The Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter (MATS), for people who are experiencing homelessness in our area, began in 1991. In a rural area such as ours, homelessness is not seen and therefore is often surprising. People without shelter “couch surf” from family member to friend to whomever will take them. When options run out, some live in their cars, or in tents in the woods. At MATS, we offer them a safe and warm place to live while they get back on their feet. Homelessness can happen to anyone at any time – due to losing one’s job, losing their home by foreclosure, or an unexpected financial disaster that takes all of their savings. Our program manager meets weekly with our guests guiding them to the state programs that will fit their needs. She helps them with budgeting and housekeeping skills that also will improve their life once they move on from MATS. The shelter has four fully furnished apartments which, depending on the size of a family, may be shared with another family. People stay at MATS from three to six months as they work towards a life of self-sufficiency.
Also read our Success Stories
Fire Sparks More Than the Loss of a House
I was cleaning up after lunch when the truck pulled up the driveway. The kids were in the tent and my husband was gone to the store. There was nowhere to hide if these strangers meant us harm, no doors to lock. The blackened remains of our house offered no shelter as two men got out of the truck. I could see a metal detector in the back of the truck and I knew why they were there. I informed them they were on private property and thankfully they left, but I knew we were still vulnerable as long as we stayed on our land.
It’s so surreal when you lose your house to a fire. Your first feelings are disbelief and disorientation. When the fire trucks and the Red Cross volunteers have left and you try to pick up the pieces, you realize that there aren’t a lot of pieces left to pick up. We lost everything we owned. My family was safe, which was the most important thing.
Eventually insurance will replace many of our things, but in the meantime we have received a lot of help. The community has been absolutely wonderful. We lost our house, but we have not lost our home thanks to members of this community.
-Based on an article written by Hope Pettegrew and Nancy Perkins in Ledger
I knew it would be hard to find a place to live when we decided to move back to Peterborough, but I never imagined it would be this hard. Months ago we decided to move back to the town where my mother lives. Our family of four moved back in with my mom temporarily, thinking it would only be weeks before we found a place. My husband has a job he can commute to, we have steady income, and still, we were struggling to find a place to call our own.
Rents have gone up, with units in our budget most often being small one bedroom apartments. Even if we found something we could afford, landlords don’t want to rent to us when they could rent to a single person who will cause less wear and tear on their property. There were plenty of people looking and applying for each unit, we just couldn’t compete.
A month after we squeezed in with my mom we had to leave. A conflict with another person living there was exacerbated by the overcrowding and we just couldn’t stay. We have a relative in Brattleboro that we were staying with, but… …this meant a 90 minute commute for my husband, plus he had to drop our school-aged child off and pick him up.
I would watch them drive away in the morning with anxiety scratching at my gut, calculating the gas money we had left, how soon we would need to make repairs to the car, and the strain on my husband. Then I would open the paper and scour it for new rentals, carefully budgeting out calls so I wouldn’t run out of minutes on my cell phone before the next paycheck.
The situation was looking grim when we heard about MATS. We stayed at MATS while we searched for a rental in our price range anywhere between the Monadnock Region and Nashua. Finally we found a small two-bedroom unit in Peterborough, which meant my child could even stay in the same school. Transitional housing offered us the time we needed, a chance to find a place we could afford to live in.
-Based on a story by a shelter resident
Back on His Feet
It was hard for me to admit that I needed help. I was always a provider, a strong man who took care of others. But when I found out I had a tumor that needed removal and faced a painful recovery, I realized I needed help.
By the time I was told I needed surgery, I had already lost my car, my job, and my place. I have joint custody of my sons and they stay with me every other week, except I had no place to stay.
Asking for help was something I had to learn to do, but the outpouring of support from this area has really made me feel like a part of the community. I am currently staying with MATS, I am getting rides to the various doctors from Contoocook Valley ride services, members of my church bring my family meals, and the food pantry has been helping with groceries. MATS is giving me the opportunity to be me again, to recover successfully and once again provide for my children and watch them grow up.
-Based on an article written by Hope Pettegrew and Nancy Perkins
A Mother’s Determination
I never imagined I would find myself with three young kids and another on the way, carless, jobless, and homeless. Sometimes life is complicated and you find yourself over your head before you can even take a breath.
I have skills, I am a trained LNA, but without a car or childcare for my children I knew there was no way I could find a job on my own. I had no spouse to help me, no local family to watch the kids while I walked to a job interview in my obviously pregnant state. I was nearing my due date with nowhere to go and no one to rely on.
Both MATS and The River Center have stepped in and helped me in this difficult time. A car was donated that I can fit everyone in and they are helping me find childcare while I search for employment. MATS provides shelter while I get back up on my own two feet. I may be resource poor but I am rich in determination to improve our situation.
-Based on an article written by Hope Pettegrew
Never Say Never
As I reached for the phone, my breathing got shallow, my heart raced and anxiety consumed me. The telephone receiver felt like it weighed 500 pounds. I feared to call for help. All I knew was if I didn’t find shelter, I would be sleeping in my car in the cold. Autumn was here, and winter was coming.
How did I get myself into this situation? I never thought I would need shelter assistance. Divorce, career changes, life changes, and circumstances are what got me. Now I was unemployed.
The possible shame of asking for help kept me slowly sliding down a thin thread, and I didn’t know if it would suddenly break or if I would fall off. I finally let go, surrendering and asking for the outcome of this situation to be taken from me. With this short prayer, I dialed the MATS number.
When I met a volunteer at the MATS shelter I was shocked when we drove up the driveway of a building I recognized. I remembered and smiled, thinking this must be a way of teaching me some humility and living down another “never.” Years ago my pregnant wife and two children were shown this very building by a real estate rental agent. After stepping one foot into the building I arrogantly proclaimed, “We will need a more suitable environment. I would never live in a place like this.” This time, my initial reaction was to cordially thank the volunteer for his time, because I had no place else to go.
-Based on a story by a shelter resident
One day my boyfriend came home to tell me he was moving out of state. This left myself and my two children with two weeks to find a place to live.
I could not afford the rent on the apartment we were sharing. I was blindsided by his decision. Between the emotions of my relationship ending and the fact that we would soon be homeless, I was totally overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I didn’t have the money to rent another apartment, never mind find one.
I couldn’t believe we would soon be homeless; I worked full time. How could that happen.
I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t think straight. I felt frozen by fear. I felt that my life was over.
My children would have to go live with their dad. I would be sleeping in my car. How would I keep my job?
What would I do without my children with me? They are my life and that would be devastating to them and me. They would have to switch schools. I didn’t have any family to help. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
Then a friend told me about MATS. Desperate for answers, and help, I called.
MATS became my safe haven. With the help of MATS I was able to keep my children with me, they were able to stay in their school. I was able to keep my job. I was able to find community resources that I needed. I was able to save money for a security deposit and first month’s rent. I found an apartment that I could afford on my own.
I am very grateful for MATS assistance. My family would not be where we are today if I did not make that call.
– Submitted by a resident of MATS
Puddles in the Parking Lot
I watch my kids splash, muddy and squealing. In this moment they are happy and carefree, and I’m just thankful I have a tub to throw them in when they’re done playing in puddles. Such a simple thing, splashing in puddles, but not something I could allow them to do if we were living in our car instead of staying in transitional housing. Every kid should be able to splash in puddles without worrying about getting cleaned up and warm.
We were renting a house when our landlord was foreclosed on. The bank held an auction and a local real estate developer bought it. They immediately evicted us despite our lease and good payment history.
Could you find yourself somewhere to live with no money, on 30 days notice? Our rent was 45% of our income, and with a car that was always in need of repair we had no savings to move. No one in my family had space for us to double up with, or money to lend us. We found ourselves facing homelessness as a family of six in the worst February in recent memory.
Luckily, we found a place in transitional housing. But that does not solve the problem, it just provides stability to give you time to react to the situation with something other than panic. Even when I had saved up enough, it took months to find a place to live. With poor credit, four kids, and rent that would be half of our income, most landlords had plenty of better options to choose. Eight months later we finally found a landlord with a little compassion who looked at our references and not our credit report. But we are still as vulnerable to homelessness as we were, we are just one disruption away from having no good options.
– Melissa F, resident Shelter from the Storm transitional housing