PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The homeless population has been hit hard as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
Homelessness presents a number of challenges but Crossroads Rhode Island has been able to bridge the gap by housing more people during the pandemic than they did last year at this time.
Gov. Gina Raimondo’s message for weeks has been to stay home for Thanksgiving, but for those that are homeless, that advice doesn’t really apply.
Due to that, Crossroads has lended a helping hand to get people somewhere to call home, even if for a small amount of time.
The winter months are among us, it’s getting cold, and coronavirus cases are on the rise forcing Crossroads to open an emergency shelter at a former YMCA building earlier in the week. This will add just over 30 beds for those needing somewhere to stay, on top of their main shelter.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Developments estimates 1,055 people experience homelessness in the Ocean State a year.
Crossroads CEO Karen Santilli says the biggest change they are seeing this season is more families seeking housing.
“It’s more complicated and difficult so we are seeing an increase in families who wouldn’t otherwise would never have become homeless,” Santilli said. “So, they don’t have very high-level needs, many have cars, many had been working but are now unfortunately unemployed because of the pandemic.”
Crossroads says PPE and social distancing are among their top priorities and they have also been able to partner with the R.I. Department of Health for regular testing.
If and when someone does test positive, an isolation room is readily acsessible.