[Hpn] Lancaster NH has taken homeless shelter to court to close it

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Fri, 17 Jun 2005 23:03:22 -0400


Lancaster Going To Court To Close Homeless Shelter


Saturday June 18, 2005


Lancaster has taken a local homeless shelter to court to close it.

Town attorney Paul Desjardins filed papers in Coos Superior Court Friday
against Tri-County CAP to permanently close the Lynsey House homeless
shelter, according to court documents.

If the court will not close the shelter on Prospect Street, the town asked
the court to issue a ruling setting out the obligations the shelter owes to
Lancaster and what rules it must follow.

While the town has sought the closing of the shelter since January, this is
the first court action on the matter.

In late January the selectmen sent a letter to Tri-County CAP, requesting
the shelter be closed due to numerous problems over the years, especially
the lack of adequate staffing on site. An incident from earlier that month
was mentioned when Lancaster Police were called to the shelter on a 911 call
and discovered it was not being staffed 24 hours a day.

The town has remained determined to close the shelter ever since. In several
selectmen's meetings during the intervening months the selectmen have told
opponents and supporters of the shelter that they were going to continue to
pursue legal action.

The town's petition to the court states that the shelter violated its
previous agreement with the town to have no more than eight people in the
shelter at a time. The shelter is meant to be a short-term shelter, with
stays of no more than 10 to 12 days, but the average stay of residents is 23
days, the petition alleges.

Another issue is the origin of residents in the shelter. In the previous
agreement, the petition alleges, Tri-County CAP agreed to only accept
residents from Lancaster and the surrounding communities. Instead, the
shelter is accepting residents from southern New Hampshire or from outside
the state.

Town Manager Joyce McGee said that since the issue is now in court she could
not comment on the matter.

Tri-County CAP program director Philip Guiser said that Lancaster's action
was not unexpected, but he could not comment otherwise since he hadn't seen
the injunction yet.

Tri-County CAP will likely be served papers within the next few weeks, court
officials said Friday.

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