PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Protestors gathered Friday morning outside Providence City Hall to urge state and city officials to dedicate more resources to helping homeless people as the closure of the Cranston Street Armory nears.
The temporary warming station is set to shut down May 15, after the state delayed plans to close it in April. The shelter currently houses around 150 people per night, according to R.I. Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor.
Pryor said they have been working to find a new place for those staying at the armory. On Friday, advocacy groups called on Mayor Brett Smiley to provide a list of vacant properties that could be turned into shelters, purchase pallet shelters to house 100 individuals in at least two separate shelter villages, and prevent police from intervening with tent encampments.
A spokesperson for Smiley said the city doesn’t have any vacant properties to turn into shelters.
Anthony, a homeless individual who did not want to use his last name, was at the protest and told 12 News he’s been staying at the armory. He said he was given a list of shelters and sent on his way after he was released from the ACI last week.
“They’re setting them up for failure,” Anthony said. “The state needs to start helping the homeless more.”
Pryor held a media availability Friday afternoon to announce a $30 million budget proposal to develop more housing in the state. The package includes no direct funding for homeless individuals or the Cranston Street Armory, which was opened in December 2022 as a temporary warming station.
When asked if they’re confident that those at the armory will have a place to sleep the day it closes, Pryor said he “wouldn’t say that.”
“Because individuals, as should be the case, are making their own choices as to where they will next reside,” Pryor explained. “In addition, there is a constellation of agencies and stakeholders who are working at providing new options, but the options are still coming to fruition.”