We are currently focusing on stories of people & organizations who have done great work helping the homeless.
Bob and Hilary Keating
In 2013, Nashua, NH probably had an average number of homeless people for a city its size (population 88,000). Too many people were suffering, alone, and had no place to live.
Meet Bob Keating, a Marriage and Family Therapist, whose work with the mentally ill for 47 years has
convinced him that everyone needs and should have “a meal and a place to live”. And that “a place to live” is a basic necessity.
Bob’s wife, Hilary, worked for 32 years as a special educator and assessment specialist in the public schools and saw firsthand the effects of hunger and homelessness on children’s development.
Twenty-five years ago “Housing First” swept across the nation. It emphasized that without adequate housing, the many problems of the homeless would continue unabated.
In 1989, Bob was elected a director of the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, and, over the 20 years that he served, the experiences deepened his knowledge of the plight of the homeless and the policies that have led to homelessness in the community and the country at large.
In 2003, Bob and members of the Greater Nashua Continuum of Care wrote a dynamic plan for ending homelessness, “A Home for Everyone.” The plan outlined a way to end homelessness, focusing on preventing homelessness, rapidly housing people whenever possible, and increasing the supply of affordable, permanent, supportive housing. In the plan, one of the goals was to create a trust fund which would be a vehicle to help fund permanent affordable housing.
To that end, in 2013 the “Ending Homelessness Fund” was created by a joint effort of Harbor Homes and the Ending Hunger and Homelessness Project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashua, of which Bob and Hilary are members. Their initial goal was to raise $100,000. That goal was met so quickly that the goal was doubled to $200,000 a few months later, and that too was not only met, but exceeded.
Of the initial money raised, $90,000 was raised by contributions and pledges of members of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and over the next two years, the annual $200,000 goal has continued to be exceeded. The money has been used to provide matching monies for federal grants. The results or return on investments have been tremendous, with the number of chronically homeless in Greater Nashua falling each year, from 81 in 2014 to 12 in 2016.
(Bob, a champion race walker, was a 1984 Olympic qualifier.)
Also read about David & Peggy Gilmour’s Work