PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Gov. Dan McKee is working to connect those experiencing homelessness with a permanent and affordable place to live.

McKee, in partnership with Amos House and the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, kickstarted on Tuesday a statewide “landlord challenge”, an incentive program to house homeless families.

Landlords with available units can get a $3,000 signing bonus for the first unit in which a tenant signs a one-year lease, then $1,000 for each additional unit they fill. The program will also provide up to $3,000 for landlords to use on repairs.

“A lack of housing is one of the most critical challenges facing too many Rhode Islanders, and the rapid decline of available affordable units over recent years has only exacerbated this crisis,” McKee said. “We have neighbors currently in hotel shelters who need to be re-housed, and this program will help meet that important need.”

Amos House President Eileen Hayes said there are 1,318 homeless people in Providence. Around 150 families have been staying in hotel-based shelters since the start of the pandemic, but the federal funding for those facilities ends in June.

“Housing is a human right. Every single person deserves a roof over their head and a place to call home,” Hayes said.

The state held similar challenges in 2020 and 2021.

McKee’s budget includes $250 million for housing, which he said there’s an urgent need for, since it impacts overall economic health.

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Hayes stressed that inflation has led to “unprecedented numbers of people who are homeless.”

“We have unprecedented skyrocketing costs for rents, for food, and for gas, and for every family living situation,” Hayes added.

Rhode Island’s Deputy Secretary of Commerce Josh Saal joined 12 News at 4 Monday to explain how the incentives will help get more housing online.

“Some of those units that might not even be showing up as available because they need some minor repairs here and there, they will now be available through this program which gives landlords, building owners that added incentive, reimbursing them for the repairs and then housing people who are experiencing homelessness,” he said.

The new challenge is modeled after a similar program in 2020, one that Saal says helped get more than 100 units online in a short amount of time.