WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — With the Cranston Street Armory in Providence closing Monday, the state is working to find a new place for homeless people to stay.
Warwick Mayor Frank Picozzi wrote on Facebook saying he was informed by the state that 55 people experiencing homelessness would be housed at the Motel 6 on Jefferson Boulevard. This is in addition to the 40 people who have been living there since the fall.
For the new rooms, first preference will be given to those staying at the Cranston Street Armory. The agency OpenDoors RI plans to start moving them in this week.
Last week, Picozzi met with R.I. Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor and members of the city’s police and fire command staff to talk about onsite staff, security, and other aid that residents would need.
“My public safety officials showed statistics and data on increased calls for service at Motel 6 since the fall, and last year when the Nylo Hotel was being used as a shelter,” Picozzi wrote.
“Our concern is that our resources and manning are stretched thin already and more calls could lead to having additional personnel working on some shifts or days which would be very expensive for the city but necessary for public safety,” he continued.
Warwick police told 12 News they’ve responded to more than 300 calls at that Motel 6 since the initial 40 people moved in, and officers have conducted 225 directed patrols of the building.
Picozzi added that he met with Gov. Dan McKee on Wednesday about concerns that the additional people will strain the police and fire departments.
“I said that this could end up being very expensive for the city, and he agreed and was very receptive to try to work out some type of reimbursement arrangement,” Picozzi said. “He asked for some additional information which we are putting together and then we’ll meet again.”
In a statement sent by a spokesperson, Pryor said the motel represents “one of the steps the Housing Department and our partners are taking to address homelessness in Rhode Island.”
The armory opened late last year to provide temporary 24-hour warming shelter to homeless people during the winter months. It was never meant to be permanent, and was initially slated to close in April. The closing date has been delayed by the state twice. (The historic armory building is expected to be redeveloped, but the plan has stalled amid the building’s use as a shelter.)
Pryor’s spokesperson Joseph Lindstrom said the rest of the people at the armory are being referred to other new sites. About 130 to 150 people sleep there every night, according to Amos House.
“We expect to share more updates as additional shelter capacity becomes available,” he said.
12 News also tried to ask Gov. Dan McKee about the state’s plan at an unrelated media briefing Thursday afternoon, but he went back into his office before the event was over. His staff explained that he was unable to come back out and take questions.
Motel 6 has not yet responded to requests for comment.