Newport tackles homelessness

Providence, RI – A new program is helping the city of Newport get a handle on its homelessness problem.

56-year-old Michael Monroe has lived on the streets for the better part of the last ten years - sleeping in friends' homes, railroad yards, even cemeteries. But now, thanks to a three-month old program called Housing First he shares a clean two bedroom apartment with a roommate.

"It's great. It's great to have a house to live in," he says. "I'm not out in the cold anymore. I don't think I could have made it another winter. This is the best thing that ever happened to me."

Housing First uses Rhode Island Housing dollars to pay for two thirds of a homeless person's rent. It also provides an array of mental health and substance abuse programs.

The cost per homeless person is about $20 thousand a year. That's $10 thousand less than the cost of housing a person in a homeless shelter and attending to all the problems that stem from the experience.

The goal of Housing First is to end chronic homelessness.

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