Over the last few months, there has been a lot of chatter about downtown Providence and Kennedy Plaza in particular. There have been stories in the media, press conferences, editorials, meetings and conversations among stakeholders, and postings on social media. I wanted to share my thoughts as to where Crossroads Rhode Island stands.
Crossroads' mission is clear – to help homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes. We remain steadfast in our response. While it is easy to become distracted by much of what has happened, our Outreach Workers and Housing Case Managers remain focused on providing services that are effective and solution focused:
- We have a singular focus on housing as the solution.
- We work to house individuals and families and then provide them with wrap-around services to ensure that they are able to maintain their housing.
- These wrap-around services may include education and employment supports, financial literacy training, referrals to alcohol or drug treatment, supports for being a good tenant, etc.
- This model is based on national best practice, and has been proven as the most effective way to end homelessness for those experiencing it – particularly those who have long histories or multiple episodes of homelessness.
The recent media and public attention has raised awareness around issues of poverty, drug addiction, mental health, unemployment, and homelessness. This is a good thing. The more we know about the realities of our society and what others face, the better we can be at addressing challenges. Many social service agencies have been sitting around the table with the business and government community to discuss, educate, and work together. This is also a good thing.
We know there are complex social issues to be addressed beyond homelessness. We are committed to working with other service providers who offer programs and services that we do not. But we know what works effectively to end one’s homelessness. As I’ve said in the past, this isn’t about ending homelessness for Crossroads’ clients...it is about ending homelessness for each individual and family experiencing it in Rhode Island.
We will continue to be a part of the solution by doing outreach work with a focus on housing those who are living on the streets, instead of only offering them temporary assistance in the form of hand-outs. Using this approach, in 2015 we were able to move 41 individuals who were living on the street directly into housing.
This work would not be possible without the support of our donors. On behalf of the people that we serve and all those that will come to us for help this coming winter, thank you for helping us be part of the solution.