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PROVIDENCE – Sen. Jack F. Reed announced $5.8 million for Rhode Island homeless assistance programs on Wednesday.
The funds come from Continuum of Care grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and will be used to support 38 homeless assistance projects around the state.
“This federal funding will help fund rapid rehousing and permanent housing for homeless persons and families in need. Helping people who are experiencing homelessness, or on the brink of homelessness, get access to shelter, care and supportive services can save lives and save taxpayer dollars. Whether it’s helping a homeless veteran who is struggling with PTSD or a family that is facing an eviction and at risk of becoming homeless, these grants help stabilize vulnerable individuals and families. We are committed to preventing and ending homelessness throughout the state, and these federal funds are vital to keeping that commitment,” said Reed in a statement.
The grants will be coordinated by Rhode Island Housing and jointly administered by nonprofits throughout the state. The funds will be used to offer a variety of housing and services as well as to support new projects.
State and local homeless projects receiving the competitive federal grants include:
Chris Bergenheim is the PBN web editor.
Courtesy of Providence Business News
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development today awarded a record $2 billion to support more than 7,300 local homeless assistance programs across the nation. HUD's Continuum of Care grants provide critically needed support to local programs on the front lines of serving individuals and families experiencing homelessness. View a complete list of all the state and local homeless projects awarded funding.
Due to the last year's devastating hurricanes, HUD extended the application deadline for communities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands until February 16, 2018.
HUD continues to challenge state and local planning organizations called "Continuums of Care" to support their highest performing local programs that have proven most effective in meeting the needs of persons experiencing homelessness in their communities. Many of these state and local planners also embraced HUD's call to shift funds from existing underperforming projects to create new ones that are based on best practices that will further their efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
"HUD stands with our local partners who are working each and every day to house and serve our most vulnerable neighbors," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. "We know how to end homelessness and it starts with embracing a housing-first approach that relies upon proven strategies that offer permanent housing solutions to those who may otherwise be living in our shelters and on our streets."
Matthew Doherty, Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness added, "Continuums of Care are critical leaders in the work to end homelessness nationwide. When communities marshal these--and other local, state, private, and philanthropic resources--behind the strongest housing-first practices, we see important progress in our collective goal to end homelessness in America."
HUD Continuum of Care grant funding supports a broad array of interventions designed to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness, particularly those living in places not meant for habitation, located in sheltering programs, or at imminent risk of becoming homeless. Each year, HUD serves more than a million people through emergency shelter, transitional, and permanent housing programs.
Last month, HUD reported homelessness crept up in the U.S., especially among individuals experiencing long-term chronic homelessness. HUD's 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress found that 553,742 persons experienced homelessness on a single night in 2017, an increase of .7 percent since last year. Homelessness among families with children declined 5.4 percent nationwide since 2016, local communities report the number of persons experiencing long-term chronic homelessness and Veterans increased. HUD's 2017 homeless estimate points to a significant increase in the number of reported persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness, particularly in California and other high-cost rental markets experiencing a significant shortage of affordable housing.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all.
More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet
at www.hud.gov and https://espanol.hud.gov.
You can also connect with HUD on social media and follow Secretary Carson on Twitter and Facebook or sign up for news alerts on HUD's Email List.
The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness coordinates and catalyzes the federal response to homelessness, working in close partnership with senior leaders across 19 federal agencies. By organizing and supporting state such as governors, mayors, and local planners. USICH drives action to achieve the goals of the federal strategic plan to prevent and homelessness, in order to ensure that homelessness in America is ended once and for all.
Courtesy of HUD
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza today announced funding opportunities for residents looking for both down payment assistance for home purchases and loans for home repairs.
“The City of Providence is making significant investments in its homeowners and homebuyers,” said Elorza. “We are building stronger communities by offering these loans and assistance programs and would like for eligible residents to take advantage of them.”
Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships funding through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have become integral tools in the redevelopment of communities in Providence and have emerged as a supplemental tool to the EveryHome program, aimed at eliminating abandoned properties in Providence.
“For many, the American Dream has been home ownership,” said Acting City Council President Sabina Matos. A significant barrier to home ownership is often having enough money for the down payment or being able to cover closing costs. With this funding from the CDBG and HUD, qualified residents will be able to gain access to funds that will help them achieve their goal of home security.”
Each year, the city receives funding from the federal government to help revitalize local communities by providing safe housing, suitable living environments and expanded economic opportunities, principally for low and moderate-income residents. This funding allows the City to provide grants for Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance, administered by the Housing Network of Rhode Island, and Home Repair programs through the City’s Community Development Division.
“The Housing Network of Rhode Island is pleased to be partnering with the City of Providence again to offer this program,” said Melina Lodge, Executive Director of the Housing Network of Rhode Island. “Access to Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance is an important tool for putting homeownership opportunities within reach of low-income residents and we commend the mayor’s leadership in making this investment.”
Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance is a deferred-payment loan to cover down-payment or closing costs. Assistance is available to homebuyers that meet HUD income limits who purchase a 1-3 family home or condominium. Loans are affordability-restricted and properties must be the owners’ primary residences.The program is also restricted to those who can commit to staying in the property for at least five years.
The Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance program is scheduled to launch on January 15, 2018. Funding is extremely limited and will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis to eligible households. Applications are available online through the Housing Network of Rhode Island or in person by visiting the Housing Action Coalition of RI at 1070 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI.
The CDBG Home Repair Loan Program, made possible with the support of the Providence City Council, helps qualified homeowners perform a variety of home improvement projects, including emergency roof replacements, heating system replacements (in some cases, clients living without heat) and correction of code violations.
All funding assistance is in the form of a 0% interest, deferred payment loan for up to $25,000. Payment becomes due upon sale, change of primary residence, refinancing with cash out, debt consolidation or transfer of the property title.
Applications for the Home Repair Program are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis unless an emergency situation exists that warrants prioritization (ex. no heat, no running water). Applications are available online through the City’s Division of Community Development or in person by visiting the Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building at 444 Westminster Street, Providence, RI.
Homelessness in Rhode Island is on the rise. The state saw a 1.7 percent increase in homelessness this year according to a new report by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Statewide, 1,180 people experienced homelessness on a single day earlier this year. Nearly 400 were children in homeless families; almost 100 were veterans. Of even greater concern, Rhode Island’s chronically homeless population nearly doubled, increasing from 136 to 240.
After years of successfully reducing homelessness, Rhode Island’s homeless numbers are heading in the wrong direction. The solution to ending homelessness is actually pretty simple. Our “Housing First” model effectively gets people off the streets, out of shelter — and into permanent, affordable housing with the support services necessary to help them remain housed. Unfortunately, Rhode Island simply does not have enough housing that is affordable and meets people's needs.
Fortunately, social service agencies like Crossroads Rhode Island step in to bridge the gap. But hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal funding cuts, including the loss of Housing Stabilization dollars through Medicaid, Road Home and the Neighborhood Opportunities Program, are significantly reducing the amount of aid available for 2018 and beyond.
It’s the chronically homeless, the state’s most vulnerable population, who are likely to pay the price. Many of these individuals struggle with physical and mental illness, hunger and poverty — fighting every day just to survive. Without adequate funding for housing and support programs, they will end up back on the street, sleeping in doorways, camping under highway overpasses or staying in shelters.
Recently, 283 people slept in a Crossroads shelter, including 53 children in 27 families. Others sought refuge at different shelters — or bundled up in outdoor places where no one should have to spend a cold, winter night.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but helping those people find permanent housing solutions will ultimately cost taxpayers far less than keeping them in shelters. Research shows that the chronically homeless are much higher users of Medicaid, police, fire and rescue and other services.
A 2013 study of 67 chronically homeless Rhode Island Medicaid users revealed charges of $59,651 per person, more than double Medicaid charges for the average housed, disabled adult. In fact, over the course of 26 months, those 67 individuals cost the state $9.3 million in Medicaid costs alone.
Over the last three years, Crossroads helped more than 3,000 people move into permanent housing—and stay there. Several had been living in shelters for 10 years or more. Ten years. Let that sink in. Imagine how much it cost taxpayers to shelter those individuals for more than a decade, never mind what it would be like to live in a homeless shelter for that long.
The bottom line is that programs like “Housing First” save more taxpayer dollars than reducing funding. Working together, we can reduce the number of men, women and children experiencing homelessness, help save taxpayer dollars and find every Rhode Islander a safe place to call home this holiday season.
— Karen Santilli is president and CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island.
Courtesy of Providence Journal
By ARTHUR ALLEN and LORRAINE WOELLERT
12/06/2017 05:49 PM EST Updated 12/07/2017 11:52 AM EST
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has killed a plan to shift money from a major homelessness program in response to a wave of protest from veterans' advocates, who said the move would aggravate conditions for chronically ill and vulnerable vets.
Advocates for veterans, state officials and even officials from HUD, which co-sponsors the $460 million program, had attacked the decision, saying the service has helped dramatically reduce homelessness among veterans. After POLITICO published a story about their anger, Shulkin reversed course late Wednesday.
"There will be absolutely no change in the funding to support our homeless program," he said in a news release, adding that the money would not be shifted to the Choice program, which enables veterans to get health care outside the VA system.
Shulkin promised to get input from local VA leaders and others "on how best to target our funding to the geographical areas that need it most."
The announcement came after a confusing week of messaging from the VA. On Nov. 27, Shulkin and HUD Secretary Ben Carson appeared at a Washington shelter to tout President Donald Trump's commitment to ending veteran homelessness.
Then on Dec. 1, Shulkin's staff told advocates on a phone call that the agency was ending the program--one of two major VA homelessness projects-- and funneling the money to local VA hospitals that could decide how to use it. The original VA decision was buried in a September circular without prior consultation with HUD or veterans’ groups.
A person involved with the program said the decision to cut it was made with no input from rank-and-file VA or HUD staff and surprised even employees at the VA.
Shulkin's reversal also came after HUD on Wednesday released its annual survey showing a 1.5 percent increase in veteran homelessness over 2016 — the first rise since 2010. Most of the jump occurred in Los Angeles, where housing costs are skyrocketing.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who sits on a veterans' affairs subcommittee, had called the earlier VA decision "a new low" for the Trump administration that was "especially callous and perplexing" in view of the latest data on homelessness.
Murray and the 13 other members of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction-VA Subcommittee had asked the VA to reconsider its decision.
HUD data show there were nearly 40,000 homeless veterans in 2016, and even those with housing still need assistance. The program has reduced the number of displaced service members, serving 138,000 since 2010, and cut the number without housing on a given day by almost half. More than half the veterans housed are chronically ill, mentally ill or have substance abuse problems.
They can easily lose their housing again and need VA case managers to mediate with landlords, pay bills, and help them access the agency’s services and jobs, said Matt Leslie, who runs the housing program for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services.
“The people in this program are the most vulnerable individuals,” Leslie said. “If someone’s going to die on the streets, they are the ones.”
Veteran and homeless advocates were infuriated by the VA's original decision.
"I don’t understand why you are pulling the rug out," Elisha Harig-Blaine, a National League of Cities housing official who was on last Friday's call, said in an interview afterward. "You're putting at risk the lives of men and women who've served this country."
“The VA is taking its foot off the pedal,” said Leon Winston, an executive at Swords to Plowshares, which helps homeless vets in San Francisco, where he said the VA decision is already having an impact. HUD recently put up 100 housing vouchers for veterans in the program, but the local VA hospital said it could only provide support for 50.
Agency spokesman Curtis Cashour said Tuesday that the move gave VA medical centers more flexibility to "ensure resources go where they best align with veterans’ needs.”
The decision would have affected $265 million immediately and $195 million more under the VA’s 2018 budget. Under the program, HUD offers housing vouchers for veterans, and the VA provides case management — finding them apartments and making sure they stay there.
At the Nov. 27 event, Shulkin and Carson said Trump was increasing funding for veteran’s homelessness. They promised to help every veteran find a home.
When asked about the administration’s budget, which still includes no additional vouchers for the hard-case veterans, Carson said HUD had “excess vouchers. When we use those, we’ll look for more,” he said.
“The old paradigm of dumping money on problems doesn’t work,” Carson added.
Some communities have excess vouchers, but many more don’t have enough, said Harig-Blaine, who is also a member of Shulkin's advisory committee for homelessness. Even in cities where there are excess vouchers, they exist only because the voucher community can’t compete with private market rents, he said — not because there aren’t homeless veterans there.
Advocates had said cuts to the homelessness program would be doubly foolish because the chronically homeless veterans it serves typically cost cities and the health care system hundreds of thousands of dollars for emergency room visits, ambulance runs and jailings that could be avoided if the veterans were reasonably sheltered.
“These are the kinds of veterans it deals with,” said Kathryn Monet, CEO of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.
Renuka Rayasam contributed to this report.
Courtesy of POLITICO
by MARIO HILARIO, NBC 10 NEWS
Saturday, December 9th 2017
The head of a local veterans group is disputing the latest government report about homelessness in Rhode Island.
Specifically, Operation Stand Down Rhode Island Executive Director Erik Wallin says the number of homeless veterans in the Ocean State is under-represented in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s annual Point-In-Time Estimates of Homelessness.
The recently released report says there are currently 95 homeless veterans in Rhode Island.
Wallin argues that number is much higher.
"We serve hundreds and hundreds of veterans through Operation Stand Down that are literally homeless each year, and frankly, I believe over the course of a year, there are thousands of veterans in Rhode Island moving in and out of a state of homelessness," he told NBC 10 News in an interview Saturday.
Wallin says because Point-In-Time is a count on a single night, which is a snapshot, but does not accurately reflect the extent of the problem.
"Veterans don't want to go to shelters. They don't want to go where there are groups of nonveterans. Many veterans who are homeless are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or other invisible scars of war. So, they're going to try to stay away from those areas, and they're just not being counted," said Wallin, adding that he’s concerned a number that’s far lower than the reality will lead to complacency.
"And then both our elected officials and the community which we rely on heavily for support, think the problem is solved," he said.
Eric Hirsch, the chairman of the steering committee for the Homeless Management Information System, which collects data on persons entering and exiting the homeless provider network across the state, told NBC 10 on Saturday that he concurs with Wallin's comments. Hirsch added he believes the HUD report under-represents the homeless population in general as it does not take into account people who are living with friends or relatives because they don’t have a permanent home.
Hirsch said the problem of homelessness will not improve in Rhode Island until there is more permanent and affordable housing for those who need it.
Courtesy of Turn to 10
Last month, a bill that would cap the proportion of registered sex offenders in homeless shelter beds at 10 percent for shelters whose capacity exceeds 50 people passed in the Rhode Island State House. A coalition of activists are now asking via petition that Gov. Gina Raimondo veto the bill, arguing that the legislation is “against the public interest.”
The bill passed the state Senate in June after the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended it for passage. The bill was passed in concurrence by the Rhode Island House of Representatives Sept. 19, and the veto petition was sent to Raimondo Sept. 26.
Seven individuals, including several directors of homeless shelters and non-profits, co-signed the petition to the governor. Forty to 50 individuals will be displaced if the bill is passed, which would create a public safety concern both for the displaced individuals, as well as the larger community, according to the petition. If passed, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and the petitioners note that this would leave people homeless in the dead of winter. This would also increase risks of recidivism, petitioners say.
Perceptions of the bill are sharply polarized, and while detractors argue that the legislation jeopardizes public safety, supporters say the bill actually defends it.
State Sen. Frank Lombardi, D-Cranston, is a co-sponsor of the bill and introduced it alongside State Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston. Cranston is the location of Rhode Island’s largest homeless shelter, Harrington Hall. Harrington has 112 beds which are open to single men. “Harrington Hall has the highest number per capita of registered sex offenders transported there at any given time in the state of Rhode Island,” Lombardi said. This disproportionate concentration of sex offenders in a single neighborhood was the impetus for the bill especially because “the residence hall surrounds at least three elementary schools,” he said.
The question of appropriate maintenance of distance between schools and sex offenders is no new issue in Rhode Island. Convicted sex offenders have been restricted from living closer than 300 feet from any school property since 2008, The Providence Journal reported. In June 2015, the General Assembly expanded this to 1,000 feet for Level III sex offenders — those most likely to re-offend. This law placed 64 percent of Providence off-limits to these registered sex offenders, according to the Journal. In October 2015, the lawsuit Freitas et al. v. Kilmartin was filed challenging the law’s constitutionality as violating due process; after the case was filed, a judge placed a restraining order on the law, effective to this day and as long as the case remains unresolved.
“It’s very sad that we have a significant population of people who are required to register as sex offenders that have no place to live but Harrington Hall,” said Andrew Horwitz, petitioner and assistant dean for experiential education at Roger Williams University. Although the 1,000-foot rule is not in effect, the critics of this bill say that sex offenders do not have options other than Harrington Hall because of policies in other shelters and the 300-foot restriction. “We’ve got such incredible restrictions on where registered sex offenders are allowed to live that pretty much any place in Rhode Island that has affordable housing is off-limits for somebody who is a registered sex offender,” Horwitz added.
Concerning the safety of the public, “what reduces recidivism is stability,” Horwitz said. “When you render somebody homeless” by limiting the number of beds available to them in shelters, “you destabilize them,” he said.
One of the “public safety” concerns in Lombardi’s district is cases of sex offenders being dropped off at the shelter and loitering if no beds were available. He characterized the bill as an “incentive to have all of these homeless shelters share — not overburden Harrington Hall only with registered sex offenders.”
Lombardi had not heard about the petition but was not surprised to learn there was one; “there was a very vibrant debate” in the Senate, he recalled, “given the polarizing issues involved; on one side the issue of public safety and on the other side is the issue of homelessness.” Though he supports the bill, Lombardi recognizes more progress is needed to be made toward finding permanent solutions to homelessness, including for sex offenders. “We need the judiciary, we need law enforcement, we need the public housing folks,” he said.
The petition proposes an alternative path from the bill: a “study commission” that would devote time and resources to considering viable options for housing for registered sex offenders, which could inform future legislation. It also suggests potential amendments to the bill, such as changing the date it would take effect and limiting its applicability to Level III Sex offenders.
Horwitz himself is in favor of building more homeless shelters and having a more decentralized homeless system to relieve Harrington and the neighborhood; but fundamentally he said he views shelters themselves as only rudimentary solutions to homelessness. He would prefer legislation creating more affordable housing and repealing “irrational” housing restrictions to address Harrington’s predicament.
The main plaintiff in Freitas et al. v. Kilmartin, John Freitas, was a Level III sex offender. Barbara Freitas, director of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project and formerly homeless herself, is his widow. She was another of the seven signatories of the petition.
Freitas echoed Horwitz’s concerns. The bill’s “attempt to keep the public safe is failing miserably, because they will end up in the street,” she said. Freitas explained that sex offenders are at least accounted for in a homeless shelter due to the requirement to register. This means that “public safety” is better served by keeping homeless shelters’ numbers of sex offenders uncapped for community members and visitors alike.
Freitas does not expect Raimondo to heed the petition. Freitas says she was part of a previous attempt to convince Raimondo to veto the 300-foot rule, without success. “Nobody wants to have the veto go through about sex offenders. That’s a sure way to have yourself not get elected,” Freitas said.
If the governor were to veto the bill, there would be no effort by the legislative branch to override the veto, according to Lombardi. The bill was transmitted to the governor Oct. 3. She is required to sign or veto legislation within six days of transmittal. The bill is “currently under consideration for action in the coming days,” according to the governor’s press office.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that the bill was passed in the State Senate in May, In fact, it was passed in the State Senate in June. A previous version also contained an incorrect titled for Andrew Horwitz, petitioner and assistant dean for experiential education at Roger Williams University. The Herald regrets the error.
Courtesy of The Brown Daily Herald
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