WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Residents living in a Warwick neighborhood are expressing concerns about a nearby hotel that’s sheltering dozens of homeless Rhode Islanders this winter.
Crossroads Rhode Island and the state’s Office of Housing and Community Development are using $3 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to rent out the NYLO Hotel in its entirety until March 2022.
While those living in the neighborhood believe no one should be sleeping on the streets, they’re puzzled as to why they weren’t given the opportunity to express their concerns.
Those residents asked to remain anonymous out of fear for retaliation, but said there’s been an uptick in crime since November, when the Greenwich Avenue hotel’s 150 beds were first rented out.
The residents also question why that federal funding wasn’t put towards rent payments instead.
But Wayne Samuelian, who’s currently staying at the hotel, claims there’s no criminal activity occurring.
“They’re doing everything in their power to help people like me,” Samuelian said.
“There is no crime here, everybody minds their business,” he continued. “I don’t know what the problem is with the neighborhood.”
12 News reached out to the Warwick Police Department regarding the residents’ claims. The department said since November, they’ve received approximately 50 calls pertaining to hotel, but most of those calls were prompted by officers themselves.
Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi said he’s already reached out to Crossroads about the situation.
“There are area residents that are upset about it,” he said. “I really wish they would’ve done some community outreach.”
A spokesperson for Crossroads said the community’s reaction comes as a surprise, since they ran a shelter program there from April through July last year without incident.
Gov. Dan McKee has repeatedly said addressing homelessness statewide has been a priority.
“I’m committed to overbuilding the capacity like we did with our vaccines,” McKee said. “We developed a vaccine capability for 100,000 shots in a week. We’re going to take the same tactic here so that we don’t have to deal with these same problems year after year.”
In a statement, Crossroads CEO and President Karen Santilli said they’re working to secure permanent housing for those currently staying at the hotel.
“In fact, we have already helped several people move out of the hotel and into permanent, affordable housing since the program launched,” Santilli explained.