CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — Cranston Mayor Ken Hopkins continues to push back against a proposal that would create a village of so-called “pallet housing” in Pastore Government Center.
Hopkins believes the city has already done its fair share, especially since it’s already home to Harrington Hall, which is the state’s largest men’s shelter.
“We just can’t have it there anymore,” Hopkins said. “We do enough here in the city of Cranston.”
Councilor Matthew Reilly pushed back against the proposal in a letter to Gov. Dan McKee last month, stating that the city “can no longer be the go-to-location to solve all of the state’s needs.”
“We simply can no longer bear any more of the state’s burden logistically, financially or socially,” Reilly wrote. “We will no longer sit quietly while the state intensifies its use of the Pastore Center to the detriment of the residents.”
In response to Reilly’s concerns, Rhode Island Housing Secretary Josh Saal sent a letter to the Cranston City Council notifying them that the state was only exploring the idea of placing pallet shelters there.
“At no point did we actively seek or plan to construct a village of pallet shelters or other
shelter beds,” Saal wrote.
The Cranston City Council mulled a resolution Monday night that would have sent a message to the state on where they stand regarding the pallet housing proposal.
That resolution, however, did not move forward.
Meanwhile, advocates believe more should be done to help the homeless.
Laura Jaworski, executive director for House of Hope, said rapidly-deployable pallet shelters can make a world of difference to those who live on the streets.
“They are a safe way to deliver temporary emergency shelter to people until we can get more housing,” she explained.
Hopkins said while he agrees that more needs to be done to help the state’s homeless population, Cranston is not the place to put pallet shelters.
“I’ll even help the governor if he needs help in finding spots in the state,” Hopkins said. “It’s just not fair to the residents who live in Cranston.”
Jaworksi said these proposals shouldn’t be limited to Cranston.
“We should be having conversations with all 39 cities and towns about how they can participate,” she said. “There are a lot of misconceptions around people who are unhoused, but these are people who deserve housing and need housing.”
12 News has reached out to the governor’s office regarding the proposal’s status of but has not yet heard back.