RI’s Homeless Numbers Climb by More Than Ten Percent
Wednesday, April 03, 2013
Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH) .
100+ More on the Street
Homeless constituents and advocates are descending on the State House today, calling for solidarity and support in providing relief to a “system bursting at the seams.” The raw data shows the numbers of Rhode Island citizens on the street or without permanent housing, increasing 10.5% from 1,277 in 2012 to 1,411 in 2013, in the latest Point in Time count.
RICH and hundreds of affordable housing and homeless advocates will gather at 2:30 p.m. on the doorstep of the legislature, coming together in the state house rotunda and asking the legislature to honor companion bills, (House - H5554 and Senate - S494) allocating $3.25 million for rental vouchers and emergency winter shelter costs.
We’re not in Kansas anymore
Following the yellow brick road to success, and using the Wizard of Oz as their theme, the Coalition and their contingent will release the most recent numbers of homelessness in the state, reminding elected officials that “there’s no place like home.”
Additionally, advocacy groups are asking for action in addressing the troubling trend of yearly increases in homelessness by adequately funding Opening Doors Rhode Island, the state’s plan to end homelessness. Consistent with the new federal plan to end homelessness, the plan seeks to sharply decrease the numbers of people experiencing homelessness and the length of time people spend homeless.
Dr. Eric Hirsch, Professor at Providence College and Chair of the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) Committee, will present the recent Point-in-Time numbers and the 2012 Annual Statistics. Both measurements showing troubling 10% increase from the previous year. The Annual Statistics also show increases from 2011 to 2012 for children, families and veterans entering homelessness.
The Point-in-Time Count, which is conducted every January, is a tally of who is homeless on a given night and provides a snapshot of who experiences homeless throughout the year. The Point-in-Time Count is a one-day, statistically reliable, unduplicated count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless individuals and families in the state.
The Annual Statistics also found increases across the board including:
- 10.4% increase in the overall number of homeless from 4,410 in 2011 to 4,868 in 2012
- 12.6% increase in homeless families from 602 in 2011 to 678 in 2012
- 16.9% increase in homeless children from 1,092 in 2011 to 1,277 in 2012
- 23% increase for homeless veterans from 243 in 2011 to 299 in 2012
Hirsch credits the economy and "unaffordable" housing market for the increase in homelessness in Rhode Island stating, “It is actually, tragically simple, the need has grown while resources have dwindled. Those Rhode Islanders that are still experiencing the economic downturn, the underemployed and the unemployed, have begun to run out of their resources and that, combined with cut backs in state and federal funding, leads to more homelessness.”
Hirsch will supply data from the recent report, Out of Reach 2013, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition which shows that affordable rental housing remains out of reach for average Rhode Islanders and that our state continues to have one of the highest rental costs in the country, coming in at number seventeen. Out of Reach found that in Rhode Island, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $945 (up from $924 in 2012). In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $3,151 monthly or $37,813 annually.
“We hear so much about economic recovery but if you look at our numbers you can honestly say Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness aren’t seeing any recovery,” said Jim Ryczek, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “Sadly, the state’s financial response has not kept up with the need. In the past five years we have witnessed a 24% increase in Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness but the funding has not kept up with the need. This legislative session we can reverse that trend and begin to address the problem by supporting this important legislation.”
A Five Year Plan
The plan proposes to finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in five years and to prevent and end all homelessness among Veterans in the state in the same time period. It also outlines strategies to substantially decrease the numbers of homeless families and young people and to end this homelessness in ten years. Finally, the plan will reduce all other homelessness in the state and establish the framework for system transformation that will reduce the numbers of people who experience homelessness for the first time.
“At the end of the day we want all the state’s Dorothys to find their way home and to have the opportunity to realize that, indeed, there is no place like home,” said Ryczek.
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