Lynn has been a social worker in the Upper Valley for 30 years. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 1988 and obtained her MSW from the University of Vermont in 1995. She was a child welfare social worker for Casey Family Services from 1995-2012. Since 2013 she has served as the Human Services Director for the City of Lebanon. In addition to serving on the Board of NHCEH since 2018, she serves on the Board of Directors for LISTEN Community Services. (Modified from the NH Coalition to End Homelessness (NHCEH) webpage)
In addition to the information above, Ron Michaud shared that the City of Lebanon is lucky to have such a well-qualified social worker leading the Lebanon Welfare Department.
Goodwin began her talk sharing that we are fortunate to have City Counselors and City Leaders that want to find ways to manage the gaps in social services in the state to provide the best resources we can for our citizens who need an extra helping hand.
She reflected on Rotary’s 4-Way Test as she shared her thoughts about the housing crisis in Lebanon.
When she first started her job, the majority of her time was focused on preventing evictions. It is her belief that it always makes more sense to keep folks housed than to pay for emergency shelter.  Managing those who are at risk of losing their home/apartments, and the number of unhoused individuals and families have increased dramatically.  We have a housing crisis in Lebanon.  Small, one-bedroom apartments can start at $1,300/month.  Many of our lower-income citizens can’t afford to pay this amount for housing. Competition for rentals can be fierce with multiple people going after the same rental units.
Even individuals who are eligible for Section 8 Housing can’t find places to rent.
How does section 8 work in New Hampshire?
The goal of the Federal Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) is to provide safe, decent, sanitary, and affordable housing to very low-income households. Through the program, a qualified household pays a portion of their adjusted income toward rent and utilities, and New Hampshire Housing pays the remainder directly to the landlord. The rental unit is selected by the household and must meet certain housing quality standards.
She shared that it is hard to find landlords willing to rent to folks eligible for Section 8 housing as they can get paid more by others who are willing and able to pay more for units.
There are instances when a renter loses their rental unit when the owner sells to a new person, and there are cases where apartments have been deemed unlivable/condemned.
Goodwin strives to work with landlords to encourage them to offer at least one housing unit to an individual qualified for Section 8 housing.
When apartments can’t be found, the alternative is housing the individual(s) in hotel room which cost taxpayers a lot of money.  In 2022, the City of Lebanon spent $74,000 on motel units, and in 2023 this number grew to $104,000.
She briefly discussed that during the January homeless survey, 15 individuals were identified as having no shelter. Goodwin then talked about the establishment of the homeless shelter at 160 Mechanics Street that is set to house 12 to 15 individuals in the winter months. This winter, 53 unique individuals stayed at the shelter.  The shelter is managed by the City of Lebanon and the Haven. Food is being provided by Listen and APD.
The homeless shelter on Mascoma St. may be used for para medical health clinics during the summer months. This property will be available until 2029 when the state is slated to construct a round-about at the intersection of Slayton Hill Road.
She shared a little information about housing issues in our region. It is hard to get a good count of homelessness in Vermont, as programs are administered by the state and not by individual towns/cities.  The homelessness count in Hartford is estimated to be 25.
Another issue that contributes to homelessness is finding “sober housing” for those in recovery. Headrest has opened a sober house in Boscawen and has learned a lot about running a sober house that may help them establish other “sober housing” in the future.