News & Event
BY JOAN D. WARREN | email@example.com
Mark Whittaker, a fifth grade teacher at Hampden Meadows School, has rallied students and their families to collect and fill backpacks for the less fortunate.
So far, they have filled 200 backpacks with personal hygiene items, sweatshirts, socks, bottled water, snacks, and other essentials.
On Thursday night at 6 p.m., a volunteer orientation and engagement will be held at Hampden Meadows School. More than 50 volunteers – parents and students – have signed up to distribute the backpacks this Sunday morning, April 8, at the Friendship Breakfast at Mathewson Street UMC in Providence.
“It’s been amazing to see the support roll in,” said Mr. Whittaker. “I’m so excited this is actually happening. I think it’s important that these kids get to see the end game in their volunteer and donation efforts. Hopefully, it will bring more awareness to the problem of homelessness, but more importantly I hope that people will just get to learn a little about each other and share some stories over a meal.”
The entire student body has participated in this community service project.
The HMS student council donated $500 during a whole school service learning assembly and pledged all the proceeds from their used book sale at the school as well.
Another $700 in donations was raised from students and friends to buy the backpacks. Each class signed up to bring in various items.
Scott Budnick, a friend of Mr. Whittaker and one of the founders of the breakfast, is leading the workshop on Thursday night to prepare the volunteers for what to expect on Sunday – he will offer some keys to communicating with homeless folks.
“Essentially, 40 of these volunteers will be sitting down to breakfast with people, just sharing a meal, and then if they are in need, our volunteers can present them with a backpack. The other 10 volunteers will be working in the kitchen to prepare and then serve breakfast along with some of the homeless volunteers there as well,” Mr. Whittaker said.
Every Sunday morning, anywhere from 250 to 350 homeless men and women, gather for a meal at the Friendship Breakfast. Volunteers from all over the state help to procure, prepare, and serve.
The giving season always peaks during the months of November and December, however, February and March can often be difficult for many to get through.
“Last year, we personally delivered 100 backpacks to many of these folks… only to realize that we were about 100 backpacks short. This year, we have an opportunity to have an impact on an entire population of homeless men, women, and children,” Mr. Whittaker said.
Courtesy of the Barrington Times
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
By JOSH BICKFORD | firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Primiano is worried about the schools.
More specifically, the Barrington Town Council member is concerned about how Barrington’s public schools will be impacted by the new Palmer Pointe affordable housing project if the town decides to extend the development a significant tax break.
More than 10 years ago, a prior town council offered a tax abatement to the East Bay Community Development Corporation when it built the Sweetbriar affordable housing project in West Barrington. That development featured 51 rental units and brought dozens of new students to Barrington’s public schools.
Now, EBCDC is on the verge of beginning construction on the Palmer Pointe affordable housing project on Sowams Road. School officials have estimated that the development will bring more than 30 additional students to Barrington schools.
Mr. Primiano said the additional student enrollment is a good reason EBCDC should be required to pay the full property taxes. The council member said he wants to put the tax abatement issue on a future council meeting agenda.
“I would vote against giving it (the tax break) to them. I support the schools,” said Mr. Primiano. “What about the schools? That’s school money we’re talking about. It’s all about schools. That’s what drives our economy.”
The tax deal for Sweetbriar required that EBCC officials pay 8 percent of the annual rents collected at the housing development instead of the full property tax bill.
Sweetbriar has 51 rental units and the monthly rents range from $603 to $943.
In 2016, EBCDC officials collected a gross rental income of $457,428 at Sweetbriar, and their tax bill to the town of Barrington – 8 percent of the grow rental income – totaled $36,594.
In 2017, the rental income for Sweetbriar went up to $463,572. And when the tax bills go out in August, the affordable housing developer will need to pay 8 percent of the income, which equals $37,086.
So how does that compare to other property owner’s tax bills?
Barrington’s current tax rate is $20 per $1,000 of assessed value. The approximate assessed value of the Sweetbriar development is $5.2 million, meaning that without the tax deal, EBCDC would have a tax bill totaling about $104,000 this year.
Barrington resident Gary Morse believes the town is breaking the law when it forces all other property owners to pay the additional $60,000-plus in taxes that are created by EBCDC’s tax abatement.
“It’s clearly illegal,” said Mr. Morse. “Providence is not giving these tax breaks. Cases have established these are illegal for new construction… They all want affordable housing tax breaks – every Democrat on the council is dead-set on granting these developers these tax breaks. What they don’t realize is these are for-profit enterprises.
Mr. Morse is referring to the Sweetbriar Limited Partnership, which operates under the EBCDC umbrella. Mr. Morse said that shortly after a previous council extended the tax abatement to EBCDC, officials from the non-profit moved ownership rights of the affordable housing development to Sweetbriar LP, which is listed as a for-profit entity. (Council members including Michael Carroll and Steve Boyajian said that the move was a necessity for EBCDC to receive federal tax credits.)
Mr. Morse said tax documents from EBCDC show that Sweetbriar LP declared a $174,306 profit in 2016, and a $171,353 profit in 2015.
Why, Mr. Morse questions, should the town be extending a tax deal to a company that is clearing a profit, year after year?
“You have to look at Palmer Pointe the same way you look at Sweetbriar,” said Mr. Morse. “I think the same thing is going to happen with Palmer Pointe. In the case of Palmer Pointe, taxpayers would be subsidizing a waterfront development. We’re effectively enriching the EBCDC group.”
A tax document from 2011 showed that the former executive director for EBCDC was paid more than $100,000 annually. She also received a pension.
Mr. Morse said Sweetbriar LP or a similar limited partnership for Palmer Pointe stands to cash in on the project – Palmer Pointe, like Sweetbriar, will carry a 30-year deed restriction, meaning that the properties must remain “affordable” for that period of time. But before the deed-restrictions ever run out, the owners can sell the properties to real estate investment firms or other companies.
“They (investment companies) know they can hold on to these properties for a long term and then turn them into market rate units,” Mr. Morse said. “These properties become valuable to anyone before the deed restrictions even come off… There is no restriction to turn around and flip them at any time and they can make a profit. This is the scam that is affordable housing.”
Mr. Carroll and Mr. Boyajian do not believe that EBCDC officials have any plans to sell Sweetbriar or Palmer Pointe to investment firms.
Legislation is flawed
Barrington Town Council President Michael Carroll said the town would be following the law if it offers EBCDC a tax deal for the Palmer Pointe development.
He said the town is obligated to offer the tax abatement and he points to a pair of state statutes as the reasons. (Mr. Morse argues that the statutes only require towns to give the tax break to rehabilitated properties and not new constructions such as Sweetbriar and Palmer Pointe.)
The council president said the bigger issue may be the affordable housing legislation, which states that each community’s housing stock include at least 10 percent that is “affordable.” A more recent estimate puts Barrington at about 4 percent, said officials.
“I believe that we want to preserve some housing in Barrington as affordable and I believe that the current act is the wrong way to do it,” Mr. Carroll said.
Mr. Carroll said Barrington offers a unique set of challenges in reaching the 10 percent goal. He said much of the town is built-out and despite a concerted effort to improve the stock of affordable housing, officials would need to build a skyscraper to close the gap. The town’s comprehensive plan would not allow that type of construction in Barrington.
Members of the council recently met with local legislators Jason Knight, Joy Hearn and Cindy Coyne to discuss the affordable housing situation.
“Barrington is not the only one struggling with this act. There are other suburban communities who would like to see some relief,” said Mr. Carroll. “One way is to give extra credit for rental properties – that would give us a boost.”
Mr. Carroll said the state could also give towns that show progress toward reaching the 10 percent mark a slight advantage when they appear before the State Housing Appeals Board.
Mr. Primiano agreed that the affordable housing legislation is a bad fit for communities such as Barrington.
How they would vote
Right now, it is not clear if or when the 8 percent tax deal will appear on a council agenda.
Council member Steve Boyajian said he believes the developer will make the request at some point in the near future, and when they do, he plan to ask for guidance from the town’s solicitor.
“I’m going to ask the town’s lawyers what to do,” he said. “And we’ll go from there.”
Mr. Primiano has already made up his mind.
“I want to make my case that we don’t have to give it to them,” Mr. Primiano said.
Mr. Primiano added that the town has already set a precedent in voting on the potential tax break when the prior council did so more than 10 years ago.
More than a year ago, Mr. Morse filed a lawsuit again the Town of Barrington over the tax abatement issue. A Superior Court judge said Mr. Morse id not have sanding to bring the suit against the town, but the Westwood Lane resident has appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
Courtesy of Barrington Times
Posted: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) - Hundreds of Rhode Island children are starting the school year without a permanent place to live, forcing them to stay with other families, in motels or in the most dire circumstances, on the streets.
But a homeless shelter in Middletown is working to support families by assisting mothers to find jobs and affordable housing while also trying to keep children from falling off track in school.
Lucy's Hearth has been in operation for 33 years, but recently moved into a new building that gives small rooms to 15 families, according to Jennifer Barrera, the organization's program director. Barrera said most families stay in the shelter for between three and six months, although she acknowledged some end up staying longer.
"The best outcomes for us, for the families, are that they achieve permanent affordable housing, that the moms and children, actually the whole family, increases their self-sufficiency," Barrera told Eyewitness News. "So they're getting higher-paying jobs, or they're getting education or training opportunities."
More than 1,000 public school students in Rhode Island were considered homeless during the 2015-16 school year, according to the most recent available data provided to Rhode Island Kids Count, the state's leading child advocacy organization. Providence had the most homeless students (146), but Middletown was second with 117. Only eight communities in the state reported zero homeless kids.
Children who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless, according to the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law passed in 1987. In Rhode Island, 64% of homeless students were "doubled up" with other families, 25% lived in shelters, 10% lived in hotels or motels and 1% were unsheltered in the 2015-16 school year, according to Kids Count.
The federal law also allows students who are considered homeless to remain in their home school districts even if they are living outside the district. In Middletown's case, many children who live at Lucy's Hearth during the spring or summer end up enrolling in the district's public schools.
Barrera said between 40 and 50 children from newborns to 18-year-olds live at Lucy's Hearth. While the facility is in excellent condition, she said the goal is limit the amount time families stay in the shelter.
"Although this is a great facility and we work really hard so that the families are healthy and safe and the children have all of their needs met, they still are experiencing an episode of homelessness," Barrera said. "And children who experience homelessness are at risk for a whole host of other issues, even into their adulthood."
Barrera said most homeless children are at risk of facing additional educational difficulties and more likely to have chronic health conditions like asthma and respiratory issues. She said the shelter works with school districts to provide transportation and tutoring to those in need.
She said many of the families that come to Lucy's Hearth have faced significant trauma, including family separation, violence and substance abuse. At the same time, the cost of housing has a continued to grow. A single parent earning the minimum wage would need to work 81 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
And some of the biggest consequences from being homeless can be felt in school. Barrera said teachers see kids who are sleeping in different places every night, are hungry and aren't dressed properly, making it difficult for students to focus on classroom work.
"Homelessness affects all of us and even if you don't know what it means to be homeless or you know someone who is homeless or you see a panhandler on the street, homelessness for children is a great problem," Barrera said.
Barrera said the most important thing adults can do to help homeless families is get involved through donations to shelters or volunteering their time. Donations to Lucy's Hearth can be made here.
Courtesy of WPRI 12
Pleased by the favorable reception the Planning Board gave the Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing development on May 9, the members of the Block Island Housing Board turned toward implementing that project and others at their May 15 meeting.
“We were thrilled with the Planning Board's support, and look forward to their decision,” Housing Board Chair Cindy Pappas said. The five-home subdivision off Cooneymus Road has been the target of neighbors' objections throughout the permitting process.
Once the Planning Board issues a decision — expected at its June meeting — the next pending issue will be preparing Requests for Proposals for construction, Pappas told the Housing Board. She added that Town Manager Ed Roberge has volunteered to help, drawing on his expertise in developing RFPs.
An infrastructure RFP comes first, and will include the access road, drainage and septic systems, wells, water lines and other underground utilities.
“We know the road standards,” Pappas continued, referring to engineering protocols for the right of way that will serve the new homes and provide a throughway to abutting properties. The septic system design is done and awaiting approval by the state. Member John Spier advised including the final landscaping in the infrastructure RFP, to ensure that the first site work will not have to be redone at the end. Landscape design has been one of the sticking points with the abutting property owners.
Whether the new homes will use modular or stick-built construction is also yet to be determined. Pappas said she will follow up with a modular home builder in Connecticut, and Spier said he will keep in contact with the project's architect, Frank Karpowicz.
Consulting on Merck project
The Housing Board is working with island property owner Josie Merck on the sale of two existing homes, converting them to affordable housing units in the process. Kim Gaffett represented Merck at the meeting to discuss agreements and covenants that will apply to those homes. The homes will be occupied by the current tenants.
“It's well in Joe [Priestley]'s hands,” Gaffett said, referring to Merck's attorney; “he has all the templates.” Gaffett said some “site-specific” conditions may be added, such as limiting mowing of open space and agreements to share maintenance costs of a well and an access road.
Other provisions could establish precedents for future affordable housing projects on the island: Requiring a homeowners' association be created — even for a two-unit development — with a member of the Housing Board serving as an “arbitrator” between the owners, in Spier's phrase; and allowing the owners' children to inherit the property, with the original covenants and conditions continuing to apply.
“We will say the kids can inherit unless told otherwise,” said Gaffett.
Pappas replied that while the Housing Board hasn't taken a position on inheritance policies, “The point is to keep the house in the affordable pool in perpetuity.”
“That's what we're striving for,” Gaffett said. “We're still optimistic that the details will all work out.” Merck's proposal will go before the Planning Board in June.
The Housing Board commented briefly on two other housing matters. Spier said of a parcel recently acquired from the Ball-O'Brien families, “We'll decide what we want to do, and then find out what we can do.”
Pappas replied that she was “still hoping for a mix of homeownership and rental housing” on that parcel, which is adjacent to the E. Searles Ball rental apartments on West Side Road. Spier noted that “homeownership tends to produce a better neighborhood than just rental.”
Pappas also reported that Town Manager Roberge had recently convened a meeting to talk about housing. “Obviously, the town is very interested in housing issues,” she said, noting the vote at the Financial Town Meeting to issue bonds to construct housing for town employees on the Thomas property across High Street from the Block Island School.
However, the Thomas property is not an affordable housing project as described now, she said.
Courtesy of The Block Island Times
By Christopher Allen
Data reporting that Middletown trails only Providence in the number of students who are classified as “homeless” in Rhode Island was a principal topic at the May 17 Middletown School Committee meeting.
The data, which was disseminated by Rhode Island Kids Count, a child advocacy organization founded in 1994, numbered the amount of homeless Middletown students at 115. But Vice-Superintendent Linda Savastano disputed that number.
“We upload our data every single day,” she said. “Most days, when I pull [data], I’m not seeing a number [as high as 115].”
She said that the number is usually less than 100, which includes students in transition or those who were only in the district for a short period.
Earlier this year, Newport This Week reported a spike in reported homeless students in Newport schools (See “Newport Schools See Spike in Homelessness,” NTW, Jan. 4, 2018). The most recent Kids Count data ranked Newport fifth, after Providence, Middletown, Warwick and Woonsocket.
The committee reported to the council that the current number is 98, in Middletown, who are “identified as homeless or in foster care.” However, according to an email from Kids Count Communications Manager Katherine Chu, their compiled data “no longer includes children in foster care.” These students, under the new Department of Education guidelines, are now listed in a separate category.
“The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) has provisions to protect and support school stability and success of students in foster care,” wrote Chu.
In 2016, the law was amended by Congress, removing “children awaiting foster care” from the definition of “homeless children and youths.”
A majority of these students, Savastano said, are categorized as “doubled-up,” meaning they are living or staying with extended family or friends, adding that because of the transitory state of many students, the number that is reported to the Rhode Island Department of Education tends to fluctuate.
Reporting guidelines changed since the transition from No Child Left Behind, a 2002 law that increased federal oversight of education, to ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) signed in to law in 2015.
“There are very specific defined categories that [Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE)] asks us to report,” Savastano said.
Committee Vice-Chair Theresa Spengler added that although not counted by the state as homeless, children in foster care should be considered in the conversation. “I think it’s important to explain that there are children in foster care. And they do have the right to be educated… Hopefully, it’s a temporary situation, but it may not be. It may be permanent.”
Federal money received as part of the McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act is an important funding source to help the district's population of homeless students, Savastano said, and that because about half of these students are identified as needing special education, state funding according to the current formula is increased in kind.
The federal McKinney-Vento law, passed in 1987, defines homeless children as “those who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.” Examples beside being doubled-up include children residing in motels, trailers or temporary shelters.
Reached by phone, RIDE Communications Officer, Megan Geoghegan, said Middletown is one of five districts that receive grants to assist in servicing their homeless students, along with Newport, North Kingston, Warwick and Woonsocket. “The numbers can fluctuate day to day,” she said. “Middletown is probably on the higher side because of the shelter.”
McKinney-Vento stipulates that children in temporary housing situations hold the right to attend school either in their home district or in the district they are currently residing in. So, a Middletown student who is living outside of the district still can commute back to Middletown if so chosen.
“Often the advocate wants to keep them here even if they are in another town…they want to keep them in their home school,” Savastano said.
The logistics and cost of moving students transitioning from a district or traveling to their home district can also pose a challenge. According to Geoghegan, DCYF (Department of Child and Family Services) does its best to provide transportation when possible. “But that is not a long-term solution,” she said.
“There are a lot of different categories that people don’t normally think of as homeless,” committee chair Kellie Simeone said. “But that being said, it’s still a bit surprising that we would have the second highest.”
Savastano said that the district will continue to search and apply for every possible federal, state and local grant. The district was awarded a McKinney-Vento Grant of $49,714 during the 2017-2018 school year.
The next school committee meeting is scheduled for June 21.
In other matters
.The committee shared a document containing answers to questions from the Town Council following their joint session on April 28 to discuss the upcoming budget adoption for fiscal year 2018-2019.
The following actions were approved:
.A director of finance policy revision
.Bids for Aquidneck and Forest Avenue shingle roof projects
.Procurement of electricity and natural gas from Direct Energy
.A reduction in force of 12 teachers
Courtesy of Newport This Week
Posted Jan 3, 2018 at 5:09 PM
Updated Jan 3, 2018 at 5:09 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Crossroads Rhode Island will continue to take in sex offenders at a homeless shelter in Cranston under an agreement between the parties to a lawsuit challenging a new state law that limits the number of convicted sex offenders who can be housed in homeless shelters.
The parties met in chambers Wednesday afternoon with U.S. District Court Chief Judge William E. Smith.
According to Lynette Labinger, a lawyer for the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, which brought the lawsuit, Judge Smith recognized that there are significant legal and factual issues that the state has not yet had a chance to address. The parties agreed that while they are developing the legal issues, no one would be turned away as a result of the new law that allows only 10 percent of shelter beds to go to sex offenders, she said.
Crossroads has not been turning anyone away since the law took effect Jan. 1, she said.
The Rhode Island ACLU is seeking to block the state from enforcing the law. The suit was filed last week on behalf of a group of registered sex offenders and the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project.
In court papers, the ACLU faults the law as being aimed at Harrington Hall in Cranston, a state-owned emergency shelter operated by Crossroads on the Pastore campus, that has become a place of last resort for sex offenders whose options for residency have been limited by restrictive residency laws. The hall has 112 beds, and the new law would limit to 11 the number of beds that could go to sex offenders.
The lawsuit charges that the law violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal-protection clause and as well as anti-discrimination laws.
The lawsuit also claims that putting sex offenders on the street will make it more difficult for law enforcement to monitor them; decrease their access to community services and increase the risk to public safety; and, by forcing them to shelter outside during the winter, impose life-threatening conditions on them.
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