CONWAY — Amy Martin had a rough morning last Friday, when she had to leave the Yankee Clipper Inn in North Conway, her home for the past few months. Her stay was paid for with assistance from Tri-County Community Action.
Linda Sullivan, Martin’s mother, said her daughter suffers from bipolar disorder and depression and is disabled.
Martin, 42, had been the beneficiary of the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program for those who could not pay rent or utilities during the pandemic. People apply for the assistance though their local Community Action Program. In this case, the agency was Tri-County Community Action, which deferred comment to the state program.
But Sullivan said the assistance program is too complicated for people like her daughter to navigate without help. Sullivan said the reason her daughter was being kicked out was because she was a few days late filing paperwork.
“These people were housed and abandoned by this program without guidance, case management and the ability to find affordable housing,” Sullivan told the Sun. “As winter approaches, people who could have survived the summer in tents, etc. will be left to freeze to death.
“I can’t sleep at night knowing my daughter’s in a tent behind Walmart,” Sullivan told the Sun in an interview last Friday. “We need a good solution.”
Social service agencies like Tri-County CAP and the Way Station are “fragmented,” says Sullivan and need to “get on the same page” because the programs bewilder people like her daughter.
Martin, who talked quickly and laughed and smiled frequently during the otherwise sobering conversation, said she had questions about the Tri-County CAP program but said Homeless Outreach Program Manager Anna B. Stanley wouldn’t respond.
“Now I’m getting kicked out because she couldn’t answer me,” said Martin.
An email from Stanley told Martin she had “three months to complete your housing searches. You did not comply with the program so you have been asked to leave the hotel.”
Tri-County CAP CEO Jeanne Robillard referred the Sun to New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. The authority’s director of communications, Grace Lessner, told the Sun in an email, “We cannot provide information on individual households and the types of assistance they are possibly receiving due to privacy concerns. Thank you for your understanding.”
Martin said she was told she could check out of the Yankee Clipper and reapply for assistance, but it’s unclear when the housing assistance would restart or what she will do in the meantime.
“They want you to call apartments that you can’t even afford no matter what — they just want you to call to make it look like you’re calling,” said Martin. “I don’t think that’s right. ... I have phone phobia. I have anxiety to begin with.”
Conway Police Sgt. Michael Boucher was at the Yankee Clipper at 11 a.m. with K9 Officer Morganne Sterl to assist with not only Martin’s removal but that of another person. Boucher said police were asked to remove people from two rooms and that they had until 4 p.m. to vacate. He said his understanding was that their rooms were not paid for because Tri-County CAP assistance had terminated.
“People are here for various reasons, but they still have to follow the rules, and the rooms have to be paid for. They can’t stay here for free,” said Boucher.
Boucher said the occupants were asked to leave Wednesday but were given until Friday leave. He said legally hotel owners are allowed to kick anyone out they wish. The Sun asked what happens if the person being made to leave has no place to go.
“It’s their issue,” said Boucher. “They can dial 211 for resources.”
Brianne Dunleavy, 34, said she was being kicked out due to a conflict with with the hotel, not Tri-County CAP. She said she has a 6-year-old son whom she sees every other week.
Asked if she had a place to go, she said, “I don’t even have a vehicle to put my stuff in.”
By 4 p.m., Dunleavy was hurriedly cleaning out her room. She said her mother bought her a day’s extension but then she would have to vacate Saturday. Asked what she could do for work, Dunleavy said housekeeping.
Two other women also were moving out of the Yankee Clipper last Friday. One said she was leaving of her own accord; the other was in a hurry to make the 4 p.m. deadline.
Martin explained that after she divorced, she came to Conway from Rhode Island to live with her mother. Sullivan said at present she’s living with a roommate and can’t take Martin in. Sullivan said she will store some of Martin’s belongings in her Camry.
Martin credits the Way Station, a resource center in North Conway, for helping her. She said they give out $25 gift cards to Hannaford and laundromats.
Martin said her life “spiraled out of control” after falling for the wrong man. “I had my own apartment, everything until I met him,” said Martin. “And that’s when I went down.”
Martin has few possessions and no car, but she does have a little fish named Sparkles she seems to adore. At around 4 p.m. Friday, Martin said she had found a temporary place to stay. “I’m am out!” Martin said of the Yankee Clipper. “I did it within 24 hours.”
Dunleavy would like help getting back on her feet. Anyone who can offer assistance can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 348-0097.