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HOMELESSNESS

R.I. to spend $3.5m on additional shelter beds before winter

The funding, which was distributed to six organizations, will create 231 new beds for the state’s homeless population

An outreach worker speaks to a homeless person living outside in January 2022.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff

PROVIDENCE — As winter approaches, Rhode Island is distributing $3.5 million to six local organizations to create additional shelter space to help homeless people, the state housing department announced Friday.

The funding will allow organizations to create 231 new beds in addition to the 64 beds that were funded through the Consolidated Homeless Fund earlier this summer, according to the governor’s office.

Amos House Family Shelter in Pawtucket received more than $1.3 million, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center in Central Falls received nearly $967,000, Catholic Social Services of Rhode Island in Providence received $20,000, Sojourner House in Providence received nearly $181,000, Thrive Behavior Health in West Warwick received more than $827,000, and the Westerly Area Rest Meals Center, also known as the WARM Center, received more than $220,000.

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The $3.5 million in funding announced Friday is the first round of awards made after the housing department asked nonprofits to submit fully planned projects to add shelter space. Chris Raia, a spokesman with the housing department, said additional awards related to shelter expansion will be announced “in the coming weeks.”

“While our long-term goal is to take a comprehensive approach that diverts people from homelessness and ultimately functionally ends homelessness in Rhode Island entirely through the creation of supportive housing, expanding shelter capacity provides much-needed, immediate relief for individuals and families experiencing homelessness today,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal in a statement.

The additional shelter beds, while important, may not be enough to help the majority of unhoused Rhode Islanders.

According to data by the Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness, approximately 1,260 people — including children — were waiting for shelter in Rhode Island, and 522 of them were staying in places “not meant for habitation.”

“Last night, as the weather got chilly enough that many homes turned on their heat, we know of 370 people who slept outside,” said Caitlin Frumerie, the executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “We still have a way to go to address this growing crisis, but we will continue to collaborate until no one is living outside.”

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Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.