EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — Rhode Island is earmarking $5 million for the creation of 275 additional beds for people dealing with homelessness.
Gov. Daniel McKee said Wednesday that as winter approaches, there are too many Rhode Islanders sleeping on the streets or in cars and the state must do everything possible to get them into emergency shelter.
“Our homeless shelter providers have been frontline heroes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” McKee said. “These much needed funds will allow them to provide critical services to Rhode Islanders who are experiencing homelessness.”
Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said the spending could go toward investments in existing shelters to provide more food services and other support services and staffing to carry out the work.
The Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness said the number of people waiting for shelter totaled 1,078 as of Oct. 30.
McKee also unveiled a number of investments for long-term housing, including a new development that will create affordable rental homes for Rhode Islanders and a supplemental budget proposal that would increase housing production.
“The state has taken major steps to address the affordable housing crisis this past legislation but more needs to be done, and the good news is we have the ability to do it,” McKee said.
The RI Rebounds plan, according to McKee, would use 10% of the state’s $1.1 billion in American Rescue Plan funding to expand access to affordable housing.
“The goal of this initiative is to increase the supply of quality, affordable and supportive housing,” McKee said.
If lawmakers sign off on the initiative, the state would invest $15 million to incentivize the development and renovation of affordable housing, as well as $12 million for a property acquisition grant program.
The R.I. General Assembly is still reviewing the $113-million initiative, though Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Pearson said lawmakers plan to discuss it further and possibly vote on it sometime after Thanksgiving.