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NEW: RI’s Homeless Population Shrinks for First Time Since 2007

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

 

Rhode Island’s homeless population is on the decline for the first time since 2007, according to new report released by the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless today. The 2013 data shows that the number of homeless individuals decreased from 4,868 in 2012 to 4,447 in 2013, which is a 9% dip. The figures also showed decreases from 2012 to 2013 for children, families and veterans entering homelessness.

Reason for the decline

Providence College Professor Dr. Eric Hirsch, who released the statistics, attributed the decrease to a combination of a recovering economy and the homeless system beginning to see the benefits of programs outlined in Opening Doors Rhode Island, the state’s plan to end homelessness.

“In addition to creating better outcomes for those Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness, housing our homeless makes good, sound fiscal sense,” explained Hirsch. “My research shows a cost savings of $10,000 for the typical Medicaid user who was homeless, once they become stabilized with housing.”

The encouraging news was announced this morning at a State House event, which included advocates, homeless and formerly homeless constituents. The event also included the launch of State House Project Homeless Connect, a special event that will weekly directly link the homeless to the services they need.

The data

The Annual Statistics also found decreases across the board including:

  • 9% decrease in the overall number of homeless from 4,868 in 2012 to 4,447 in 2013
  • 7% decrease in homeless families from 678 in 2012 to 631 in 2013
  • 13% decrease in homeless children from 1,277 in 2012 to 1,117 in 2013
  • 12% decrease for homeless veterans from 299 in 2012 to 264 in 2013

 

Looking forward

There was one area of concern amongst the positive news, the fact that the most chronic, long-term individuals are staying longer in the shelters. But even that news has a silver lining. With the recent funding of $750,000 for rental vouchers by the Legislature, 125 of the most chronic homeless are in the process of being housed.

“We are thrilled to see positive movement towards our vision of a state that houses its citizens that have experienced homelessness, rather than simply sheltering them,” said Jim Ryczek, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “We have long known how to end homelessness in our state, but we have needed the funding to make it a reality. This legislative session can build on last year’s funding success by supporting legislation that continues to fund the solutions.”

“Homelessness exacerbates health problems and difficulties with accessing appropriate overall healthcare,” added Vickie Walters, Associate Director of Residential and Home Base for the Providence Center, one of the agencies that received the new rental voucher funding to house the homeless. “Housing has improved the quality of life for many formerly chronic homeless Rhode Islanders. Housing is an essential innovation. Housing with appropriate services provides stability and the base for improving overall health. It enables folks to become positive, active participants in the world and enables people to reconnect with their family. Housing is healthcare.”

Click here to read more about the report.


Related Slideshow:
Rhode Island’s Most Unemployed Cities and Towns

Below are the unemployment rates for Rhode Island's 39 cities and towns from August 2013.  

The statewide average for the month was 9.1% -- the third highest rate in the country.  

Prev Next

#39 Narragansett

Latest Unemployment Rate: 6.0

Labor Force: 9,244

Employed: 8,688

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 9.0 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 5.6 (September 2012, June 2013)

Prev Next

#37 (Tie) Jamestown

Latest Unemployment Rate: 6.5

Labor Force: 3,014

Employed: 2,818

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 9.5 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 5.7 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#37 (Tie) New Shoreham

Latest Unemployment Rate: 6.5

Labor Force: 1,507

Employed: 1,409

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 30.9 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 5.0 (August 2011)

Prev Next

#36 Barrington

Latest Unemployment Rate: 6.8

Labor Force: 8,211

Employed: 7,651

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.8 (August 2011)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.4 (April, May, July 2013)

Prev Next

#35 Richmond

Latest Unemployment Rate: 6.9

Labor Force: 4,316

Employed: 4,018

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.5 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 5.2 (May 2013)

Prev Next

#34 Glocester

Latest Unemployment Rate: 7.2

Labor Force: 5,893

Employed: 5,470

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.7 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.4 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#33 North Kingstown

Latest Unemployment Rate: 7.3

Labor Force: 15,033

Employed: 13,939

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.5 (January, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.6 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#32 Little Compton

Latest Unemployment Rate: 7.4

Labor Force: 1,904

Employed: 1,763

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.4 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.9 (April 2013)

Prev Next

#31 Middletown

Latest Unemployment Rate: 7.5

Labor Force: 7,917

Employed: 7,325

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 13.5 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.1 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#30 Portsmouth

Latest Unemployment Rate: 7.6

Labor Force: 9,362

Employed: 8,651

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.5 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.6 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#28 (Tie) Bristol

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.0

Labor Force: 12,455

Employed: 11,457

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.6 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.6 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#28 (Tie) Westerly

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.0

Labor Force: 11,917

Employed: 10,961

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.2 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.8 (September 2012)

Prev Next

#27 Smithfield

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.3

Labor Force: 11,781

Employed: 10,799

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.4 (August 2011, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 5.7 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#25 (Tie) Foster

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.4

Labor Force: 2,701

Employed: 2,475

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 13.4 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.9 (June 2012)

Prev Next

#25 (Tie) N. Smithfield

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.4

Labor Force: 3,014

Employed: 2,818

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 9.8 (August 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.4 (December 2012)

Prev Next

#23 (Tie) Coventry

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.6

Labor Force: 20,279

Employed: 18,537

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.1 (August 2011, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.1 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#23 (Tie) Cumberland

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.6

Labor Force: 19,055

Employed: 17,422

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.4 (August 2011, July 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.4 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#20 (Tie) Newport

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.7

Labor Force: 12,885

Employed: 11,763

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 14.1 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.2 (September 2012)

Prev Next

#20 (Tie) Warwick

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.7

Labor Force: 46,308

Employed: 42,297

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 9.5 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.4 (August 2011)

Prev Next

#20 (Tie) West Greenwich

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.7

Labor Force: 3,678

Employed: 3,359

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.7 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.6 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#19 East Greenwich

Latest Unemployment Rate: 8.9

Labor Force: 6,784

Employed: 6,178

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.0 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.5 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#15 (Tie) Charlestown

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.0

Labor Force: 4,506

Employed: 4,099

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 14.2 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.1 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#15 (Tie) Lincoln

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.0

Labor Force: 11,781

Employed: 10,717

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.4 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.9 (November 2012, June 2013)

Prev Next

#15 (Tie) South Kingstown

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.0

Labor Force: 16,455

Employed: 14,982

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.6 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.8 (September 2012)

Prev Next

#15 (Tie) Warren

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.0

Labor Force: 5,908

Employed: 5,377

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.0 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.6 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#14 Exeter

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.2

Labor Force: 3,865

Employed: 3,509

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.7 (March 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.6 (September 2011)

Prev Next

#13 Tiverton

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.3

Labor Force: 8,882

Employed: 8,058

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.0 (January, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 7.4 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#10 (Tie) Cranston

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.5

Labor Force: 41,657

Employed: 37,682

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.3 (July 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.8 (April 2013)

Prev Next

#10 (Tie) East Providence

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.5

Labor Force: 24,677

Employed: 22,339

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.6 (January, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.7 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#10 (Tie) West Warwick

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.5

Labor Force: 16,240

Employed: 14,693

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.9 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.4 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#8 (Tie) Hopkinton

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.8

Labor Force: 4,888

Employed: 4,411

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.2 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 6.6 (June 2012)

Prev Next

#8 (Tie) North Providence

Latest Unemployment Rate: 9.8

Labor Force: 18,130

Employed: 16,347

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.3 (August 2011)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.5 (April 2013)

Prev Next

#7 Burrillville

Latest Unemployment Rate: 10.0

Labor Force: 9,526

Employed: 8,570

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.6 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.0 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#6 Scituate

Latest Unemployment Rate: 10.4

Labor Force: 6,166

Employed: 5,527

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.2 (July 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 8.4 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#5 Johnston

Latest Unemployment Rate: 10.5

Labor Force: 15,645

Employed: 14,004

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 12.9 (February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 9.2 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#4 Pawtucket

Latest Unemployment Rate: 11.1

Labor Force: 36,412

Employed: 32,378

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 13.7 (July 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.2 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#3 Woonsocket

Latest Unemployment Rate: 11.2

Labor Force: 20,730

Employed: 18,409

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 13.6 (January 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.7 (June 2013)

Prev Next

#2 Providence

Latest Unemployment Rate: 11.5

Labor Force: 80,605

Employed: 71,362

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 14.3 (August 2011)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 10.4 (May 2013)

Prev Next

#1 Central Falls

Latest Unemployment Rate: 12.1

Labor Force: 8,348

Employed: 7,341

Highest Rate in Last Two Years: 15.3 (January, February 2012)

Lowest Rate in Last Two Years: 11.4 (April 2013)

 
 

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Comments:

joe pregiato

According to the article, the decline was "attributed to a combination of a recovering economy and the homeless system beginning to see the benefits of programs "...Believe me, the economy is not recovering, and since 2007 we are finally seeing the beginning of a benefits program??!!....My bet is that 400 homeless people simply left the state.

Fruma Efreom

Definitions of homeless would surprise most people. There are two sets of definitions and the report does not specify which is being used. By one widely-used standard, two of my three children would have qualified as homeless, in one case long-term homeless at points in their life. Homeless may include "doubled-up" families -- i.e. one of your adult children moves back in with you for a period of time because they lost a job, broke up a relationship and moved out, or are relocating. The major factors in homelessness are mental illness and substance abuse, frequently compounded by criminal records for offenses like shoplifting, prostitution, and breaking and entering. The courts, however, have ruled that mentally ill people do not have to take their medication if they are not a threat to others. Most shelters will not accept active substance abuse users but there are programs to fund "wet shelters" in which people with active problems are allowed to be drunk or high on premises and not participate in treatment programs for as long as they wish. There is at least one wet shelter in Rhode Island, in Newport.

Most of the homeless numbers are derived from people who are chronically homeless -- they recover, take their meds and then "fall out of treatment again." They have already "burned their bridges" with friends and relatives who won't take them in again. Another problem is believe it or not "strict code enforcement" in rental units. While no one wants tenants to live in apartments without working plumbing or other essentials, most of what is involved in code enforcement is trivial, making it more expensive to maintain apartments and thereby making rents more expensive. Anyone who has ever participated in a lengthy code enforcement visit would tell you that few homes or apartments could pass no matter how well kept.

Another issue is lead paint enforcement. Again, no one wants children poisoned by lead paint but most landlords are well advised not to rent to families with children age five or younger or they could be held responsible for a child's lead paint poisoning even if it didn't happen on premises. This can result in Draconian judgements like ripping out all lead plumbing. There is so much lead in the soil in Providence and probably other inner cities that nearly any apartment can test positive for lead unless tenants are meticulous at dusting and vacuuming, something I know I am not.

The image the Providence Journal used for promoting a bond issue of hundreds of millions of dollars for low-income housing had a heart stopping drawing of a young mother huddled under a blanket with her two children. While I'm not saying this can't happen, it is very, very far from typical and is really an attempt to manipulate public opinion. Women with children may be using shelters more, but that may also be because they are more available and they don't want to impose on and fight with family and friends. I'm not saying ignore this issue; I'm saying be realistic about it.




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