As the colder months approach, the Tri-City Mayors of Rochester, Dover, and Somersworth are issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) in collaboration with the Strafford County Commissioners to identify a qualified operator for the Willand Road Warming Center, located at 30 Willand Drive in Somersworth, NH.
Last year, SOS Recovery Community Organization had been the sole respondent to the previous RFP to manage the Willand Road Warming Center. SOS provided management and staff, ensuring shelter and support for community members in need of warmth during extreme cold weather conditions. However, recently, the organization regretfully communicated its inability to continue due to staffing concerns and other logistical challenges.
The key distinction between seasonal warming centers and year-round shelters is the emphasis on protecting individuals from life-threatening extreme weather conditions. Other shelters in Strafford County, such as My Friend’s Place in Dover and the Homeless Center for Strafford County in Rochester, operate year-round and have different missions than the Willand Road Warming Center, which prioritizes harm reduction-oriented approaches with minimal barriers to access. These differences may include variances in intake processes, background checks, alcohol and drug testing, among other variables.
Support for the operation of the Willand Road Warming Center is provided by the Cities of Dover, Rochester, Somersworth and Strafford County as part of a collaborative cold weather safety plan. Contributions are a combination of operating funds and in-kind services.
The RFP seeks pre-planning and operation of up to 60 beds for the 2023-2024 season.
The Willand Road Warming Center will open to provide temporary overnight protection at the direction of the Tri-Cities’ Emergency Management Directors (EMDs) when extreme winter weather is predicted to pose a significant threat to life safety for unsheltered residents. The Tri-Cities’ EMDs will collaboratively determine when the warming center will open, and every effort will be made by the Tri-Cities’ EMDs to provide the shelter operator and community partners with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice for each request for warming center activation.
The determination to open by the EMDs will be based upon a set of weather conditions pre-determined by the Tri-City Mayors and will be based upon temperature, windchill, precipitation, and other weather-related conditions.
Organizations interested in responding to the RFP to operate The Willand Road Warming Center for the 2023-2024 season are encouraged to review the requirements outlined in the RFP documents, which is available through the respective city websites. Click here to view the RFP on the City of Rochester’s website.