The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless hosted its Annual Awards Breakfast Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Three hundred people attended, including Attorney General Peter Neronha, Mayor of Warwick Joseph Solomon, Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza,
The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless hosted its Annual Awards Breakfast Monday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Three hundred people attended, including Attorney General Peter Neronha, Mayor of Warwick Joseph Solomon, Mayor of Providence Jorge Elorza, members of the General Assembly and Providence City Council, service providers, activists, and community members. NBC 10 News anchor, Barbara Morse Silva, served as MC.
Mayor Joseph Solomon provided welcome remarks, followed by Mayor Jorge Elorza who emphasized that municipalities must prioritize helping residents experiencing homelessness/housing insecurity rather than driving policies that force people out of the community and into invisibility. Coalition Executive Director Caitlin Frumerie gave a presentation on the state of homelessness in Rhode Island. This illustrated the link between homelessness and a lack of affordable homes and livable wages as well as how lack of housing causes extremely poor health outcomes; people experiencing homelessness have an average life expectancy of 50. The data presented showed that, at the current rate, Rhode Island would end family homelessness in 2025 and individual homelessness in 2054. The presentation concluded with recommendations on how Rhode Island can truly prevent & end homelessness: more investments in preserving and constructing affordable housing, banning legalized discrimination in housing based on source of income, and passing legislation to make Rhode Island a right to shelter and a right to counsel state.
Kasim Yarn, Director of the RI Office of Veteran’s Affairs, gave the keynote address. Director Yarn emphasized the interconnection between education, health care, recovery from addiction, and housing.
He spoke about how stigma, particularly around mental health, is a barrier to ending homelessness that we must remove. Director Yarn ended his address by affirming the need for collective effort and action to end homelessness, and laying a charge on all in attendance to work together in supporting Rhode Islanders in need.
The Coalition honored the work of several advocates, service providers, and organizations. Katie West, Housing Opportunities Manager at Housing Network of Rhode Island, received the Senator Jack Reed Advocacy Award for her noted policy and public advocacy work. Bill Stein LICSW, Associate Director of Clinical Service at House of Hope CDC, received the Sister Carol McGovern Memorial Award for his work providing vital services to Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness. Scott Budnick, founder of Prayer & Friendship Breakfast at Mathewson St United Methodist Church, received the Sister Judy Soares & John Coen Memorial Award for Direct Services for his work providing resources, services, and creating community spaces to help Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness.
The Coalition debuted a new award at this breakfast: The Impact Award, given to community partners for innovative and dedicated work. Crossroads Rhode Island, Providence Housing Authority, and Rhode Island Housing received this award for their work on the 2019 Family Housing Challenge. These organizations secured 38 Housing Choice Vouchers and supportive services for families experiencing homelessness and outreach to landlords with available units, to connect landlords with these potential tenants. This challenge is still ongoing. Interested landlords should contact firstname.lastname@example.org, (401) 721-5685 ext 22.