Finding a Home: Mary Loftis – Ready to move, but nowhere to go

  • Mary Loftis —COURTESY PHOTO

Published: 3/7/2022 8:00:49 AM
Modified: 3/7/2022 8:00:15 AM

When the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter (MATS) was founded more than 30 years ago, it was more of an emergency shelter, providing short-term housing for people who had suddenly found themselves without a place to live. Over time MATS has evolved, thanks to the financial support of the community and the vision and hard work of its volunteer board.

The organization owns a four-unit apartment building as well as a duplex, both in Peterborough. A full-time program manager and part-time administrative assistant support the guests, who have recently stayed with the program for up to 18 months. During that time, guests work with the program manager on budgeting, transportation, employment, finding child care and accessing services to which they are eligible. After they move to their own apartments, that support continues as needed. The program at MATS works. Guests who complete it are able to maintain stable housing – and consequently stable lives – for themselves and their children.

A decade ago, the average stay at MATS was considerably shorter than it is these days. The reason for this is simple -- there is less and less available, affordable housing for families to move into when they complete the program. Waiting periods for subsidized housing are many months or years long. So our guests are often ready to move, but there is no place to go.

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Chris Sununu acknowledged the housing crisis in New Hampshire and proposed some initiatives using federal relief funds: a $100 million housing incentive fund that includes $60 million in grants to match investments in multifamily housing, $30 million to reward municipalities approving permits within six months, a $5 million grant fund to clear dilapidated buildings and $5 million in planning grants to update local regulations.

Updating local regulations is key to solving the affordable housing crisis. Zoning rules, often established many decades ago, can impede progress. The concept of missing middle housing – duplexes, triplexes, bungalow courts and small live-work units – in buildings that blend into a neighborhood of single-family homes is often precluded by zoning that limits density with minimum lot sizes. Such units, in walkable proximity to town commerce and schools, could provide housing for those with limited income as well as people who no longer want to maintain a single-family house. This creates the potential for vibrant, multigenerational diversity. We at MATS hope some of the planning grant money benefits Monadnock-area towns so that we can move forward in addressing the housing crisis.

If you wish to contribute to MATS, please visit

Mary Loftis was a  MATS board member for nine years, and is now a volunteer.

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