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Nashua shelter tackles problems of homelessness, addiction

A shelter in Nashua is having some success helping people struggling with addiction and homelessness.

The Maple Street Shelter has helped people get back on track for more than 30 years. Amid the opioid epidemic, staff members said making sure that the environment remains drug-free is a priority.

Rachael Nickerson said she’s getting a second chance after battling a heroin addiction for more than 17 years.

“It’s been a struggle for years and years, and it’s finally done,” Nickerson said.

She recently signed a lease for a new apartment after being homeless for most of her life.

“I never would have thought I would be moving into a safe, nice place, and I really have Maple Street to thank for it,” she said.

Nickerson checked into the Maple Street Shelter three weeks ago for a program run under the Partnership for Successful Living. She has been through rehab, secured a job and is now on Suboxone to help her stay clean.

The program will also give her some money to help pay rent.

“There aren’t people high around you. There aren’t people drunk around you where you’re going to lay your head down,” she said.

Shelter manager Tom Lopez said the organization has a strict drug-free policy.

“We talk about sobriety maintenance,” he said. “We ask them for information about their history.”

There are 20 beds for men and five for women. Lopez said anyone who abuses drugs while living at the shelter is not allowed to return.

“Our staff takes it very seriously that we are custodians of people’s futures here,” he said.

Steven Lawson, who said he has been in recovery for nine years, knows how important a clean environment can be.

“People who are fresh in recovery don’t want to see that,” he said. “That is the last thing they want to see.”

“Everyone here has the right to be able to pursue their own forward progress without having to be concerned about the people they are staying with,” Lopez said.

Lopez said that staff members are with their clients every step of the…

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