PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island officials outlined the state’s strategy to help those experiencing homelessness this winter.

Gov. Dan McKee and Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor discussed shelter plans and other housing options at a news conference Friday morning.

“This winter, Rhode Island is taking an all-hands-on-deck approach to preventing and addressing homelessness,” McKee said.

The state is adding an additional 318 beds for shelter this winter, which is a 30% increase compared to last year, according to McKee.

McKee said this is possible thanks to municipalities, service providers, and houses of worship who have answered the call to identify new locations for shelter and services.

“We will continue the active collaborations which, thankfully, have even more potential to add beds and supports in the coming weeks — beyond what is being announced today,” Pryor said.

The state is also piloting new pallet shelters in Pawtucket and Providence that would be available for 30-45 rapidly deployable, temporary shelter units.

The Department of Housing (DOH) is also partnering with the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency and local municipalities to open emergency winter hubs across Rhode Island.

McKee said next week, the DOH will issue a request for proposal that would allow the department to find municipalities that choose to stand-up emergency hubs that are available and accessible overnight.

The regional hubs will be a place for those experiencing homelessness as well as Rhode Islanders whose homes lose heat to power.

Additionally, McKee said the state is also looking to support individuals and families before they begin to experience homelessness. This includes:

  • Investing $750,000 in flexible financial assistance plus $1 million in counseling for housing problem-solving.
  • Working with the Rhode Island Foundation to stand up a giving opportunity.
  • Continuing financial support for legal services to prevent evictions.
  • Naming Libby Kimzey to lead efforts to collaborate across state agencies through a new position based at the DOH.

This all comes as the state’s housing department added an extra $10 million in grants for local support organizations from the consolidated homelessness fund.

Watch the full news conference below: