Homeless in Rhode Island – Hodgepodge of Motels, an Armory, a hospital, …

Photos of RI State House event – credit “Redeye”

37 degrees in Providence…

The Governor’s Christmas Tree Lighting happened last night with dozens of homeless Rhode Islanders in attendance. The event happened while 50 mph winds blew tents and people living outdoors. There were some chants and shouts directed toward the Governor that he failed on his promise – to offer housing to all in need by Thanksgiving.

Members of the Governor’s staff participated in offering those living in tents at the State House hot food and invited them into the building for the festivities.

Kim Ahern, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Governor said, “We fell short of our goal,” and noted that recent steps they are taking are designed to relieve the burden on the existing agencies stretched to their limits by the crisis.

Cranston Street Armory

Just prior to the lighting event, the Governor announced the Cranston Street Armory would seek approval from fire officials and others to open the ballroom as an emergency shelter to house a maximum of 50, with an open date of “after December 7th”.

Excerpts from statement from Governor McKee’s office on Cranston Street Armory:

The State will open a temporary, 24-hour warming station inside the Cranston Street Armory. This warming station will be open to individuals experiencing homelessness who are living in a place not meant for habitation (e.g. street, car or in an abandoned building). 

The vision for this project is to serve as a temporary, low-barrier option that will immediately provide a safe indoor space for some of the most vulnerable people in this population, regardless of shelter or housing availability on any given night. The State expects to begin operating it as soon as possible and keep it open through April 15. It is the result of a cross-agency partnership among the Governor’s Office, Department of Housing, Department of Administration, Department of Business Regulation, Executive Office of Health and Human Services, and others. 

Today, the State is sending a letter of intent to providers to further engage them on wraparound services for the site. It is unclear if the Armory will be equipped with beds.

Area to be used: yellow shaded Ballroom, only – approx. 4,000 sq. ft. out of the facility’s 190,000 square feet.

Rhode Island garners national news:

Some of our activities to address the homelessness crisis for approximately 500 individuals on the streets are gaining national attention. Our story about the use of the Armory was picked up by a Chicago-based publication:

Read here:

Other recent initiatives:

  • Announcing last week an additional $1.4M to fund over 75 additional shelter beds bring the total number of new shelter beds funded in 2022 to 351.  With these new shelter beds, the Department of Housing expects the statewide shelter capacity to include more than 1,000 operational beds
  • Making $166M in funding available to support affordable housing efforts across the state
  • Directing $9.5 million in federal funds to expand legal services to support low-income households facing housing insecurity. These funds can be used to connect individuals with services like eviction prevention and eviction diversion, mediation between landlords and tenants; case management related to housing stability; housing counseling and fair housing counseling.

United Way address homelessness in interview with WPRO, Tara Granahan: (advance to 13:16 point)

House of Hope interview with Laura Jaworski, director, with Dan Yorke:

Pallet Shelters:

A clarification to media and those discussing homelessness, Pallet Shelters are NOT in Rhode Island. There is one demonstration shelter, only, owned by House of Hope. It was thought that there were 20 in a warehouse – this was told to the media by a House of Hope staff member, incorrectly. They cost approximately $8,500 each and would have to be ordered from Oregon. Land has to be identified, leveled, and the area equipped to connect the small shelters to water and heat. Arrangements need to be made for bathrooms and showers and food. House of Hope has the one demonstration pallet and is supportive of them – yet time is of the essence, and this would take an estimated 6-8 weeks to implement. The discussions about where to put them and where not to put them is moot for this year’s crisis. Jaworski accuses communities who do not want shelters in their cities – such as Cranston, which has the state’s largest homeless shelter – as “pollyanna”. House of Hope owns 13 properties in Warwick right now, with wrap around services.

Memorial Hospital

Memorial Hospital was housing 30 families and planned to expand to 60. But a water leak caused Amos House to have to move people to an extended stay hotel in Warwick. Once repairs are made, the plan as of now, is to move them back.

Motel 6

The Motel 6 is housing approximately 40-70 homeless individuals in Warwick. Mayor Picozzi spoke in support and noted that this is a far different location than the botched NYLO system of last year.

Pawtucket’s offer not taken

Earlier this year Pawtucket Housing told RINewsToday that it has offered it up as an emergency, temporary solution to the state due to the immediate crisis for shelter, and that the state “has not responded to our offer”. Statement from Paula McFarland Pawtucket Housing: “Thank you for following up regarding an update on the 1139 Main Street building. The Pawtucket Housing Authority has continued working alongside the City of Pawtucket as we try to provide adequate options for the State to address our homeless population here in the city. As the weather continues to drop, this becomes more and more urgent. 

Pawtucket Police Headquarters

Pawtucket has opened their police headquarters lobby to anyone in need, 24/7, 7 days a week

This is a developing story

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  1. Melissa Manocchia on December 21, 2022 at 8:05 am

    I am homeless because my apartment mattress caught on fire and because I am a smoker the state fire Marshall said it was from a cigarette when I was inside my truck at the appointment complex smoking a cigarette was seen by 2 neighbors but because I smoked he said it was either smoking or somebody lived on fire and did not choose to investigate anything else as a waffle height is on my bed I’m one being a butane lighter as I was cleaning up And seeing which light is worked in which ones did not so he dismissed that fact impression me so much that I had to admit that I was smoking in the air but I was not I was in my truck and I ran back in the house and saw my mattress on fire and that is why I am homeless today because he chose not to do his job completely and took the easy way out saying I was smoking a cigarette in there which makes no sense because I was in my truck smoking a cigarette But if you’re a smoker then something happens everything is blamed on the cigarette who did not choose to even consider the latest cheap light has been exploded Explorer cheap lighters have been exploded it’s disgusting If he I would have never been homeless if he chose to do his job to the police it’s disgusting

  2. Gail Ribeiro on December 2, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    The city of Pawtucket needs too step up for the Homeless here! I have never seen this many Homeless people before,I’m not homeless just a pawtuck resident who has been here all my life! There is old memorial hospital that place is Huge inside if the GOVERMENT REALLY CARED ABOUT OUR HONELESS POPULATION THEY WOULD GET THE RESOURCES TOO OPEN As a shelter too put our Homeless in!!

  3. Tonya Jones on December 2, 2022 at 12:49 am

    This I so sad. If this state took more time to deal with the homelessness when covid started it wouldn’t be out of control now. We worry about the wrong things. The prices of apartments is ridiculous so it pushes more people to the streets. You get state assistance that help but then you have landlords that take it and evict you. Then you have people that gave up and prefer to be on the streets. No one sees nothing wrong with this. As quick as this state takes in immigrants the people of this state deserves the same energy. Something needs to change economy is getting worse and worse by the minute. Shelters and the waiting list for housing and section 8 is years of waiting. Which mean in the mean time more people are going to be homeless? As many hotels and motels throughout this state no one shouldn’t be on the streets in this type of weather. Myself personally has given out blankets and clothing but that isn’t enough.
    I’m wondering if anyone actually took the time and talk to some of the people on the streets to see how to help them get on their feet.

  4. Lesley M. on December 1, 2022 at 5:15 pm

    Ms. Jaworski thinks Cranston has taken a “pollyanna” approach. I would like her to clarify her remark. Cranston has been clear that the City has Harrington Hall (the count varies as to how many it holds). If one chooses to count the ACI, there are others who will be released and end up homeless. She and the City of Cranston might want to take a look at 501 Reservoir and get back to us as to what is there. Is that an ‘unofficial’ shelter? It seems to be. The area in question is becoming saturated with State buildings, yet, as Mayor Hopkins has pointed out, the State doesn’t “pay its fair share”. It’s become so busy that RIPTA has a bus route on Howard Ave.
    It’s been so easy to cry foul on Cranston but most of the comments I’ve seen/heard are from those outside of the perimeter of Garden City, including some areas of Cranston. They are the true NIMBYs – it’s ok for those nearby but not in another area of the city or any other city. Cranston taxpayers pay for police/rescue services, not the State. Who is going to pay for additional police/rescue services? Cranston?
    There but for the grace of God, I’m fortunate. It’s easy to say put up pallets but I’ve yet to hear a word about the infrastructure. Do the advocates know what’s involved? One doesn’t go in and put up a pallet. It needs connections to electric, sewers, lighting, street access for emergency vehicles, toilets/showers, trash pickup, monitoring and more. Does anybody have a plan? No. It’s another ‘jump in face first’ and a feel-good moment.
    Sadly, there will always be homeless people. This creates a space from the elements. We know this isn’t a solution but it’s not a quick fix either. When the advocates & concerned take a look at the entire picture and what’s involved, perhaps they might stop carrying signs and sit down to create something viable. This isn’t it.

  5. Melvin flick on December 1, 2022 at 12:56 pm

    This all sounds great but time will tell on what is going to happen…

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