Hundred Nights homeless shelter in Keene will be closing its annual season on April 15. The shelter has seen a spike in residents this year, according to Mindy Cambiar, the executive director of Hundred Nights. Cambiar said, “Other shelters in Keene are run by Southwest Community Services; that’s the local cap agency. We’re independent, so we get money from the City of Keene and mostly private donations.” “We have higher numbers of residents this year, and we have an overflow site at the church at the end of the square. So we have approval for 26 beds, but we typically had 38 people all winter,” Cambiar said.  She continued, “We’ve seen 900 more bed nights this year than last year. Just because there was less snow doesn’t mean the nights weren’t cold.”

John Rider of Southwest Community Services said, “I volunteered last year at Hundred Nights last year and I know that they had ample volunteers. It does surprise me that [Hundred Nights’] numbers are up, especially considering how cold it was last year. I know that two shelters in Concord so that could mean more homeless in the region are being redirected to Hundred nights.” He continued, “I know that their numbers could be up because I know that two shelters in Concord were closed last year, and that more homeless are being redirected to Hundred Nights in Keene.”

Cambiar said that the shelter has made some changes, such as the addition of lockers for residents to keep their items in and the introduction of healthier snack options like hard boiled eggs and fruit.

“We started serving coffee first thing in the morning, before they had to leave at 7 [a.m.],” Cambiar said. “We open the doors at 6:45 at night instead of at 7 because we don’t want people to stand outside in the cold for too long,” Cambiar said.

Keene State College Junior Chris Sullivan said he wasn’t surprised at the annual growth and success of the shelter. “When I’m outside my apartment or walking to class, it’s nice to see people hanging out outside the shelter on nice days because I know it’s purpose is to keep people out of the cold,” he said The shelter was opened in 2010 as an emergency cold weather shelter for the many homeless who were unable to secure a bed in the City of Keene Shelters, and that objective still stands today, according to the Hundred Nights Inc. website.

Hundred Nights Inc. website includes a list of private donors who have contributed to the shelter over the past couple years, including local businesses like Lindy’s Diner, which is adjacent to the shelter.

The shelter plans to close on April 15, and will open back up on Thanksgiving. Cambiar noted that these dates are subject to change depending on the weather.

Marc Apesos can be contacted at mapesos@kscequinox.com