A Growing Number of RI’s Homeless Population Is Elderly

Nov 4, 2013

A new report finds Rhode Island’s aging homeless population is growing rapidly.  According to Crossroads Rhode Island, the number of aging homeless adults increased 34 percent between 2010 and 2012, whereas total homelessness increased only ten percent. 

Terry Jones has been off the streets for six years but he still pinches himself over his good fortune. Jones, who’s 71-years-old, is a resident of the Harold Lewis House in West Warwick, a home providing single or twin occupancy rooms for disabled, aging homeless adults.

The Harold Lewis House added more beds to the West Warwick facility.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

“Oh it meant a lot. You know you got a place to lay your head without worrying about being in the rain,” said Jones. “No snow. No nothing. Just sleep.” It’s nice to have a place to come home to, he said.

Jones has some new neighbors.  At a ribbon cutting, officials celebrated expansion of the Harold Lewis House from nine to 14 units. Anne Nolan, director of Crossroads Rhode Island, which runs the Lewis House, said there is a desperate need for such housing in Rhode Island.

“No, we don’t have enough. That’s the issue. The solution to homelessness is housing like this, like Harold Lewis House,” said Nolan. “All the funding is being cut for this kind of housing. And so we’re not providing what people need to not be homeless.”

Officials blame the prolonged recession for a 34 percent jump in the state’s aging homeless population over the last three years.

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