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News & Event

Providence Journal Op-ed: Money For Housing Crucial for R.I. Homeless

Crossroads President and CEO Karen Santilli talks about the need to support funding for more affordable housing in Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal, July 11, 2016

Op-ed by Karen Santilli

Regarding Froma Harrop’s June 29 Commentary piece (“The streets cannot be a home”): Many cities and states are seeing an upsurge of unsheltered people experiencing homelessness. So much so that they have turned to emergency declarations to try to tackle the crisis.

The picture that Harrop painted of unsheltered individuals and families was vivid and, although extreme, is the reality for many cities across the country. What was most important in the piece was her acknowledgment that additional funding is needed to solve this complex issue.

Here in Rhode Island, we too are seeing an increase in the number of people we serve. It is unacceptable for any man, woman or child to be homeless. Yet each year thousands of Rhode Islanders find themselves without a place to call home.

A shortage of affordable housing has resulted in rents that absorb a disproportionately high share of income, leaving many only an illness, accident or paycheck away from becoming homeless. Thousands of Rhode Island families and individuals live at or near the poverty line, and are vulnerable to becoming homeless.

The only lasting solution to homelessness is permanent, affordable housing. Far too often, however, we attempt to treat the symptoms of homelessness instead of its root causes. Crossroads is working to increase the number of affordable housing units available, with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness.

Additionally, and in combination with services provided to those who come to a shelter, we have an active street outreach team that identifies, monitors and educates unsheltered homeless people about the programs available to them. In 2015, our outreach team moved 45 individuals who were living on the streets into their own apartments.

We know what the solution is, and we are working tirelessly to put it in place. However, we have a limited budget. With additional funding we can make an even bigger impact on our community and solve homelessness in Rhode Island.

In November, Rhode Island voters will see a referendum on the ballot to provide additional funding for affordable housing. We hope residents understand how vital the bond is and support creating more affordable housing opportunities in our state.

Providence Journal Article:


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