‘I am so grateful’: RI woman says rental relief program changed her life

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Sandra Bagwell tells 12 News she was on the verge of being kicked out of her Pawtucket apartment amid the pandemic, but the state’s RentReliefRI program helped her get back on track.

“I wasn’t able to work because of COVID,” Bagwell explained, adding that she also fell victim to domestic violence. “In the situation I was in, I was really falling back on everything as far as rent and bills and stuff like that.”

“[The pandemic] really had me struggling,” she continued. “Sometimes you can get depressed and you think you can’t get out of it.”

But just when Bagwell began losing hope, she met Katie Barrington of Crossroads Rhode Island.

The nonprofit organization has been working alongside R.I. Housing since the rent relief program launched in April. Barrington said she’s helped file more than 100 RentReliefRI applications, and so far, 15 of them have already been approved, including Bagwell’s.

Bagwell credited her second chance to Barrington, who helped her through the process.

“I have a whole new start on life. I am so grateful,” Bagwell said. “I’m able to save money, I’m able to do things that I wasn’t able to do before, all because I got the help from Katie Barrington.”

Bagwell said the only thing that was difficult for her during the process was her uncooperative landlord.

But that’s where Barrington came into play. She said it’s her job to coordinate and mediate with landlords, describing herself as the tenant’s “right-hand-man.”

“There’s really no strings attached to this,” Barrington said of the program. “By the end of the day, he gets paid, she gets paid, the family stays housed and homelessness is prevented.”

As of Thursday, the RentReliefRI dashboard shows that out of the 2,495 applications filed, 1,058 have been approved.

Bagwell urged anyone who’s struggling to apply as soon as possible.

“The strongest people sometimes have the most problems, but we cover it very well,” Bagwell said. “If you need help, it’s out there. Go get it.”

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