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“I knew I had to find a way to help them,” Carlos says. “I found two desperate people in dire need of emergency assistance, and I took them to Crossroads. Ingrid was able to receive health care, treatment and pain management services at the on-site Providence Community Health Centers clinic.” With the help of Crossroads’ Case Advocate, Deidre Jones, Ingrid and John entered the Crossroads Couples Shelter where they are receiving the services they need while they work together to rebuild their lives.
Although John has a disability, Tourette Syndrome, which sometimes makes life difficult for him, he has worked all his life without any public assistance. But now, as he is getting older, it is harder for him to find work, especially during these harsh economic times in Rhode Island. With Deidre’s help, both Ingrid and John have begun the process of applying for disability benefits that will give them income to qualify for supportive housing and access to health care.
Although their suffering has lessened somewhat, Ingrid and John still face a long wait to gain approval for disability benefits, health care and housing assistance. Thanks to RI DHS efforts to expedite SNAP (food assistance) applications for homeless people, this struggling couple has resources now to purchase food, and they can continue to get health care at the Crossroads clinic. The Crossroads Couples Shelter is spacious, has private rooms for couples and offers shared kitchen space that allows guests to prepare meals. But living in a shelter takes getting used to after having been independent all their lives and they are working hard with their case advocate to transition to permanent housing.
Scott and Janine were desperate and didn’t know where to turn for help. They had been homeless, living on the streets or in night-to-night shelters for over a month when someone told them to go to Crossroads Rhode Island for help. Scott was suffering from a long-term health problem and could barely walk, and Janine was struggling to help him survive. After twenty years together, they had never been in such a terrible situation.
When they arrived at Crossroads, with Janine lugging all their bags, they met outreach worker Luis Pinto at the front desk. “From that moment, our lives began to change for the better,” Scott says. At first, Scott and Janine had to sleep in our Community Room because no beds were open in our other shelters, but after a few days, Scott moved to the First Step Program and Janine went to the Women’s Shelter and then to the First Step. Almost immediately, they began working with Melissa Fijol from the Rapid Re-Housing Program, who helped them complete all the paperwork and meet the requirements for permanent housing. “At Crossroads, we found everything we needed to turn our lives around and not be in constant fear of losing everything again,” Scott says.
Scott and Janine say they want to help other people in similar situations. “We know the value of mutual support and working together to achieve goals, and with Luis’ help, we have established a support group that we call “Building Bridges.” Participants in the group have volunteered to help out in community projects, such as cleaning up Broad Street, and they adhere to principles of non-violence. “You have to help yourself if you want to benefit from services,” Scott and Janine say, “and we are committed to staying involved in the support group after we leave Crossroads. We are happy to go to Kennedy Plaza with Luis and help him reach out to other homeless persons living on the streets.”
This holiday season, Scott and Janine say they have much to be grateful for. “I am getting my GED at Crossroads, and I will soon be entering the Education and Employment Services Nurse Assistant training,” Janine says. Scott wants to get back to work, too, but his disability may prevent that. He is an expert auto body painter and an experienced and skilled handyman. But this year, they are thankful that they will spend the holidays in their new apartment in Central Falls. “We are getting health care, services and support through Crossroads’ case managers, and we are looking forward to a good year. We know that we will never be homeless again. We just needed assistance at the right time.”
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?
North Kingstown, R.I. (May 20, 2011) – U.S. Senator Jack Reed and U.S. Representative James Langevin joined Crossroads Rhode Island, Rhode Island Housing, and their community partners today to celebrate the first 24 homes completed at Kingstown Crossings I.
“Crossroads Rhode Island is proud to open these new, safe and beautiful homes to our families. The children will now live in a healthier environment and their parents will have much lower utility bills to pay each month,” said Anne Nolan, President of Crossroads Rhode Island. “Safety, respect and effectiveness are the core values for Crossroads and these homes are a perfect representation of those values. We are grateful to all our funders and partners that helped us make this a reality for our families.”
These new energy-efficient homes will replace former Navy housing located on the site. When the first phase of this project is completed, all of the 58 original apartments will be replaced with 58 new, safe and healthy homes. The families who were living in the former Navy housing are being relocated into the new homes.
“This is an exciting new development, returning surplus military land back to the community and creating impressive, energy-efficient homes for more working families. Kingstown Crossings will help breathe new life into the neighborhood,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee who helped secure over $5.5 million in federal funding for the project through a variety of federal resources. “Not only are these homes affordable, but their green features will make them more cost-effective to run. I commend Crossroads and Rhode Island Housing and their partners for making these quality, affordable homes a reality and look forward to the successful completion of the next phase of this ambitious plan.”
“These new homes not only provide low income families with affordable housing, but help save the residents money on their energy bills and jumpstart the market for energy-efficient products in Rhode Island,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse.
Later phases will include the creation of an additional 46 homes, bringing the total number of homes in the development to 104, all of which are affordable to families earning up to $43,260 for a family of four. Office space for program staff, new daycare center, community center with a conference room and additional parking areas are also planned.
“Providing affordable housing in our state is critical to getting our economy back on track,” said U.S. Representative James Langevin. “We have a responsibility to assist those who are unjustly bearing the brunt of the recession, and who are unable to fully contribute to our economic recovery without stable housing. These buildings represent a model for addressing our housing crisis by partnering federal, state and private entities to maximize our resources and reducing costs through energy efficiency.”
Crossroads Rhode Island, the developer of Kingstown Crossings and the state’s largest provider of immediate and long-term assistance to Rhode Islanders who are homeless, teamed up with several partners to finance this development. They were able to pull together funding from several sources, which helped pay for the construction and the rental assistance. The total development cost is about $13.7 million.
“Kingstown Crossings is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when partners come together,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “We are able to create good homes in vibrant communities when a strong nonprofit organization like Crossroads takes the lead to bring together so many government and business entities in a common public purpose.”
Rhode Island Housing contributed nearly $8.6 million for this development. Additional financing was provided by Bank Rhode Island, in partnership with the Federal Home Loan Bank, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Housing Resources Commission, Home Depot Foundation, Fannie Mae Foundation, Town of North Kingstown, and Enterprise. Corporation for Supportive Housing and Rhode Island Housing, which provided pre-development financing.
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"
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Advocates for helping Rhode Island’s homeless released a new report Tuesday on the true cost of homelessness and the benefits of securing stable homes for needy families.
Crossroads Rhode Island released a 12-page report that found it costs significantly less to put someone in housing than to keep them in a shelter.
The organization has long been known to be a safe haven. In 2013 alone, the shelter took in 259 men, 388 women, and 244 families. However, their new report showed their focus now is to provide a safe haven outside its walls and in apartments that the chronically homeless can call home.
Crossroads President and CEO Anne Nolan said the “Housing First” approach promotes the old way of doing social work.
“When we put someone in housing, we don’t just run away from them. We stay with them and give them the support they need in their house.”
Iain De Jong, the man behind the research for the report, said there will always be a need for charity and emergency support.
“We need to move beyond that to make sure the people who are hungry aren’t also hungry tomorrow, and the people who need clothing today don’t also need clothing from us tomorrow, and the people who need shelter from us tonight actually have a stable roof that they can keep over their head permanently,” he said.
The study found the average cost to take care of a homeless individual is $31,617, while the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island costs $13,872.
Under the Housing First approach, those apartments would be paid for and subsidized by Housing and Urban Development money and affordable housing bonds.
Eyewitness News asked Nolan what can be done to help the homeless, and she said that even though money donations are always needed, speaking to state legislators to keep the Housing First program funded is key.
Article source: WPRI.com
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