Homeless encampment in Providence cleared amid protest

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A homeless encampment on Charles Street in Providence was cleared on Monday.

Protestors gathered near the site as those living at the encampment were asked to gather their belongings and leave.

On Friday, notices to vacate the property by Monday were handed out. Throughout the weekend, most of the people staying at the encampment cleared out, which at times held a few dozen people without a home over the last five years.

Eric Hirsch with the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project told ABC 6 News Monday that demands to provide people with humane alternative housing options when issuing a vacate order have gone unanswered by Mayor Brett Smiley.

“[Smiley] said he was interested in this solution and he would find sites,” Hirsch said. “He found nothing. He’s done nothing.”

“We understand the city was going to clear this encampment, but they should’ve done much more than they did,” he added.


The biggest concern for the homeless advocacy groups in attendance was losing contact with the people that are now out on their own.

Smiley said last week that the city would provide services for those leaving the encampment.

“We’ve partnered with the state and local providers to provide medical care, medical supplies, harm reduction services, behavioral health supports, and housing opportunities to those at this encampment site, whenever possible,” Smiley said.

Smiley said the vacate order was prompted by many concerns, including how “dangerously close” the encampment is to the highway. He said there’s also been several reported fires and floods at the encampment in recent weeks.

Smiley said the city has invested more than $3 million into housing and shelter beds in the last year.

ABC 6 obtained the following statement from the mayor’s office Monday:

“The Mayor, and the city of Providence, remain committed to finding increased housing opportunities for folks in Providence and throughout the state. We are working closely with providers and with the state to help connect these individuals with the supports they need and to find privately owned property to better support the statewide response to homelessness.

We have expressed our concerns for this site in particular for the individuals living in this encampment due to the dangerous proximity to the highway, recent fires and floods in the last several weeks. The city has been working with the state to pursue non-city owned land that may provide for the possibility of pallet or pallet like housing in the city of Providence and will continue to do so.”


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