PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Homeless advocates are warning against the dismantling of known encampments, arguing that it is only exacerbates the statewide housing crisis.

This comes less than a month after a homeless encampment was removed from Smith Hill, and one day after two others were cleared in Woonsocket and Warwick.

Mayor Frank Picozzi said Thursday that the encampment in Warwick has been vacant for weeks, adding that its former residents were provided shelter by a local agency.

“They brought with them all of the possessions that they wished to keep and left behind what they didn’t want,” Picozzi said in a statement.

Picozzi said the state cleaned and sanitized the property on Wednesday.

The mayor said the situation in Warwick is nothing like the one in Woonsocket, where those living in the encampment were reportedly told to leave weeks prior.

Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness Deputy Director Margaux Morisseau said removing these encampments isn’t the answer.

“By bulldozing encampments cities are creating a crisis on top of a crisis,” Morisseau said. “We can’t clear encampments when people have no place to go.”

Right now, Morisseau said there are more than 260 Rhode Islanders living on the streets.

That number is expected to rise over the next few months, according to Morisseau, since those who found temporary housing over the holidays will likely be forced out long before finding permanent housing.

“This housing market that we are in right now is displacing people and families with children faster than we can house them,” Morisseau said.

The state opened a 24-hour warming station last month inside the Cranston Street Armory in an effort to temporarily shelter homeless Rhode Islanders during the winter months.

The Amos House, the non-profit in charge of the warming station, tells 12 News that the number of people taking advantage of the space has tripled since it first opened.

Morisseau, a Woonsocket resident, said she’s frustrated with the city’s handling of the recently-removed homeless encampment.

“I’m concerned with how our city managed the evacuation, and the bulldozing of the encampment,” she said. “Let’s call it what it was … it was not a pretty picture.”

Morisseau is asking communities across Rhode Island work with local non-profits and agencies to identify spaces for immediate shelter beds.