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Update: Homeless at RI State House given 48 hours to leave, promising shelter

Photo: Steve Ahlquist, UpRise RI Twitter

For UPDATES, see bottom of article:

Senior staff members of Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee, with the Rhode Island State Police on site, went tent to tent in the rain, serving eviction notices to the homeless living in tents on the property of the RI State House at 9am TODAY. The eviction notice requires vacating the property by 9am Friday.

Steve Ahlquist of UpRiseRI was the only member of the press on the scene as events unfolded and provided media who were not notified or sent an information release updates via live Tweeting. Ahlquist provided a photo of the eviction notice:

Everyone in possession of the eviction notice was informed that they would be provided with a bed. However, couples would need to be separated as no couple housing or housing with pets was available. Men were told they could go to Emmanuel House, a shelter run by the Diocese of Providence. No information was available for women or arrangements for pets. Possessions would be moved and/or stored, and transportation provided. Any items left on site not labeled would be disposed of.

Failure to comply with leaving the State House premises could result in a fine or arrest, per the announcement.

Eva Marie Mancuso, also of the governor’s office, was handing out coffee and doughnuts to those who wanted it. Yesterday members of House of Hope delivered pizza to the encampment.

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A spokesperson for Emmanuel House said they have had bed availability “all along” and were told to expect 4 men to come over today.

Their census was increased from approximately 35 to over 50 in a bunk bed type setting. The spokesperson said that no women could be housed there. They accept people in active recovery. People do have to leave every day at 7am and can return no sooner than 6pm. The shelter is run by the Diocese of Providence and is located on Public Street.

From the Diocese: Emmanuel House is an emergency men’s shelter of the Diocese of Providence located in Providence. Emmanuel House is open 7 days a week, nightly from 7:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. Emmanuel House has a capacity of 50 single men. In addition, from November 1 through April 30, Emmanuel House can accommodate up to an additional 20 single men through funding provided by the State’s seasonal shelter program. Over the past several nights, our shelter has housed between 57 and 58 men each evening. 

This morning we were asked by the state to provide shelter and needed services for four of the men who have been staying on the front plaza of the State House. As we always have been, we are prepared to assist and shelter more men if needed.

There is a couples shelter run by Crossroads though we are still waiting for information on this possibility.

Rep. Enrique Sanchez has publicly called for the eviction notices to be rescinded.

Those in need of emergency shelter anywhere in Rhode Island should contact (401) 277-4316 or www.rihomeless.org/ces. This is the central intake line for all calls for emergency shelter/housing information.

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The Cranston Street Armory has repairs needed to open it – when they are made it will take up to 50 people according to the Governor’s office. Update on that is here: ARMORY – the Boston Globe notes that so far, no agency has responded to the RFP to run this program.

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TY to Tara Granahan on WPRO who interviewed RINewsToday on the developments as they were happening.

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Documenting the notifications was Steve Ahlquist of UpriseRI:

UPDATES:

Many of those encamping at the RI State House are being moved out to facilities today, in the rain, with crews helping them pack up.

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Statement of Crossroads:

Following the administration’s actions earlier today regarding the individuals seeking shelter on the State House grounds, Crossroads deployed a team of street outreach workers and case managers to help ensure a smooth transition to emergency shelter, as we have done since tents first arrived at the State House weeks ago. Our team is connecting people with shelters that best fit their needs.

Our focus today is ensuring that Rhode Islanders in need are kept safe, which is why we – along with a number of other service providers – are offering shelter beds to those impacted and why we have stepped up to work with the state and others to bring emergency shelters and other supports online as quickly as possible. While we are responding to this urgent action, we will not lose sight of the need to provide people experiencing homelessness with the support and resources they need to find and maintain permanent housing. 

Statement of Governor McKee:

“As we’ve shared previously, street outreach teams from local homelessness providers contracted by the State’s Department of Housing have routinely checked on the individuals outside the State House over the last several months to connect individuals to available services and shelter.

Earlier today, street outreach workers from our providers in collaboration with state employees, again visited the individuals outside the State House and offered to work with them to immediately connect them to a bed and transportation to a shelter. 

After several months of outreach, individuals were notified this morning that they must vacate State House grounds within 48 hours and that camping/sleeping overnight at the State House is prohibited. Over the 48 hours, outreach workers will continue to meet with the individuals and again offer them access to an immediate bed and transportation to a shelter. To make every effort to keep individuals connected with their belongings, any possessions boxed within 48 hours will be temporarily stored by the Department of Administration for 30 days. The State has materials available to assist individuals in packing their belongings. 

The State’s goal has always been to work with our local providers to engage the individuals outside the State House in a way that meets their needs and ultimately connect them with shelter and permanent housing with wraparound services.”

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The RI ACLU

The RI ACLU has been asked for an opinion on the legality of the action, noting that the notification was given on plain white paper, undated and unsigned. The law section mentioned has to do with trespassing on private property

Prayer and Protest

An event has been sent for TODAY from 5 to 6pm at the RI State House encampment location:

Friday morning Rally – has been set for 8am Friday at the RI State House (1 hour before eviction deadline):

Governor’s Office

Several members of the media have notice that the Governor’s office and the housing czar office and their spokespeople are no longer responding to media requests and statements.

WPRO-AM

In any developing story, talk radio is integral in following and informing.

Tara Granahan of WPRO spoke to RINewsToday but the interview was not podcast – later in the day, Dan Yorke had 2 long interviews on the day’s events:

Coalition to End Homelessness – talks about the inability to place all those who are living outside – putting into question the promise of a home for all those notified

Interview with Rev. Duane Clinker, pastor of the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church – provider of pastoral care, Sunday morning meals

This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.

RI Homeless Bill of Rights:

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9 Comments

  1. Jessica Donnelly on December 7, 2022 at 11:44 pm

    This is not the first time Steve Ahlquist from UpRiseRI has been left out of the loop. I think we know why. Only 4 beds available and CSA is not even up and running. More should have been done earlier. It’s colder now and we are moving from crisis to catastrophe.

    • Nancy Thomas on December 7, 2022 at 11:49 pm

      Steve was the only reporter on the scene early this morning. His video serves as documentary.

      • Jessica Donnelly on December 8, 2022 at 5:58 pm

        Nancy, thank you for clarifying.
        “ Steve Ahlquist of UpRiseRI was the only member of the press on the scene as events unfolded and provided media who were not notified or sent an information release updates via live Tweeting. Ahlquist provided a photo of the eviction notice:” I was confused as to whether he was the the only reporter there who was not notified or if he provided media for others who were not notified.

  2. Attn:Janice Luongo on December 7, 2022 at 7:58 pm

    We can’t house our homeless but it seems the Mayor Elorza can find money to bring
    Penguins back to Providence. Outrageous!

    City Leaders Present $1.5 Million to Roger Williams Park Zoo to Help Bring Penguins Back to PVD

    • Jessica Donnelly on December 8, 2022 at 12:03 am

      Janice, I agree. They are using covid funding. The zoo officials said they lost significant revenue during the pandemic. I would like to see how they are doing now. There are always special events going on. They attract a lot of people and are not inexpensive. I love animals but people before penguins.

  3. Attn:Janice Luongo on December 7, 2022 at 7:55 pm

    Please check out the Homeless bill of rights act

  4. LM on December 7, 2022 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks for the update. I have to ask beds and transport to where? Once again, no specifics. If Emmanuel House had beds all along, why didn’t they put it out there previously? The Armory is “advertised” as a warming center. My interpretation is that it is simply that – a warming center, not a shelter with beds, meals, showers, etc.
    I suggest that you post the interview with Gene Valicente on here. I caught it on FB but wonder how many listen to the radio or are on FB anymore. His questions & concerns are valid and many of us have the same.
    This State never addresses the problems – homelessness, affordable & senior housing, the increasing supposedly “market price” apartments, the constant giving of tax credits & breaks these developers get yet, they don’t give back to the communities they disrupt. There’s a stadium being built that was supposed to include affordable housing but now it isn’t. The whole $60 million is going to the stadium. The work has started on that when the apartments should have been first but our leaders are ok with this. Fortuitous won’t give the names of the investors – why? This stadium should have been a referendum, not a decision made by the few.
    The only transparency that exists is that it’s business as usual in R.I. We have been beaten down so often, we have given up. Nobody is going to listen or answer questions.

  5. Janice Luongo. Editor of Street Sights. The only homelessness newspaper in Ri on December 7, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    This is ridiculous. You are inhuman Govenor and general assembly members.
    You treat people with no respect and kindness.
    I am asking all senators and Reps to recind this notice immediately. These are our sisters and brothers.
    Is there a lawyer out there who can help them. Please.

  6. Eric Hirsch on December 7, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    No homeless service agency has responded to the request for proposals to run the Armory Shelter. The administration’s plan for it is not viable.

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