Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless

Veterans’ group Operation Stand-Down is leaving the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. The move follows a disagreement over homeless veterans.

The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is taking part in a national effort to combat homelessness known as Zero:2016. Through that effort the organization has housed more than 160 veterans this year. This week the group said it was on track to end chronic homelessness among veterans in Rhode Island.


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.

Thanks to legislation that passed the General Assembly, banks in Rhode Island will not be able to evict renters in properties they’ve foreclosed on. That is, unless there’s just cause or until the property has been bought by a new owner. Rhode Island Coalition for the homeless head Jim Ryczek said the new law will protect people who might otherwise have nowhere to go.

“When the economy tanked in 2007-2008, the shelter system saw more than a 300 percent rise in the number of people coming in and naming eviction as one of the issues that caused them to be homeless.”

We’re in for a wild week in the weather department.  The forecast is for rain today with a high of 48. But by tomorrow the high will plunge into the teens.  One population that is most vulnerable during these cold snaps is the homeless.

StoryCorps Comes To Rhode Island

Dec 5, 2013
John Bender / RIPR

Story Corps, the organization that collects the voices and histories of people across the country is in Rhode Island.

It is a chance for homeless residents across the state to tell their story.

In the offices of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, pairs of Rhode Islanders interviewed each other. One of them had experienced homelessness, and they talked about their lives on the streets.

Richard Staples interviewed Don Larson, a man who was homeless when he was 16-years-old.

Rhode Island Nonprofits Feel the Squeeze

Apr 16, 2013
Flo Jonic/RIPR

It’s hard to turn on the news these days without hearing about another nonprofit in financial trouble.  Advent House – the state’s first homeless shelter – is without a director because it can’t afford one. John Hope Settlement House is bleeding $30,000 a month. And the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence has laid off a third of its staff.

Remembering the homeless who have died

Jan 24, 2013
Stained glass window at Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul
courtesy CathedralProvidence.org

A service was held in Providence Wednesday to honor all the homeless people who died in 2012.
The service was held at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The names of 44 individuals were read and candles were lit in their memory.  A 45th candle was also illuminated in case they missed anyone.