On the Edge… At the Center: Sardine City

On the Edge… at the Center
Stories from the Manchester Homeless Services Center
by: Christopher Emerson, Manager

Sardine City

                Recently we have been watching our numbers rise, and watching how guest behavior changes when the numbers rise. 

                Our daily average in September was 178 guests per day, our highest yet.  On October 22 we served lunch to 192, highest ever.  Our numbers began to rise significantly last spring, and they are still creeping up.

                High numbers take us into Sardine City, crowded, cramped and dense packed.  Irritability rises, tempers get short, quiet corners disappear, and staff need to monitor behavior ever more closely.  During community meetings, I speak directly about keeping cool when crowding happens.  They get the message, but the challenge for everyone is real.

                I notice how crowding changes people’s personalities, driving some folks inward while others thrive on the increased energy in the room.  Again, close monitoring is essential so that our reputation as a safe place will continue unchallenged.

                Meanwhile, we all ask:  where is this trend heading?  What will we do?