News & Event
CUMBERLAND – Operation Stand Down Rhode Island will host its annual Outreach Stand Down Weekend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 14-16, at Diamond Hill Park, 4097 Diamond Hill Road, in Cumberland.
During the weekend, the military style encampment offers veterans access to a variety of service providers offering information on housing, employment, medical and dental, legal services and more.
In 2017, approximately 500 homeless and at-risk veterans attended Stand Down Weekend.
OSDRI is currently seeking tent sponsorships of the provider service tents. Sponsorships are $250, with proceeds helping to offset the cost of delivering services to local veterans in need. Sponsors’ company name and logo will be featured on the service provider tent and the event banner. For more information, contact Jessica Miller at Jmillser@osdri.org.
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Burrillville Air Force veteran Thomas Bousquet receives a free flu shot at the annual Outreach Stand Down Weekend presented by Operation Stand Down Rhode Island last Friday, Sept. 14, at Diamond Hill Park. The three-day event offered veterans access to a variety of services including information on housing, employment, medical, dental, mental health, legal and financial services. Administering the flu shot is Luke Rock, a registered nurse at the VA Hospital in Providence.
Dental hygienist Stephanie Bursell, of Hopkinton, cleans the teeth of veteran Joseph Allard of Portsmouth.
Combat boots and American flags are set in a memorial to America’s fallen heroes.
America’s military veterans wait in line for a free meal of chicken and vegetables. Last year approximately 500 homeless and at-risk veterans attended the Operation Stand Down Weekend.
Johnson & Wales culinary students, Kenna Seeley, Carissa Brand and Miles Chabarria, prepare potatoes for the free hot meal being served.
Co-found of R.I. Operation Stand Down Tony DeQuattro, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps sits with Paul Swart, a local volunteer.
Army veteran Melissa Chen looks for a free coat among those donated to Operation Stand Down Rhode Island.
PROVIDENCE – As part of its mission to build vibrant and sustainable communities, Rhode Island Housing, joined by Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, last week announced the relaunch of its popular “First Down” program, which provides $7,500 in down payment assistance to eligible first-time homebuyers purchasing a home in one of the Rhode Island communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.
To date, more than 280 Rhode Islanders have taken advantage of the First Down program, and with this expansion, R.I. Housing expects to help an additional 800 families. First Down targets the six Rhode Island communities most affected by the foreclosure crisis: Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Warwick, Cranston and East Providence.
For more information on the First Down program, including eligibility guidelines and a list of participating lenders, call 401-457-1157 or visit www.firstdownRI.org .
By Amanda Milkovitz / Journal Staff Writer
Posted Sep 16, 2017 at 9:58 PM
Updated Sep 16, 2017 at 9:58 PM
Some 500 veterans attended the Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island outreach event at Diamond Hill State Park.
CUMBERLAND, R.I. — They served their country — some decades ago, some just recently, and some who deployed again and again.
And when they returned, some of them disappeared into the shadows of society and ended up on the streets, struggling and feeling forgotten by a public that claims to honor its veterans.
This is what three Vietnam veterans from Rhode Island — Tony DeQuattro, Robert O’Connor and Jack Ordner — saw happening to fellow servicemen and women decades ago. And, DeQuattro said Saturday, he was tired of waiting for the government to help.
So, 25 years ago, the three men held the first Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island outreach event. They set up a military-style tent city at the old Ladd School, in Exeter, and bused in homeless and at-risk veterans to spend the weekend, getting free medical and legal care, haircuts, and services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Forty veterans came to that first event.
This weekend, it was more like 500. And at Diamond Hill State Park, where the event has been held for the last 23 years, the number of volunteers and services have also expanded to help homeless veterans.
RIPTA and shuttle buses brought in veterans from all across the state. The District Court and Traffic Tribunal set up tents to help veterans deal with court costs, expungements and traffic violations, while the state Department of Motor Vehicles assisted them with reinstating licenses. Veterans could get haircuts, dental care, medical and mental health services, check if they have unclaimed property, and pick up clothing.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Brig. Gen. Christopher P. Callahan of the R.I. National Guard and other Rhode Island dignitaries served meals. The veterans slept on fresh bedding and cots in tents named for fallen Rhode Island servicemen and women. Rhode Island motorcycle clubs provided security; most have members who are veterans.
The setting was meant to invoke memories of their military service, when they were treated with dignity and respect. In military terms, “stand down” means safety and rest.
Over the last 25 years, the need hasn’t changed, DeQuattro said. If anything, it’s grown with each new war.
So has Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island. The nonprofit organization now helps about 2,000 homeless and at-risk veterans find housing, employment and help with veterans benefits year-round.
DeQuattro’s youngest daughter, Dee DeQuattro Rothermel, was only 4 years old when it started, and she remembers playing with other children who came with their veteran parents. She realized as she grew older that those families were probably homeless.
Now communications and development director for Operation Stand Down, DeQuattro Rothermel said the event is still a family affair. She met her husband, David Rothermel, a Marine, when he arrived at an outreach seven years ago and asked to volunteer. The couple came up with the “Boots on the Ground” memorial two years ago, as a way to honor the fallen.
“My dad is very modest, but it’s a huge thing that he started 25 years ago,” she said. “We’re proud of him. It’s an accomplishment.”
DeQuattro spoke to the gathering of veterans at a ceremony Saturday afternoon.
“I do it because God told me to,” DeQuattro told them, “and because we have to take care of our brothers and sisters.”
By NICOLE DOTZENROD, Valley Breeze Staff Writer
LINCOLN – The “Lincoln Lofts,” proposed to transform the former Sayles Mill building off Walker Street into apartments, moved forward in the planning process Tuesday night after the Lincoln Zoning Board agreed to grant parking relief to the project.
The developer, Dakota Partners of Waltham, Mass., came before the Zoning Board to apply for dimensional variance for parking relief to renovate the former factory building at 90 Industrial Circle into 45 units of affordable housing. Lincoln’s Technical Review Committee members recently called the mill complex “the Wild West for parking,” but recommended the approval of the application on the basis that the proposed ratio of 1.67 parking spaces per unit, or 75 spaces total, would be enough to accommodate the needs of future residents.
Under the town’s current regulations, 45 units of housing would require 90 parking spaces. The Zoning Board approved the developer’s application for a parking variance, bringing the required number of parking spaces down to 75 total, or 1.67 spaces per unit, due to lack of space for additional parking on the property.
Rio Sacchetti, a project manager for Dakota Partners, said market-rate rent is usually one parking space per unit, and affordable housing is usually .8, according to data by Rhode Island Housing. Board member John Barr noted that Lincoln has a very limited bus service, and that the RIH numbers may be based on the state’s urban areas and may not be applicable to this project.
“We originally proposed 64 spaces, and after meeting with the town planner, zoning official and Technical Review Committee, we came up with a parking formula based on the 100 percent affordable housing, which uses the number of bedrooms,” said Mary Shekarchi, attorney for the applicant.
Shekarchi said she worked with town officials on the formula, which essentially grants two cars for each of the project’s 30 two-bedroom units, and one car for the 15 one-bedroom units.
The developer was also granted relief from the town’s requirement that parking spaces be 9 by 20 feet.
The town’s definition of a parking space was originally 9 feet by 18 feet at the inception of this application back in 2006, Zoning Board Chairman David DeAngelis said.
“Since time has progressed, your application outgrew the ordinance, which is now nine by 20,” said DeAngelis.
Shekarchi and Sacchetti said parts of the property are environmentally contaminated, and that the 75 parking spaces were the best they can do while maintaining green space for residents.
“There were not great areas to add parking and have the green space around the building for quality of life of future residents,” Sacchetti said. “We don’t want people to be parking on the street … we don’t want a headache.”
Contamination on the site will be addressed as part of construction and paid for by Dakota Partners. The company will have to remove between one and two feet of existing soil and replace it with fill.
The cost of the environmental mitigation, according to Shekarchi, “is a moving target, but it’s going to be quite expensive … hundreds of thousands if not more.”
Parking relief aside, the project did not require any zoning relief concerning the conversion of the actual building into affordable housing. The property is owned by AF Homes LLC and under agreement with Dakota Partners, with Dakota planning to close on the property by early next year. This is Dakota’s first project in Rhode Island.
As an affordable housing project, units will be restricted to people making at or below a certain income, and/or rent-restricted. Rent is expected to be in the $800-$900 range for a one-bedroom, and $900-$1,000 for a two-bedroom unit, with heat and hot water included. The project will be required to meet HUD’s Section 8 Housing requirements.
A second-story bridge connecting 90 Industrial Circle to the building behind it will be taken down, while a shared loading dock will be removed and replaced with green space. The building is currently completely vacant, last used as commercial/light industrial space, and has fallen into disrepair.
Two individuals spoke out with concerns about the property’s current state at Tuesday’s meeting, including Bill McManus of Rockridge Road, who said, “the renderings of this plan look very nice, but the physical condition of the property has been a serious issue for many years. It’s a dumping ground for people to dispose unwanted trash, box springs and mattresses, TVs … it’s a health hazard.”
McManus asked that the board recommend that prior to any consideration of approval, the area be cleared of trash, mattresses and furniture.
“As a zoning board we can’t do that,” DeAngelis said, adding that he would ask someone from the town to look into the situation.
Jean Birchell of Smithfield Avenue, where properties back up to the mill, echoed the concerns of McManus.
“If you stop at the light at Walker Street you can see the mattresses – there’s 18 of them in all,” she said.
Zoning official Russell Hervieux said AF Homes LLC has been cited several times for the state of the property, “sometimes successful, sometimes not. The town is addressing this as we speak.”
The board voted to move the project forward, granting parking relief at 1.67 spaces per unit.
Courtesy of The Valley Breeze
Courtesy of US News
Updated Nov 11, 2018 at 10:28 PM
U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report released on Nov. 1 found that the total number of reported veterans as homeless in 2018 decreased 5.4 percent since last year and fell to nearly half the number of homeless veterans reported in 2010.
Veteran homelessness in the U.S. continues to decline, according to a national estimate.
In announcing the latest annual estimate, HUD Secretary Ben Carson and U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said that communities are reporting fewer veterans in their shelters and on their streets. Exhibit 1.7 of the report shows that, among all states, Rhode Island is listed in the top 10, with 1,180 homeless and 69 unsheltered. See the entire report online at bit.ly/2kthLvp.
Each year, thousands of communities around the country conduct one-night “Point-in-Time” estimates of the number of people in emergency shelters, transitional housing programs and unsheltered locations. This year’s estimate finds that 37,878 veterans were homeless in January 2018, compared with 40,020 reported in January 2017. HUD estimates that among the total number of reported homeless veterans in 2018, 23,312 were found in sheltered settings while volunteers counted 14,566 veterans living in places not meant for human habitation.
HUD also reports a nearly 10 percent decline among female veterans experiencing homelessness. In January 2018, communities reported 3,219 homeless female veterans, compared with 3,571 one year earlier.
The decrease in veteran homelessness can largely be attributed to the effectiveness of the HUD-VA Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program, which combines permanent HUD rental assistance with case management and clinical services from the VA. HUD-VASH is complemented by VA programs that use modern tools and technology to identify the most vulnerable veterans and rapidly connect them to the appropriate interventions to become and remain stably housed.
Last year alone, more than 4,000 veterans, many experiencing chronic homelessness, found permanent housing and critically needed support services through the HUD-VASH program. An additional 50,000 veterans found permanent housing and supportive services through VA’s homeless programs.
HUD and VA have a wide range of programs that prevent and end homelessness among veterans, including health care, housing solutions, job training and education. More information about the VA’s homeless programs is available at www.VA.gov/homeless.
Veterans who are homeless or are at imminent risk of becoming homeless should contact the Providence VA Medical Center online at www.providence.va.gov/services/homeless/index.asp or call (401) 273-7100 and ask to speak to a homeless coordinator. You can also call the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans at (877) 4AID-VET. More information about HUD is available at www.hud.gov.
Items of interest
— The Providence VA Medical Center and the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Providence Regional Office are hosting a joint veterans’ town hall meeting from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, at the Providence VAMC, fifth-floor auditorium, main building, 830 Chalkstone Ave.
Benefits updates and a Q-and-A session will be held.
— The Lincoln Knights of Columbus will honor the service of veterans and first responders to the country and communities with a free breakfast on Saturday, Nov. 17, from 8 to 11 a.m., at the Columbus Club of Lincoln, at 171 Jenckes Hill Rd. They will also collect new items to support Operation ROVAC (Remembering Our Veterans at Christmas), which will be given to the men and women residents of the Bristol Rhode Island Veterans Home. Men’s and women’s clothing, winter hats, gloves, scarves, shoes, slippers and handkerchiefs are needed. Books and food are not needed, but there is a definite need for large-print word search books, DVD movies, music CDs, greeting cards, print magnifiers with lights, large-size toiletries, Dove and Irish Spring soap, stick deodorant, shaving cream, cologne and perfume.
— To assist veterans in navigating benefits and other services available to them, the Woonsocket Harris Public Library, 303 Clinton St., will host three informational sessions, from 10 to 11 a.m. on Nov. 17, Dec. 15 and Jan. 12, all Saturdays, in the library’s main program room. Tim McGorty, Woonsocket Veterans Service adviser, will answer questions and assist veterans with the benefits process. For more information, call McGorty at (401) 830-2599 or email him at email@example.com.
— Veterans of Foreign Wars: Gatchell Post 306 Auxiliary, 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12, 171 Fountain St., Pawtucket; Post 916, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, 155 High St., South Kingstown; Lymansville Memorial Post 10011, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, 354 Fruit Hill Ave., North Providence; Kelley-Gazzerro Post 2812, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, 1418 Plainfield St., Cranston.
— Vietnam Veterans of America Greater Providence Chapter 273, 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812, 1418 Plainfield St., Cranston.
— Korean War Veterans Association Northern R.I. Chapter 3, 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, Glocester Senior Center, 1210 Putnam Pike, Chepachet.
— U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Flotilla 72, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, USCG Sector Southeastern New England office, 20 Risho Ave., East Providence; Providence Flotilla 78, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, Aspray Boathouse, 2 East View St., Warwick.
— U.S. Submarine Veterans Rhode Island Base, 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, R.I. Aviation Hall of Fame building, 6854 Post Rd., North Kingstown, and all submariners are welcome.
— U.S. Navy Seabee Veterans of America Island X-1 Davisville, 9 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, Seabee Museum, 21 Iafrate Way, North Kingstown.
— Fleet Reserve Branch 42, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 17, Seabee Museum, 21 Iafrate Way, North Kingstown.
— Jewish War Veterans of the USA Post 23, 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, Tamarisk Assisted Living Community, 3 Shalom Drive, Warwick, business meeting; for more information call Steven Musen at (401) 463-5159 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
— American Legion Smithfield’s Balfour-Cole Post 64, Christmas party, 1 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 18, 170 Pleasant View Ave.
Send veterans’ meeting and news items to George W. Reilly at VeteransColumn@gmail.com.
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