Rhode Island Coalition for the 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.

As temperatures sink in Rhode Island, the state’s homeless population is especially vulnerable.  Thermometers are expected to hover well below freezing through the weekend.   

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.

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.

A vigil is planned Monday evening for two women who died homeless, within days of each other, in the same cemetery. The vigil is meant to memorialize the women and prevent more such deaths.

Wendy Tallo and Irene Weh were both chronically homeless. And both women were found dead in Grace Church Cemetery in Providence, just recently. Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless head Jim Ryczek  says a candlelight vigil at the cemetery will not only honor the women’s lives.

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