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Ari Mischik,

May 1, 2024

Report conducted by the UNH Carsey School of Public Policy

MANCHESTER, N.H. - The ACLU of New Hampshire today released a comprehensive report assessing community safety for Granite State residents in Manchester, which compiles existing data, literature, and resources on a range of key factors like housing, environmental hazards, and mental health services. The report was developed by the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey School of Public Policy and funded by the ACLU of New Hampshire. 

“Granite Staters in Manchester deserve real solutions to increase community safety, and this report is a deep look into what’s currently happening in the city and the steps to increase that safety,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “We continue to urge lawmakers and activists alike to support evidence-based solutions that prevent crime by addressing the root causes, like affordable housing, mental health and addiction services, and economic growth.”

Some of the report’s key findings are as follows.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD): SUD prevalence has almost doubled in New Hampshire in recent years—from 8.6 percent during 2016-2018 to 16.2 percent in 2021. The number of suspected opioid overdoses in Manchester peaked in 2017 at 877 and hit a recent low in 2020 at 412. However, suspected opioid overdoses have been climbing since, with 573 in 2021 and 701 in 2022.

  • Many overdose prevention strategies—such as syringe service programs or overdose reversal medications like Narcan—are proven to save lives and be cost-effective. Common challenges and barriers to implementing these programs include stigma, lack of trust, limited availability of programming, racism, and a lack of input from people who use drugs.
  • There is a small group of “high utilizers” of jail services that are very costly to the state and counties. These high utilizers, of which there is a serious racial disparity, tend to be booked for nonviolent charges, have higher mental and behavioral health needs including SUD, and are more likely to have experienced homelessness suggests an intersection between incarceration and unmet social, economic, and health needs. 

Economy, Housing, and Environment: Manchester is younger and more racially and ethnically diverse than the state overall, which offers significant potential for the city to be a state and regional leader in inclusive community safety planning. However, the city also faces areas of lower resources and higher risks than other parts of the state.  

  • Over the last decade, poverty rates in Manchester have been consistently higher than in either Hillsborough County or New Hampshire. They are also uneven. Poverty rates among Hispanic or Latine, Black, and multiracial Manchester residents are more than twice as high as among non-Hispanic white residents.
  • One-in-three people experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire in 2021 were in Manchester. Across the state, Black residents were four times more likely to experience homelessness than white residents. Hispanic/Latine residents were twice as likely.
  • Among New Hampshire communities, Manchester stands out for having higher risk of exposure to harmful air pollutants. Lead exposure is a particular concern.