NEW: Homelessness on the Rise in RI

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Homelessness advocates are calling on Governor Lincoln Chafee to address the long-term solutions to the state’s growing homeless problem.

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According to a recent single-day assessment, 996 Rhode Islanders were counted as homeless, 146 more than there were on the last assessment in September 2011. This year’s count also showed 728 Rhode Islanders in shelter beds; 112 Rhode Islanders on mats in seasonal shelters; and 156 Rhode Islanders living outside.

“Over the fall we were routinely seeing over a hundred individuals a night in a facility where our capacity is 88,” said Jean Johnson, Executive Director of the House of Hope Community Development Corporation. “Unfortunately once we run out of beds, guys are sleeping sitting upright in chairs around a table.”

Dr. Eric Hirsch, Professor at Providence College and Chair of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Committee, believes the shortfall number of 408 actually underestimates the problem. Hirsch also pointed out that the count does not include those who are couch surfing or living in doubled up situations.

“These increases in homelessness are being driven by economic forces: unemployment, foreclosures and evictions,” stated Hirsch. “It is morally wrong to allow people to die on our streets when it would cost very little to give them a warm, clean bed to sleep in. We need to provide emergency shelter now, but over the long run it will be most cost effective to provide permanent housing for those families and individuals who cannot access what is a very expensive rental housing market.”


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