ProJo: My Turn: Laura Calenda: Most homeless are working poor

The headline on Mark Patinkin's May 23 column labeled Judy McGill, the 53-year-old woman who has been living with her cats beneath a bridge near the Providence Place mall for the last several months, “The face of homelessness.” But she is not really the “face” of the problem.

Although Ms. McGill's living arrangements are both visible and compelling, Mr. Patinkin's account fails to adequately capture the complexity of her situation. Without violating her privacy, suffice to say that she is part of a small subset of about 240 chronically homeless individuals who typically suffer from multiple mental and/or physical disabilities and require intensive intervention.

The vast majority of Rhode Island's homeless, the “real” face of homelessness in Rhode Island, are the working poor. Approximately 4,000 people experienced homelessness in Rhode Island last year. Here at Crossroads, the largest provider of housing and services to the homeless in Rhode Island, we provided services to 3,300 men, women and children in 2017. As a result of those efforts, I'm proud to report, more than 1,740 people, including 448 families, are no longer homeless.

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