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 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.
St. Luke’s Parish in Barrington participates in the Loaves and Fishes Rhode Island ministry which delivers food, clothes and new socks and underwear to the homeless. Recently, the fourth grade class at St. Luke’s School came up with an idea to help this ministry. They decided to change the name of October to Sock-tober, with the ambitious goal of collecting 250 pairs of new socks for the homeless during the month. In 10 days they had collected 275 pairs of socks so they increased the goal to 500. By the end of the month they had collected an amazing and impressive 757 pairs of socks for homeless men, women and children in Rhode Island.
Courtesy of Rhode Island Catholic
Saturday, January 20, 2018
She says while they know the solution to homelessness is housing, the Rhode Island economy makes it difficult because housing prices are high, and vacancy rates are extremely low, which drives the cost of hosing up even further.
Another challenge for helping the homeless population in Rhode Island is funding.
Wilcox says while Crossroads does receive state and federal money, “hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and federal funding cuts have significantly reduced the amount of aid available for 2018 and beyond.”
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
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