Public Services

As pandemic intensifies, the homeless are at greater risk. What’s being done?

“My administration is working very closely with all of those advocates. In addition, we are in the process of procuring or leasing several hotels where we will be able to quarantine folks who are homeless so they can be there safely,” said Governor Raimondo. At her daily press briefing, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was ask, “What is being done
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Published on March 31, 2020
By Steve Ahlquist

“My administration is working very closely with all of those advocates. In addition, we are in the process of procuring or leasing several hotels where we will be able to quarantine folks who are homeless so they can be there safely,” said Governor Raimondo.


At her daily press briefing, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo was ask, “What is being done by the state to help homeless advocates who are trying to reduce the density in the congregate shelters, especially Harrington Hall, Crossroads Women’s Shelter, Emmanuel House, and the Rescue Mission?”

It should be noted that homeless people have underlying health conditions, 75 percent are smokers, and they are living very close to one another in shelter settings. Homeless advocates have been expressing frustration that reducing density in shelters has not been a priority.

“My administration is working very closely with all of those advocates. In addition, we are in the process of procuring or leasing several hotels where we will be able to quarantine folks who are homeless so they can be there safely,” said Governor Raimondo. “But I would like to give Brett Smiley, my Director of Administration a minute because we have a lot going on in that area.”

Brett Smiley, Raimondo’s Director Administration, clarified:

“As the Governor and Dr Alexander Scott have talked about a few times, this virus seems to be impacting those most vulnerable especially hard. That’s no more true than anything with the Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness. So we have had a team in place for some time and as the governor referenced, we do now have in fact emergency shelter situations available for those experiencing homelessness who need to be quarantined or isolated. Those structures are in place.

“The next step is for us to work on de-densifying the congregate settings and we’re working closely with advocates and are making progress along those lines.

“And finally, as we all do our best to meet the needs, this is a good time to thank and remind Rhode Islanders that the joint effort between the Rhode Island Foundation and the United Way to marshal both philanthropic and corporate support to bolster the social safety net is really helping fill those gaps. And so we want to thank the Rhode Island Foundation, the United Way, but also ask all Rhode Islanders, corporate charities and other philanthropists who might be able to chip in. Government is doing its best to meet these needs and we will continue to make progress with the homeless advocates. But there is a role for private sector, social service agencies to play as well. And so we appreciate any additional contributions and support that you can give them at this critical time.”

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