More homeless families have taken up residence in Warwick hotels even though Mayor Frank Picozzi said he remains in the dark over how either the governor or the Department of Housing and its director …
More homeless families have taken up residence in Warwick hotels even though Mayor Frank Picozzi said he remains in the dark over how either the governor or the Department of Housing and its director Josh Saal plans to provide shelter to homeless living outdoors or in cars.
Picozzi said Tuesday he was appreciative to be informed that 30 families under the supervision of Amos House would be staying at the Extended Stay America in Metro Center. He said he was told that many of these families have jobs and cars. He pointed out this is different from the homeless being housed at Motel 6 through March of next year under a state contract with Thrive Behavioral Health that is based in Warwick. At Motel 6 the homeless are provided individual rooms. Under its $876,000 contract, Thrive has 40 rooms.
Picozzi posted on social media the arrival of the additional homeless families. He said he a strong response from people wanting to help and looking to provide food and clothing to the families.
The following explanation of why Extended Stay is being used as temporary housing was released by a spokesman for the Department of Housing: “A sprinkler burst that occurred last Friday (11/18) at the former Memorial Hospital site in Pawtucket caused flooding in an area that is being utilized as shelter space for individuals experiencing homelessness. The Administration immediately deployed the Department of Housing and Rhode Island Emergency Management to the site to survey the damage and support recovery efforts with the shelter provider and building management. Approximately 30 households were safely placed at the Extended Stay in Warwick as crews continue to work to repair the damage. We thank Mayor Picozzi, the City of Warwick, and our partners at Amos House for their fast action and partnership in ensuring these households’ access to safe shelter and support services was not further disrupted.”
But for a comprehensive plan to house the more than 400 homeless on the streets, the mayor said he didn’t answers from the governor’s office nor did he hear from Director Saal.
In a related development, the Cranston City Council in a tie vote, meaning the resolution failed, rejected an appeal for the state to deny the placement of temporary deployable units at housing at the Pastore Center. The state has been looking at Pallet Houses to provide the homeless with a bed, heat and a safe place to live and keep their belongings. The units would be within walking distance of restrooms and showers as well as food.
Margaux Morisseau, Deputy Director at the RI Coalition to End Homelessness, told the Cranston Council that the units are a great solution to address the homeless crisis. At a Nov. 3 discussion on the resolution, 425 individuals were sleeping outside in Rhode Island that night. As of Monday night, that number increased to 482 and the weather was expected to drop to 32 degrees.
Morisseau said individuals living in tents may be afraid to leave and are missing critical life supports because their belongings might be taken. She added that families may be afraid to go to a family shelter because the oldest child is usually separated – making the oldest child go to a different shelter. There are also those who are animal lovers and will stay outside with their pet, she said.
“There has been a lot of dangerous rhetoric that’s gone on with this resolution. [It’s] one that paints unhoused individuals with dangerous broad brushed terms, such as drug addicts and sex offenders,” Laura Jaworski, executive director of House of Hope CDC, told the Cranston Council.
House of Hope, a Warwick-based nonprofit, employs the largest street-based outreach team in the state. Each year, the organization serves over 1,000 individuals who are experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity, Jaworski said.
Cranston Councilman Matt Reilly observed Governor McKee stated Cranston is doing its fair share, as the city houses the largest men's shelter in the state.
Reilly said the resolution is meaningless and the governor can do what he wants – the document merely sends the message to the state that “we don't want anymore.” He noted that there are 38 other cities and towns that could offer assistance so Cranston’s residents and public safety services in that area of the city are not overburdened.
“There are only so many services that can go around,” said Reilly. “Cranston can’t do it all.”
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