PROVIDENCE — After weeks of complications, the state will open the Cranston Street Armory on Friday night as a 24/7 warming center for homeless individuals.
The governor’s office announced Friday afternoon that Amos House, a provider of services for homeless people, will staff the facility. However, their proposal to the state to run the warming station has not yet been approved.
A committee of the Continuum of Care board met Friday and reviewed the Amos House proposal. The committee, which is not subject to the state’s Open Meetings laws, can make recommendations.
“In our collaborative effort to serve all those who are unhoused in Rhode Island, we are thankful to Governor McKee and his staff for identifying this space and expediting this project, said Eileen Hayes, the CEO of Amos House. “For the many individuals who are currently without safe housing during the winter months, the Cranston Street Warming Station will provide warmth, safety, and an array of vital services.”
Plans to open the Cranston Street Armory have faced many hurdles since the state announced on Nov. 30 it would become a warming center for homeless individuals. Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Josh Saal sent a letter of intent to nearly 30 organizations on Nov. 30, soliciting proposals for operating the warming center. But none responded by the initial deadline of Dec. 7 or the extended deadline of Dec. 8.
Earlier this week, due to the lack of vendors submitting proposals, Governor Dan McKee authorized members of the Rhode Island National Guard to temporarily assist with the opening and operation of the proposed around-the-clock warming station.
Cots, blankets, water, and portable bathroom facilities were delivered last week by state employees.
Leading up to Thursday’s third deadline for proposals to run the warming station, many providers, which are mostly smaller nonprofits, had expressed frustration about the process to the Globe, saying there were plenty of limitations and complications to the proposal and the use of the armory.
The agency that staffs and operates the warming station will receive a maximum of $2 million from the state’s $1.13 billion in American Rescue Act Funds. Recipients are responsible for “all costs associated with operating the warming center,” including staffing, insurance, purchasing and leasing equipment and furniture, utilities, technology such as charging stations and WiFi, food for three meals a day for up to 50 individuals, transportation to the warming center, security, installing portable toilets and showers, and other items. And they cannot charge the state more than a 5 percent administrative fee.
This story has been updated with a response from Amos House.