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Amos House was approved to operate the Cranston Street Armory Warming Station, and with the assistance of the RI National Guard, the facility opened last night at 5pm, prepared to accept approximately 50 people.
“Amos House has been a strong, dedicated partner and we look forward to working with them on the Cranston Street Armory Warming Station,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I thank Eileen Hayes and her team for stepping up in a remarkable way to support this crucial effort to provide emergency shelter for Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness during the winter months.”
Over the next several days, Amos House will work in close coordination with the Rhode Island National Guard to ensure an effective and efficient transition of operations at the warming station.
“As the weather gets colder, it is critical to stand up low-barrier spaces that give unhoused individuals a safe and warm place to access supportive services,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal. “We thank the many people who worked to operationalize the Cranston Street Armory in a short period of time, and we thank Amos House for their willing leadership in this effort.”
Eileen Hayes, Amos House, CEO, said, “For the many individuals who are currently without safe housing during the winter months, the Cranston Street Warming Station will provide warmth, safety, and an array of vital services.”
While the Governor’s office did not mention Crossroads in their announcement, Crossroads is reported to be providing wrap-around support services, for those who come to the Armory.
The Armory is equipped with a medical care area, will have food brought in, and portable shower vans at least twice a week. The “station” is not set up with beds, but with canvas-type cots, positioned together in a group with a privacy area with more cots in a group. There is no storage furniture such as nightstands or closets, as can be seen, at this time. The visual look is much like those seen at emergency evacuation shelters where people go in a flood or tornado, and is intended to be a temporary transition to other housing arrangements. The center is set to stay open through early spring.
Court case ruled in favor of the state’s actions to evict homeless encampment at the RI State House:
R.I. Superior Court Judge David Cruise who heard the case for preventing the state from evicting the homeless encamped at the RI State House, brought by a private attorney and joined by the RI ACLU, heard the case on its merits on Friday and in the late afternoon released his decision requiring the encampment to immediately have all restrictions against their eviction removed, and that the restriction at the State House did not violate the homeless individual’s civil rights.
The ACLU did not make a formal statement, though in several media interviews attorneys said they were disappointed by the decision and would speak to their clients about next steps, noting that the Monday stay of eviction now is immediately removed and they must leave the property now.
7 people at the State House have accepted shelter offers from the state prior to the hearing
The Governor released this statement about the decision:
“From the start, our team has been focused on connecting unhoused Rhode Islanders with safe, warm shelter. Over the last several weeks, members of our Administration worked diligently to offer shelter options to all who were encamped at the State House. Thanks to their efforts, the majority of individuals accepted the offer of shelter and transportation to that shelter. We were able to outline those extensive outreach efforts to the court and today’s ruling acknowledges the effectiveness of that work. The ruling also upheld the validity of the reasonable time, place and manner restrictions that the Department of Administration has in place for use of the State House grounds. We thank those local partners who worked with us to help get people into shelter urgently – that has always been our primary goal.”
From the RI ACLU about the court decision:
“We are extremely disappointed in the court’s decision. We believe it fails to acknowledge the arbitrary and discriminatory way the state’s policies on overnight protest have been implemented, and makes light of an important state law designed to ensure public input, transparency and oversight over state policy making.
“The plaintiffs have stayed at the State House in freezing weather to make an important point, and it is very unfortunate that the end result is that they now face arrest for doing so.
“Eliminating this protest may prevent some people from having to directly confront a visible example of the state’s housing crisis, but it only hides the problem and denies the exercise of a fundamental freedom.
“The protest has nonetheless had a salutary effect in that over the last several days, efforts have been successful in finding adequate housing for most of the protesters. It is telling that it took a months’ long protest to get us to this point.
“Over the next few days, we will talk with the clients to consider next steps.”
It is not known at publication time if any homeless remain at the RI State House or what steps will be taken by the state if there are.
There is still a Monday deadline at 4pm for the RI Coalition to End Homelessness to provide the list of encampments around the state, estimated by advocates to be approximately 80, as well as the data in the CES waiting list, and to implement using the information database to document all interactions with clients.
State demands homeless information from Coalition. They say, “we don’t have it”
This is a developing story and will be updated periodically.