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Yesterday, Gov. McKee issued another funding mechanism for those experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. This will provide $5 million. In June of this year, $11 million was directed towards the crisis. Homelessness grew in Rhode Island by nearly 50 percent over the last four years, and 20 percent in just the last year, according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The exact number is difficult to determine. In January, the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness, said HUD’s Point in Time count of homeless found 1,577 people experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island. But homeless advocates say the more realistic number is closer to 4,000. Kids Count has estimated as many as 1,500 homeless are children. Some say these numbers are so difficult because many avoid being “counted”, especially parents, out of fear of losing their children. In June, the program that housed those in need in hotel rooms ended – presumably for the summer tourism season.
The new pot of money will not only identify “non-congregate” housing but incentivize landlords in Rhode Island with an upfront payment and then guaranteed rent for one year.
The statement issued yesterday says –
“In an effort to respond to current and projected needs of families and individuals experiencing homelessness, Governor Dan McKee today announced the State is committing up to $5 million to expand shelter capacity statewide.
“All Rhode Islanders deserve a safe place to sleep at night and expanding our shelter capacity will help ensure we have the resources to support all families and individuals who are experiencing homelessness,” said Governor Dan McKee. “We thank the many shelters, nonprofit organizations and housing advocates across the state for their partnership in this important effort.”
“We are working across government to combat the housing crisis in every form, starting with providing security and stability to the unhoused,” said Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “This funding will support unhoused Rhode Islanders from every walk of life and ensure that they have access to the help they need to get back on their feet. We are already looking forward to reviewing the proposals our innovative community partners will submit, and we are grateful to be able to collaborate with so many excellent organizations around our state.”
The State issued a solicitation related to shelter expansion on Friday, with a focus on expanding trauma-informed shelter in non-congregate settings that serves couples, families, and individuals. OHCD is requesting Letters of Interest from existing Consolidated Homeless Fund vendors. While this solicitation applies only to existing Consolidated Homeless Fund vendors, such agencies may collaborate with non-CHF vendors in developing and submitting proposals.
“To make homelessness rare and brief, we need to stabilize households who are most vulnerable, while simultaneously building units with supportive services for individuals and families who are unhoused,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal. “We understand that goal cannot be reached overnight, which makes the expansion of non-congregate shelter capacity vitally important.”
Funding is available for activities directly related to the expansion of shelter capacity beyond its pre-pandemic capacity. An optional information session will be held at 315 Iron Horse Way on Friday, September 9, from 2 – 3 p.m. for interested applicants.
In addition to the $5M solicitation for shelter expansion, the State, in partnership with Amos House, is continuing to run the Landlord Challenge Initiative – an incentive program that seeks to alleviate the state’s current homeless crisis by providing financial incentives to landlords willing to lease a habitable dwelling to an individual or family that has been challenged in finding a safe, clean, and affordable place to call home. All participating units must be available, safe, and habitable. Landlords will receive a $3,000 signing bonus for the first unit signed on for a one-year lease and $1,000 for each additional unit. Interested landlords can find more information at www.LandlordIncentiveRI.com or by contacting Lissette Simono at Lsimono@amoshouse.com.