should leave that to us because it only takes one of you getting hurt for all of us not to be able to do our jobs anymore.

Freeman Toth: But that being said, keep being kind, learn these folks names when they ask for resources of

Freeman Toth: you know of a hard need, variety, whether it be a couple of dollars, or whatever you make your own determination as as to whether you feel comfortable with that. I’m never the person that’s going to tell you not to give them $5.

Freeman Toth: But I would tell you you kind of hit the nail on the head with getting them connected with things like 211 for more targeted assistance. I know the feedback of my participants

Freeman Toth: Is, is not always positive when it comes to things like 211, but they’re an amazing service. It’s 12 individuals. Last I checked, taking all the 211 calls for the entire state. That’s whether it was a Covid call or

Freeman Toth: a, a, call about substance, misuse, or a call about experiencing homelessness, or even connecting to the Vita tax sites the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance service that we host here at CAP in in in partnership with Granted UV. But

Freeman Toth: you know the the fact of the matter is is

Freeman Toth: helping them connect with resources and providing information. But most importantly, you can have an indirect impact, and I think all of us can when we hear someone say the words, Homelessness is a choice, or you hear someone say they’re just survivalists.

Freeman Toth: Tell them. They’re wrong. It’s like when you’ve got the racist, uncle. You can’t just be like. Oh, that’s just Uncle Billy Bob. I actually do have a relative name Billy Bob, you know.

Freeman Toth: and you know. But, the, the, thing is is, you have to tell them they’re wrong. You have to tell them it’s not a choice. You have to tell them there’s a barrage of resources that are are barriers. Rather they get in the way in between you and those resources. Something as simple as the fact that you have to

Freeman Toth: fight with the free phone people to get those things turned on and keep them on. Your things are constantly getting wet, and everything you own, and love is getting washed away with the weather. New England is one of the most unforgiving climates in the country.

Freeman Toth: You know there are so many barriers, there is often no shelter, despite what they would have us believe, even though new shelters are being opening opened. But even if they did have space, they may not be appropriate. If the person that raped you was staying at the shelter, would you go?

Freeman Toth: The answer is most certainly not. If you are 3 weeks sober, and you are just clinging on to things. Would you go to a place where people were still in active use, Howl at the moon? So, to speak, you would not.

Freeman Toth: because you are clinging to your newly found sobriety, so I would say, be the voice of reason. Be educated on the facts of homelessness, and educate your peers,

Freeman Toth: because you don’t have to have a direct an impact on on those people living in the encampment near you. You can simply better support the people working with them in the community by educating your fellow community members and showing up at zoning and planning meetings, etc.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Also, something that I hear a lot is reference to the Welfare law in New Hampshire as

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: kind of like this? Oh, well, they have options. It’s like the same. End be all.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: This,The city is required to provide an option for a person experiencing housing and stability or homelessness. But that’s not always a realistic option, for a lot of folks welfare can be really helpful when we’re talking about families, or like

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: preventing homelessness before it occurs, but a lot of times when single people or couples go in to get assistance. The conversation then becomes where is a shelter bed open in the State, and that can be across the State. It’s usually across the State. It can mean splitting up a couple who, like that is all the only trusted safe person in their life. At that point It means sending them away from all their support networks all their community.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: So, just because I’m experiencing homelessness in Dover, New Hampshire. And there’s a shelter bed in Manchester. It does not mean that that is a realistic option for me that can make it a lot less safe for me.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: So, welfare has an important role, and they can be helpful. But this is oftentimes not a helpful option for people who don’t have kids.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Sometimes they can pay for a hotel and do a little bit more when there’s kids involved, but they generally won’t do that for couples and single adults.

Freeman Toth: Well and just. I hate to pipe in again, and I’m so sorry. But I work with so many welfare offers throughout the State, and there’s so many exceptional ones, something I just feel like folks have to know most welfare officers are part time.

Freeman Toth: you know, a lot of cases, in especially the smaller communities. It’s someone who’s only at work to maybe 3 days a week. If you’re lucky or they’re just on call, and are not in the office regularly at all.

Freeman Toth: You know, when you’re lucky enough to be in an epicenter of civilization, you know a a Portsmouth, the Dover, or a, a, Manchester, a Nashua, a Concord, you know, or, or, of the like. You know you’re going to get

Freeman Toth: a very skilled welfare officer, and all the other ones are, are usually very caring. But again, each town has different guidelines. What a person may be eligible for in one community is completely different in another community

Freeman Toth: most States across the nation welfare is handled at a county or state level. New Hampshire is one of the only States in the contiguous United States that allows, and I stress allows welfare to be handled by the city itself, and it is not level funded.

Freeman Toth: So, you know, one city may have less money to deal with that problem than another city, just like we often think about with education. When we think about our children. It’s a very similar situation, and it creates a lot of barriers Again,

Freeman Toth: if every resource you knew, if

Freeman Toth: the fact that you know how to walk from one side of town to the other if you lived out in Portsmouth. But you have no clue how to navigate Manchester. That gets very dangerous, not just scary, but it gets dangerous, because you don’t know where not to go.

Freeman Toth: so, I really have to to bolster Ariel’s comments with the it’s not a good idea to ship a person wherever that is.

Freeman Toth: We need to make sure that there are enough heads per capita.

Freeman Toth: and, they are developmentally appropriate. The other thing is, if you had a pet, would you leave it?

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I was in my car with my dog because there was not a shelter or a place for me to go to.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: There is no place for people with animals period.

Freeman Toth: and it does not matter if it’s a service animal. And ESA letter is might as well be, forgive the expression but toilet paper. Because

Freeman Toth: people don’t want to deal with the animal I get it. It presents a lot of concerns for a shelter. If I was running a shelter. I wouldn’t want to deal with a participant with an animal, but it doesn’t change the

Freeman Toth: correct, you know, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a challenge, and we need to present a solution for it again, less telling the clients what to do and more asking them what they need

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): that this is a good segue into the question about how do you work with community mental health centers for transient youth who need the consistency and care. Is there any collaboration with community? What does that look like?

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Yeah. So, I have a few anecdotes to share? So, this isn’t necessarily formalized relationships and agreements that are happening in the Sea Coast Tri City region.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: But there are things happening that are extremely helpful. So, if there are any participants that work in a mental health center. I would encourage you to check in with your leadership and administration and see if there is room to

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: work in this way. So young people experiencing a cute to mental

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: health issues is struggling with homelessness.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Scheduling appointments is difficult for a myriad of reasons. If you have a phone which is unlikely, you know, trying to connect to a provider, leave a message, call back so I could go on and on about how difficult that can be

So, We have 2 informal agreements with mental health centers over here, in which

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: staff have agreed to schedule and take appointments with Waypoint staff.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So, we’re cutting out the need for the young person to make the phone call, receive the call back schedule the appointment. This is all happening by in from the young people. We’re not doing anything without their express consent and permission, and we’re scheduling those intake appointments. Some centers require a person to wake up at 8’clock in the morning to call for an intake.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and if there are no intakes available, you have to try again at 8’clock the next day, when intake appointments are being scheduled, and that does not work for young people experiencing homelessness and struggling with mental health issues. That agreement in and of itself

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: extends an olive branch

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: to so many young people that otherwise would not connect, allow us to figure out the logistics and the transportation, just the agreement and the willingness to collaborate with providers and skip a few hoops is

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: quite impactful. I’ve also

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: seen and worked with staff in emergency departments and other

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: institutions in which they’ve refused to discharge a person into literal homelessness until there is an appropriate plan of care, and that can also be hugely impactful and helpful. It takes a lot for a young person to get to an emergency room, to commit, to staying, to entering into treatment. But to exit out into literal homelessness is like asking the young person to start all over again.


Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: professionals in the community helper professionals that are willing to coordinate and collaborate with us, so that we can partner with the young person partner with staff in that health center to develop a plan that’s safe and supportive. I’ve seen that change lives.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and I’m not that. That’s not her hyperbole, you know. So, it is, It’s a huge benefit, so,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: that so, without changing radically changing systems, those are ways that people can humanize this issue and maybe go just the extra staff

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: and picking up the phone and connecting with a provider to support young people.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: That’s my soap box. Yeah, yeah, it was yeah.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): couple of things I want to make sure we touch on because we are coming close to time. I knew we’d run out. We all knew we’d run out.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): One of them is LBGTQI plus population.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): so, could you speak to whether or not those who are in that community are facing increased risk of becoming housing, insecure, and or any specific resources to support these folks. It’s a great question.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Yeah. I can start out, and then I know Mandy has things to say about this, too. LGBTIQ. Youth are at a higher risk of homelessness compared to their straight cisgender peers. I’m not.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: Mandy was talking about the trap and hill data earlier, and that is one of the major areas that they highlight. I believe it’s.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I don’t know off the top of my head, but I want to say it’s about 150% higher risk of homelessness. And Another piece of that is that

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: once you think young adults who are LGBTIQ are experiencing homelessness, they tend to be at a higher vulnerability or a higher risk as well. They’re more likely to face dangers like. Be in

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: dangerous living situations, face, assault, sexual assault

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: can’t remember all of them off the top of my head. But there’s both higher risk, and there’s higher vulnerability. Once experiencing homelessness.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: you want to go, Mandy.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: So LGBTIQ plus youth, are absolutely overrepresented in homeless service systems and our to Arial’s point it experience some sort of physical harm and homelessness, so assaults occurring while home month, so it can be a very dangerous situation. At way point we

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: go to great lengths to integrate a perspective into the work that is LGBTIQ plus affirming some ways in which we do that is, we affirm, a young person’s identity, and we don’t make assumptions, and we

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: in our TlP homes. For example, we

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: ask them how they identify and and then put them where they belong, and that is, you know we still operate in a binary way in our TlP homes. But if a person is saying that they feel more comfortable on one side of the home or another. We allow them to choose, and we are slowly moving more towards something that is gender, inclusive, and moving away from the binary.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: add our transitional living programs. We operate that way in our emergency shelter in Manchester, and then just

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: how we show up in the space it’s about not making assumptions, being person-centered, asking permission being curious, we have lots of visual queues through all of our office space that

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: show LGBTIQ plus pride, indicate that we support BYPOC youth who are also over represented in Homer Service delivery systems, and we have queer staff, and that’s something that we generally share pretty openly with young people, because there’s so much stigma around it. And so, our our hope is to live openly and freely, so that

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: other young people can feel safe and secure in our programs. And then we coordinate with other LGBTIQ plus service systems to one as as needed health systems and pro social and peer groups,

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: so, that we can.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: you know, make those referrals and build relationships and safety between entities. So,

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And the question is our transgender youth more at risk of harm and housing job discrimination, and yes, absolutely. That is for sure.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): We’ve, we’re, coming to the end here. We’ve just a few minutes, and I do want to talk about hope and what people can do when you you all have touched on that

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): during our time together. But people want to walk away from here, being able to take a step and know what they should be supporting around the State, so Can we just go through the 4 of you, and have you each

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): give folks ideas, and and I know, Freeman, you did already talk on that. But how are we going to leave folks with Hope here?

Freeman Toth: All right.

Freeman Toth: I, I, I, cannot bolster Mandy’s last point, LGBTIQ, especially Trans kids are at way more risk for harm out there.

Freeman Toth: You wouldn’t believe the stuff they experience.

Freeman Toth: So, with that being said, you know, check out who the basic organizations are. You’ve seen some of us today. But your research.

Freeman Toth: you know, Google, us figure out who’s actually doing work with participants out in the field and who has just got a business card. There’s a lot of that out there, you know.

Freeman Toth: There are many, many programs, but I, I, I guess what I would say is, you know, reach out to us. We’re all happy to I, I, I’m happy speaking for myself, but I see some nods. We’re all happy

Freeman Toth: to do participant education, community Member education. If, If somebody wants to have a cup of tea with me, provided schedule allows, I will do that because it’s all about educating community members, because they are the ones that will help us turn the tide.

Freeman Toth: So, please reach out to us directly to become directly informed. I guess, is the message I would leave you with, and shamelessly I would say a App street outreach on Facebook. Check out the Wish list. You know we,

Freeman Toth: that we’ve had people reach out to us and say, hey, I bought all this stuff, and I really want to help you. And I would say that’s really cool.

Freeman Toth: But if you’re gonna buy stuff, buy it from our wish list because it ensures equity, everybody should be treated the same and be given the same opportunity. And to me that comes right down to ensuring that the blanket they receive is safe and won’t. Catch on fire.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I want to make a plug here or use my time to really talk about how important youth, voice, and lived experience is in this. And

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: I say youth voice, because that’s what they use. Success project does, but really making sure that people with lived experience of every age, at every experience with homelessness do have an actual say in the work that’s being done. Mandy Freeman. Both reference. Why, Http. Earlier? They use homelessness demonstration program grant which takes a little bit to explain. So I won’t jump into that right now. But

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: this project has really required using young adults from the success project to be involved in every stage of developing a plan to end youth homeless as we’ve reviewed job descriptions for new programs funded through this Grant Interviewed applicants work training applicants so really making sure that we’re

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: in

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: using young adults who get this, who know what’s going to work. You know what’s not going to work are involved in every step of the process on a big macro level, but also in talking to individual programs about how they work with young people, approach substance, use, build relationships.

Ariel Hayes (She/Her), Youth Success Project: because, using an adult like we don’t. We didn’t choose to experience homelessness, which was already said, but, like we really are the experts in it. We’ve lived it. We’ve been on that side, and we have to be a part of the decision making.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Thank you, Ariel

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Kadyja or Mandy.

Kadyja Harris: I can go. I don’t know, I, I, sat on this a little this question a little bit, which is kind of odd to me, because, like there’s been a lot of times in my life where I felt hopeless, so I figured this would be a easier to identify. But I don’t know just for me, going off of like

Kadyja Harris: going back a little bit to like when I was sharing my story like there was a lot of

Kadyja Harris: key factors in my story that really helped me get out of homelessness, and I think that, like being a person of color and living in New Hampshire, which is a predominantly white state.

Kadyja Harris: I needed that support, that extra support from like my service providers that I worked with.

Kadyja Harris: So, if you are a service provider here, and you do deal with people who are people of color, they’re the bypop community like it’s really important to check it on them. And just see how they’re doing, how they’re feeling what you can do to make them feel better if something’s going wrong. I didn’t speak up enough

Kadyja Harris: with my experience, but because I was very angry. But if I had somebody who would have came to me and been like, how are you like? Do you really? How are you doing? That would have made all the difference in the world.

Kadyja Harris: So, I want to speak to my community for this question a little bit, and just

Kadyja Harris: yeah, make that be known.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Thank you, Kadyja

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Andy. Final words

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: Final words. Consider your spheres of influence. Consider your interest in your resources, and how you can leverage those which are different for all of us, and at the end of the day. Reflect on how can you be a safe and supportive adult for young people in your community that might be struggling with homelessness and mental health symptoms. One adult can change the trajectory of a young person’s life. I mean that’s no.

Mandy Lancaster (She/Her), Waypoint: you know that’s that’s true. It holds true in the research. So just to bring a human element to this. Be kind and be generous.

and all the ways that you can.

Oh, beautiful!

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): With that I would like to Thank you all so very much for being with us this afternoon Panel, who joined us, and also the attendees.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Please take a moment to fill out the evaluation form. There is the link in the chat. After you fill it out you will get a certificate of attendance. Just a reminder. A recording of today’s discussion will be posted on the education page of Onward nh.org.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): And you’re gonna get an email in the next couple of days which has a link for the website and the evaluation

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): for any comments. Please reach out to me.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): Email addresses did go into the chat. I hope my panelists are okay with that, and we do look forward to seeing folks who can join us next month. We’re going to get an update on New Hampshire’s rapid response access point 988.

Michelle Wagner, NAMI NH (She/Her): So until then, thank you once again to our wonderful panel, and be well. Take care.

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