RI gets $7.3 million in federal funding to help homeless
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) - Nearly a dozen organizations across Rhode Island are getting some major federal funding to combat homelessness.
Senator Jack Reed announced Sunday $7,308,810 in federal Continuum of Care grants for Rhode Island homeless assistance programs.
The funding, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), will support 34 homeless assistance projects. They'll be able to provide housing to the homeless and a variety of services.
"We're expecting a little over $200,000," said Lisa Guillette, executive director of Foster Forward in East Providence.
The organization, that serves 1,600 young people annually, is using the money to fund their "Your Way Home" program. It places 18-24-year-olds transitioning from foster care to adulthood into their own apartments.
"We have to understand that when young people have been in foster care, they often lack that network of family support. Homelessness becomes a much more imminent prognosis for them," said Guillette.
Foster Forward helps pay their rent for two years, with the young adult contributing more and more each month, to eventually be stable on their own. With the funding they can serve 12 people at a time, and up to 20 people a year.
"It’s all part of a housing-first strategy, to make sure that first and foremost, young people are stably housed, and then we can get to the business of helping them with all of the other needs that they might have."
Sojourner House in Providence will do the same with their grant money, around $550,000, but for victims of domestic violence.
"They’ve never had a lease in their name, they’ve never had utilities in their own name. For a lot of our families, this is the first time that they've had a place that is theirs, that's not controlled by their abuser," said executive director of Sojourner House, Vanessa Volz.
Volz said the agency provides shelters to their victims, amongst other services, but quickly realized that a home of their own is what the victims need first and foremost. This money, she said, does just that.
"This HUD money has been incredible in allowing us to serve families in that way. It really allows them to escape from abusive situations and start a new chapter, and so with self-sufficiency and dignity."
Crossroads R.I. also got a chunk of the funding, but their President and CEO Karen Santilli said she hopes state leaders will help too.
“We remain hopeful that in addition this federal support, that Rhode Island’s state leaders will dedicate funds to prevent homelessness and expand access to affordable housing in this year’s budget," said Santilli.
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