Homeless in RI: “I was not able to see how I was…”, Encampment moves, Pallets stall, Street Sights


Providence: 2-3 encampments with approximately 70 people are set to be dismantled in the Providence area. A demonstration by homeless advocacy groups took place at Providence City Hall. Advocates are asking for another outdoor area to set up or more shelter bed availability. Smiley acknowledged there are not enough open and waiting beds at this time and that the state has closed over 700 shelter beds, as it does seasonally. 72 hours notice is given. At an unrelated event, reporters gathered to ask questions to Smiley about where the homeless are supposed to go, once removed from areas considered unsafe (one being feet from a highway, another where overdoses have happened with emergency services unable to access the area). Smiley responded that some people will have places to go while others won’t, but that is the responsibility of the state’s homeless systems, and the city is funneling more money than ever before into homelessness. In the press conference held yesterday, the head of the RI Coalition on Homelessness said that “there are many children” who are homeless in RI and living in encampments.

Watch the full video of the press event on the steps of Providence City Hall, taken by WPRI, here:

West Warwick: The town manager acknowledges that there are no beds, and no other solutions, and, for now, the encampment, located behind a proposed shelter in an empty furniture building that was rejected by the community, can stay where they are. Notably, it is within a short distance of a day care center.

Fall River: 3 encampments have been cleared in the area – referrals to a sober house and shelter housing.

Pawtucket: Multiple encampments are under scrutiny by the city, with Bianca Policastro leading the effort – there are multiple tent sites off School Street, Division Street, dotted through the wooded areas, and one right out in the open in a field across from Apex. Even when housing is found, people are hesitant to move, preferring to stay where they are.

Pallet Shelters – Echo Village

The 45 pallet shelters being set up in Providence. Due to open in April, the village is not now going to open “to be ready for the cold weather season”, per Gov. McKee. Others estimate the village should be open “mid-month”, unclear if this means May. Housing Secretary Pryor says the delays were in zoning, licensing and infrastructure. Construction of the village was halted when the permitting process stalled because the project didn’t easily fit into categories and fire prevention inspections had to be done. There has been some comments made as well by people in the city that the ground area may be a problem.

Notably, the Boston Globe reports that Shattuck Village in Boston, a pallet shelter community, has run out of funds and will close, albeit with housing needs clearly unmet for those living there.

Street Sights Monthly Newsletter – May 2024

Street Sights serves as a forum for advocates, homeless, and formerly homeless people, students, state
officials, and the general public to share accurate and honest information about issues relating to
homelessness. Their goal is to shed light on a subject not often addressed and, to some degree, ignored. Here is their May newsletter – read by using the scrolling down tool at the upper right of the document of downloading at the symbol in that same area.

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