News & Event
WPRI recently reported on the growing numbers of homeless individuals and families in Rhode Island. To watch the report click here.
To help support Crossroads Rhode Island in breaking homelessness and repairing lives, please donate.
You can help a child living in shelter
by donating to Crossroads today.
During the past 30 days, the number of homeless families seeking assistance at Crossroads has risen dramatically. Cicely Dove, the Family Center Director, says “We have 17 families now, but rooms for only 15. One family of 5 is staying in the living room and another family is using the literacy program computer and study room. Yesterday 3 new families arrived and we had to find other shelters for them. Two more families had to go to a motel outside Providence.”
Crossroads’ intake information shows that most of the families were staying with other family members or friends before coming to Crossroads. They are part of a growing “doubled up” population that is especially vulnerable to becoming homeless. The landlord may force the extra tenants to leave or threaten to evict the lease holder. An event like Tropical Storm Irene and loss of power can cause tensions to rise and make the overcrowded situations intolerable.
Children who are homeless struggle to keep up in school. At the Family Center, case advocates work closely with school personnel to find resources to ensure that children have transportation so they can continue to attend the same schools they were enrolled in before becoming homeless. “It is very hard for children to do their homework when the Center is crowded and noisy,” Cicely says. “We have a homework area and computers, but right now a family is in that room. We are trying to keep our Family Literacy Program going in spite of the overcrowding so that the kids can get help with homework and enjoy our reading and story times.” Most children are dealing with the trauma of being homeless as well, which makes it even more difficult for them to focus on their schoolwork. It is no wonder that children experiencing homelessness are often a couple of grades behind their peers.
Nationally, the number of doubled-up families is growing. Many parents are desperately looking for jobs, and others are trying to apply for public benefits because their unemployment insurance has ended. Unfortunately, public funding for safety net services is shrinking everywhere, and Rhode Island is no exception. Unless the job market improves, these families may be struggling for a long time.
The Family Center provides three meals a day and after-school snacks, which means that the food bill is going up every day. “Meal times can be hectic, but the families all pitch in with cooking, serving and cleaning up. We make sure families get healthy meals and that nobody goes hungry,” says Cicely.
Families at the Center work closely with case advocates in order to transition quickly to housing stability. Crossroads’ Rapid Re-Housing program has been very successful in helping families find and sustain decent, safe and affordable housing. Parents also have access to Crossroads’ Education and Employment Services, which offer adult education, GED, employment readiness and job training programs to help adults succeed in the workforce.
We do everything possible to help families stay positive during their stays at the shelter, but we know that homelessness is really difficult for all of them, especially the children. Thanks to generous donors and foundations that focus on the well-being of children, we can provide our young guests with essentials, such as back packs and school supplies and enrich their lives with family literacy activities, field trips and holiday celebrations. Still, life in a shelter is no substitute for a real home, and our goal is to help families move to housing stability as quickly as possible.
Written by Karen A. Santilli, President & CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island
Published online on August 25, 2015 at providencejournal.com.
Is it possible to provide every individual and family experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island the opportunity to be housed within 30 days of losing housing? The short answer is yes, when systems and programs are designed to effectively end homelessness rather than manage homelessness.
Rhode Islanders, like residents of other states, have challenges. Wages have stagnated. Housing is not as affordable as it once was. Finding affordable accommodations is difficult. Unemployment is high. And yet homelessness remains solvable. And we know how to solve it -- with a singular focus on housing.
Homelessness is not the character flaw of an individual or head of household in a family. While the stereotypical image is of a person with mental illness struggling with addiction, the truth is that most Rhode Islanders who live with a mental illness and/or addiction will never be homeless. Most people living below the poverty line will never be homeless. Homelessness is a remarkably rare event informed more by unique circumstances and interruption of natural supports than anything else. The solution, therefore, should be so focused.
Ending homelessness is more cost-effective than managing homelessness. It is cheaper -- about threefold less. People who are homeless consume significant taxpayer-funded services, from emergency health care to frequent interactions with police; court costs dealing with petty offenses and misdemeanors to sheltering services.
Over the past two years, Crossroads Rhode Island has revamped its programs top to bottom to focus on housing. The result? Overwhelming increases in people exiting Crossroads programs into housing: 1,238 were moved into housing in 2014 -- a 26 percent increase over 2013. Crossroads’ solution-focused thinking is pervasive in shelters and employment programs, to get people connected to housing as quickly as possible. Lengths of stay in shelters for families and single adults operated by Crossroads are down: 2014 shelter stays decreased 20 percent from the previous year.
How did we get there? Making the tough choices. From top to bottom, Crossroads’ staff now performs the tasks and interventions necessary to end every person’s homelessness. It meant changing programs and staffing. It meant having a board that supports what is proven to work, not necessarily what felt like just a charitable action. It meant making a commitment to continuous improvement.
As a result, Crossroads has been recognized as a national leader and had the opportunity to showcase its accomplishments at the National Alliance to End Homelessness conference in Washington, D.C. Others want to know how Crossroads Rhode Island went about decreasing the lengths of stays in shelters, and increased the number of people moving into housing and staying housed.
More can and needs to be done to move the entire state in the direction that will achieve maximum results. Ending homelessness in Rhode Island requires critical thought and action on where to place state and federal resources.
The best use of those funds is to target them to the individuals and families that need them the most, not based on first-come, first-served. The best use of those funds is to use data to drive investment. The best use of those funds is in hands-on supports that help people locate and move into housing quickly, and then supports for whatever issues triggered the episode of homelessness in the first place.
The best use of those funds is investing in organizations that have a track record of successful outcomes and are professionally trained on the interventions proven to work. The best use of those funds is investing in programs that deliver services aligned to evidence and practice.
A charitable approach of well-intentioned but misguided organizations is not going to cut it.
It is time to realize that we need a different approach than the one that got us into our current state -- of more than 4,000 people homeless in Rhode Island. Crossroads is blazing the path of what is possible in the state. As the new president of Crossroads, I am committed to making the changes necessary to get the job done. Will the state and its people step up to support this proven approach to ending homelessness?
Crossroads Staff Writer
June 29, 2010
Crossroads runs the largest shelter for homeless families in Rhode Island and we've been experiencing a disturbing trend: more families are coming to us for help. We have already seen a 31% increase in the number of homeless families come through our doors this year compared to last. The shelter is filled beyond capacity and families are forced to sleep in the overflow room at our headquarters. The families came from 10 different cities and towns in Rhode Island, including Barrington, Cranston, Middletown and Central Falls. In just one night last week, 3 new families came in because they had nowhere else to go.to help us provide services to the increasing number of homeless families in Rhode Island.
Cicely Dove, Crossroads' Director of Family Services in Providence, is very concerned and said, "I am extremely worried because these are families that have never been homeless before. They have no where to go and need our help." Usually she will work with other shelters in the state to place families when Crossroads is full. She's learned that all the other shelters are full as well. Some have waiting lists.
This story was recently featured in the Providence Journal. Read about it here.
Crossroads never wants to turn anyone away - particularly not a homeless family. And sleeping in our overflow room is not the answer. Our staff is working hard to ensure that each family will have a safe place to stay while they work on finding permanent housing.
We need your help. Our resources are stretched so thin. Please consider making a donation now to help us help these homeless families in our community. Crossroads donors have always been there when we needed you; and we need you now more than ever. Thank you for your continued support and generosity.
401.521.2255 \ email@example.com
160 Broad Street \ Providence, RI 02903 \ Map & Directions
Site Map \ Privacy
Need Help Now