homeless

RIPR FILE

Advocates working to end homelessness in Rhode Island release their annual report card Thursday looking at Rhode Island’s homeless population. For the second year in a row, the number of homeless declined. Jim Ryczek, Executive Director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, spoke with Rhode Island Public Radio's Elisabeth Harrison to go behind the numbers.

Last month, hundreds of volunteers fanned out across the state to survey the state’s homeless population. They checked shelters, walked the streets and combed the woods; seeking out homeless residents and asking questions about their health and needs. The data were then compiled and analyzed by homeless advocates. Jim Ryczek executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless shared what they found with Rhode Island Public Radio’s Catherine Welch.

In late August, the power was shut off at the River United Methodist Church. The church, in the heart of downtown Woonsocket, was about a thousand bucks in arrears on its electric bill.  The guy from National Grid apologized for doing what he had to do.

Church members, who specialize in doing a whole lot with very little, scrambled to do what they always do.   They took food from freezers and refrigerators and headed to a nearby park to feed hungry people. 

Bucking a national trend, a new report finds Rhode Island saw a drop in homeless school children in the 2012-2013 school year.

The report from the American Institutes for Research National Center on Family Homelessness found 1,849 homeless children in the 2012-2013 school year. That was down from 1,984 homeless children the prior year.

Starting Monday hundreds of volunteers will fan out across the state to take a comprehensive count of the homeless. The goal is to understand their housing needs, and end homelessness in the state by the end of 2016.

They’ll check the shelters, walk the streets, and comb the woods seeking out the homeless, and asking a series of questions about their needs. Once the data are compiled, Coalition for the Homeless Executive Director Jim Ryczek will have a grasp on who needs immediate help.

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