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RI Homeless Rate Declines, Earns “B” Grade in Prevention

Thursday, February 19, 2015

 

New data released this week by the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless shows that the state’s homeless population has decreased for a second year in a row. 

“The numbers are down but we are far from done,” said Jim Ryczek, the Executive Director of RICH. “We know from the past that now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal in our efforts to end homelessness,” he said, referring to the mid-2000s when Rhode Island cut services to the homeless just before the economic recession hit. “State leaders are looking for cost-savings in the budget, so it is important to understand that housing Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness costs less than relying on shelters that weren’t made for the purpose of housing people. The best way to spend less money on homelessness is to end it.” 

Dr. Eric Hirsch, Professor at Providence College and Chair of the state’s Homeless Management Information System Committee, released the 2014 Annual Statistics showing an 8.5% decrease in the total numbers of homeless Rhode Islanders from 4,447 in 2013 to 4,067 in 2014. This marks the second year Rhode Island saw a decline in its homeless population – 2012 had the highest amount of homelessness in the state, with 4,868.

By The Numbers

The Annual Statistics saw decreases including:

-8.5% decrease in the overall number of homeless from 4,447 in 2013 to 4,067 in 2014
-15.2% decrease in homeless families from 631 in 2013 to 535 in 2014
-11.7% decrease in homeless children from 1,117 in 2013 to 986 in 2014

Dr. Hirsch stated that Rhode Island should take advantage of the reduced number of homeless by investing in housing the homeless. “Shelters are only band-aids,” he says, “When we move people into housing, we see much better outcomes, much more success, and all for much less. People report they don’t get sick as often, they don't get hurt as much; so they don't use ambulances or go to ERs as much either. They have a safe place to keep their stuff for the day, so they're less stressed. All the little things we take for granted in having a home turn out to make a big difference in terms of health and fiscal impact on the State.”

Rhode Island Earns A "B" Grade In Prevention

In addition, Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless released its second Report Card. RICH gives Rhode Island an overall grade of B, showing an improvement from last year’s C+. 

“This is a real improvement,” said Ryczek, “We but we feel that Rhode Island is a state which must continue to work toward an A+ grade.”

Advocates say ttherre is still more work to be done. “At United Way, we hear from Rhode Islanders daily through 2-1-1, our 24-hour information and referral line,” said Anthony Maione, President and CEO of United Way of Rhode Island. “In 2014, we received 110,240 requests for housing and shelter-related needs, up 8% from 2013. We’ve made progress but there is still more to be done, by investing in permanent supportive housing and wrap-around services we can end chronic homelessness in Rhode Island.”

Photo: Franco Folini/Flickr

 

Related Slideshow: 10 Questions Raimondo Has to Answer as Governor

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Moving the needle?

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Will Governor-elect Raimondo get behind RhodeMap RI's vision fully, and how would she address detractors who don't appear to be going away at any point soon?  Given that there will most likely need to be legislative components to implement the plan, watch to see where Raimondo's leadership is on this issue. 
 

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Pension Lawsuit?

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Budget proposal?

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General Assembly?

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Mandate issue?

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Transparency?

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While Raimondo will no longer be calling the shots as the head of the State Investment Commission, all eyes will be her decisions in the Governor's office.  How transparent with the Raimondo administration be with the press-- and the public?
 

 
 

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