NHLN Opinion+: Doug Howard

Hugo Balta


This week we spoke with Doug Howard who works as the housing stability program manager for the Front Door Agency. The Front Door Agency is a non-profit organization that assists with creating affordable housing for all people and reducing homelessness in New Hampshire. 

The Front Door Agency has been navigating the pandemic by assisting employers with paying rent and utilities and meeting all of their basic needs. “We do what we need to do to support folks that are out here in the Nashua area,” explained Doug. “We want folks to make sure that they are supported and valued as human beings.”

Doug and the Front Door Agency work diligently to create a safe and confidential space for all people that walk through the door. This goes specifically with people of color as they tend to live in fear of being judged and that people will think less of them. “If my agency can’t help, we want to be able to connect them to the most appropriate agency and make that transition as simple as humanly possible,” stated Doug in respect of all communities. 

Financial and housing stability tend to be the biggest issues that people face. The Front Door Agency is working with families that are struggling to find affordable housing by offering them temporary housing until they find affordable housing. “Getting them that hand up and not that hand out is what we really want to stride,” explained Doug. There’s a variety of different challenges people face and one of them is pride. There are families that want to take pride in taking care of themselves and don’t want to feel ashamed when asking for help. “Sometimes this makes it difficult when asking for help,” explained Doug. “There is a lack of affordable housing in our state. A lot of the housing being built is really not for a lot of the folks who are already here.” Young adults that work in the Boston area are more likely to afford a 1700 dollar single bedroom while an average family who comes from a rural area tend to struggle affording housing. 

New Hampshire has been in that more young adults that work in the Boston area are taking up more housing space than families that have grown up in New Hampshire. “We see a lot of families that are living double up and tripled up with other families and friends as that is the only way that will work financially. Making sure that families are safe and have what they need in order to be good on their own is what we are trying to do,” explained Doug, clarifying the type of people that struggle the most with housing. 

“There are some things that make it difficult for folks to access these types of services and a lot of those folks are people of color. There is a need to work with our local and state government to make sure we can take care of our folks,” explained Doug on the concept of systematic issues that prevent people of color from accessing the Front Door Agency. “We want to make sure that we get a good enough idea on what the situation is and then make sure they get connected to the appropriate help.” The Front Door Agency never wants to say no to someone and not offer them any additional resources that may help. 

“Always connect to your local student liason,” stated Doug as they are a great resource for those who are suffering from homelessness. There are resources in every district that help students receive the same support for success and safety regardless of what their documentation status is or their background. 

Resources mentioned in the video: 

Front Door Agency: https://www.frontdooragency.org/about/

Department of Education: https://www.education.nh.gov/who-we-are/division-of-learner-support/bureau-of-instructional-support/ehcy