PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Advocates gathered underneath the Route 146 overpass on Branch Avenue Wednesday to express their frustrations with the recent cleanup of a homeless encampment.
The cleanup was publicized by the Providence City Council, which posted photos to its social media accounts of Councilman Nicholas Narducci participating in it.
Narducci claims the cleanup, which took place Tuesday afternoon, was organized after neighbors complained about trash and litter in the area.
But demonstrators like Ellis Taylor argue that not everything that was left under that overpass was trash and more needs to be done to help the city’s homeless population.
“I am a person of privledge – I live in South Kingstown and I have a job,” Taylor explained. “I have a nice home, but we all have to stand together or we are all going to go down.”
Taylor described the social media post as “grotesque, terrible and mean.”
“It was outrageous in terms of his lack of empathy,” Taylor said of Narducci.
After receiving significant backlash online, Narducci reassured everyone that no one was displaced by the cleanup and he’s working to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
But Taylor believes Narducci’s response to the criticism simply wasn’t good enough.
“The state and municipalities have not stepped up to do what is needed. There is a lack of shelter, beds and permanent housing,” Taylor said. “We can’t keep writing plans to end homelessness and not get anywhere.”
Terry Wright, an organizer with Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE), said she wants to see more solutions to combat homelessness and less attempts to sweep the issue under the rug.
“I am livid,” Wright said. “Folks have set up shop under here because there is no place to go or to live.”
“We want to hear that the solution has been met and that housing has been provided for our unhoused residents,” she continued.
Taylor couldn’t agree more.
“The state needs to act before the winter comes … I mean, what are we doing?” he questioned.
Narducci did specify that he is ensuring that those who were utilizing the space under the overpass have access to social services. 12 News reached out to Narducci regarding the matter but has yet to hear back.