Advocates call on RI to do more to help homeless

Homeless people and supporters rally outside the governor’s office in the State House May 12, 2022, calling on Gov. Dan McKee to move more quickly to ease growing homelessness in Rhode Island. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News


Homeless advocates rallied outside Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s State House office Thursday, calling on the Democrat to do more to provide permanent shelter for a growing number of homeless people as winter shelters are about to close and more people face homelessness.

With ralliers chanting “not another night outside,” and “you have funds, get it done,” the group occupied a hallway outside the second floor governor’s office, although the governor was not in the building.

Luz Arroyo said she has been homeless since January.

“They just asked me… that I needed to leave my apartment, they left me on the street,” said Arroyo, who said she was shunted out of her Pawtucket apartment in December after her husband died last summer.

Providence College sociology professor Eric Hirsch credited McKee with pledging to earmark $250 million in his Fiscal 2023 state budget for housing needs, Hirsch, co-chair of the Homeless Management Information System Steering Committee said state needs to move more quickly.

“It’s not enough. We’re saying please create deployable shelters. They ship them to you and you can put them up in half an hour. They’re safe, they’re heated, they’re air conditioned,” said Hirsch, adding the state should start with 500 shelters that can go into any community that would have them. He said the state-owned Pastore complex in Cranston could also be used, if other cities and towns don’t agree to host shelters.

The governor’s office issued a statement pointing to his $250 million dollar pledge, which includes $21.5 million to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability.