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News & Event
Providence, RI, July 1, 2016
The Board of Directors of Crossroads Rhode Island, the state’s largest provider of services to the homeless, today announced a merger with the Women’s Center of Rhode Island, an organization serving victims of domestic violence. After a formal three-year affiliation, the two organizations have merged into one 501(c)3 organization governed by the Crossroads Board of Directors, and all Women’s Center programs and services have moved into Crossroads’ continuum of care as the Domestic Violence Program of Crossroads Rhode Island.
The Board of Directors of both organizations unanimously agreed to the merger. “This merger represents the coming together of two organizations united in the common goal of empowering vulnerable individuals and families to overcome homelessness and live safe, self-sufficient lives free of violence,” noted Virginia Branch, Women’s Center of Rhode Island Board Chair and Crossroads Rhode Island board member.
By combining the resources of both organizations, this new entity is better positioned to meet the needs of the community.
“By merging, we will improve the quality and accessibility of services to survivors of domestic violence and expand the range of services that support clients as they transition to safety, housing and stability,” noted Jack McConnell, Crossroads Rhode Island Board Chair. “The merger not only enhances and expands the scope of services of both nonprofits, but also provides a larger operating platform,” he added.
From a sample of women who had experienced domestic violence, 38% became homeless after they separated from their abusive partner. An additional 25% indicated that they had to leave their homes during the year following the separation for both safety and financial reasons.
“By bringing an innovative Housing First approach to our Domestic Violence Program, we hope to break the cycle of violence by providing opportunities for supportive, safe housing options for women and children as they transition from shelter,” noted Karen Santilli, President of Crossroads Rhode Island. “We will continue to offer comprehensive, evidence-based programs and services to individuals and families in crisis, such as 24/7 hotline, domestic violence safe shelter, case management, employment support and supportive transitional and permanent housing that survivors want and need to become independent.”
A Domestic Violence Committee of the Board will ensure that evidence-based domestic violence programs and services will continue and expand to meet the needs of clients who have experienced the trauma of domestic violence.
Additionally, Crossroads has applied for affiliate membership with the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV), an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence.
“The Women’s Center was one of the founding member agencies of the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1979, and they have been an integral component of the domestic violence movement in our state. We are looking forward to working with Crossroads Rhode Island, and to helping them maintain critical services for victims of domestic violence in the Providence area,” noted Deborah DeBare, Executive Director of the RICADV.
With the opening of 5 new units at the Harold Lewis House and the release of the Aging and Homelessness Report, Crossroads Rhode Island has recently been featured in various news media outlets.
Providence Journal - "Crossroads Rhode Island: Homelessness among people 50 and over has increased sharply "
Providence Business News - "Crossroads sees homelessness rise among older Rhode Islanders"
RINPR - "A Growing Number of RI’s Homeless Population Is Elderly"
WPRI - "As Non-Profit opens new wing, more elders becoming homeless"
Under the supervision of Chef David Rocheleau, the kitchen at Crossroads provides hot meals to our clients five days a week. On average, 110 clients a day are served nutritious, expertly-prepared food in the dining room of our Providence headquarters.
Chef Dave faces the unique challenge of preparing his daily menus while incorporating an often unpredictable supply of donated ingredients. Much of the food served at Crossroads comes from organizations that specialize in making nutritious food available at low or no cost to the poor and homeless, such as the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Farm Fresh RI.
While these organizations provide a steady stream of fresh vegetables, fruits, and grains, proteins such as poultry or fish are often in short supply.
“Proteins are hard to come by,” says Dave. “We get a lot of carbs and grains that are donated.”
Recognizing this need, Dave has been working with Eating with the Ecosystem, a local organization dedicated to designing and promoting a place-based approach to sustainable seafood in New England.
Eating with the Ecosystem is launching a campaign called Seafood For All, which will bring local seafood to low-income neighborhoods, food pantries, and meal sites in Rhode Island, by encouraging the fishing of species that are abundant locally, but that are not typically in demand.
“Everyone wants cod, everyone wants swordfish,” says Dave. “But there are only so many out there.”
Seafood For All will connect the local fishing industry, seafood processors, and local food pantries. By connecting people in need of proteins with fish that is undervalued, both ends of the spectrum will benefit.
The local fishing industry benefits from fishing the species that are most abundant; food pantries will have a supply of fresh, local fish; and the local environment will benefit from the fishing of species that are seasonally available instead of the species that are most in-demand, and as a result, overfished.
This initiative aims to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have access to healthy, local seafood while helping to alleviate the problems of local overfishing and food insecurity among homeless and low-income individuals and families.
As we welcome 2017, I thank you for all you have done to help Crossroads Rhode Island fulfill our mission of helping homeless or at-risk individuals and families secure stable homes.
Last year was an important one at Crossroads, as we expanded several of our programs and services:
The Domestic Violence Program of Crossroads was established following a three-year affiliation with the Women's Center of Rhode Island.
We completed the renovation of Whitmarsh House, which provides supportive housing for 11 chronically homeless or youth individuals.
We began operating Harrington Hall, the largest shelter for men in the state.
We expanded our Street Outreach Program aimed at providing housing and supportive services to the unsheltered homeless in our community.
Through your support, we help our clients overcome barriers and ultimately help them end their homeless circumstances with stable housing.
On behalf of Crossroads and those whom we serve, thank you for your continued generosity. We could not do it without you. I hope you will continue to join us in our efforts to house our homeless neighbors as quickly, safely, and respectfully as possible.
Karen A. Santilli
President & CEO
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?
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