For the first time since 2007, the number of homeless people in Rhode Island seems to be shrinking.
An annual count by the Coalition for the Homeless shows the number of Rhode Islanders who stayed in a state shelter shrank by 9 percent – from 4,868 in 2012 to 4,447 in 2013. Additionally the number of families, children and veterans who stayed in a shelter all decreased as well.
“We have long known how to end homelessness in our state, but we have needed the funding to make it a reality,” said Jim Ryczek, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless.
Providence College sociology professor Eric Hirsch, who oversees the annual count, said he thinks the decrease is a result of an improving economy and the Coalitions efforts ti implement its Open Doors plan to create permanent housing options for homeless Rhode Islanders. Last year the General Assembly approved $750,000 to create permanent housing.
“This legislative session can build on last year’s funding success by supporting legislation that continues to fund the solutions,” Ryczek said.
Hirsch added that there is a benefit to federal taxpayers to ending homelessness in Rhode Island.
“In addition to creating better outcomes for those Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness, housing our homeless makes good, sound fiscal sense,” he said. “My research shows a cost savings of $10,000 for the typical Medicaid user who was homeless, once they become stabilized with housing.”
These are the numbers cited in the count:
- 9% decrease in the overall number of homeless from 4,868 in 2012 to 4,447 in 2013
- 7% decrease in homeless families from 678 in 2012 to 631 in 2013
- 13% decrease in homeless children from 1,277 in 2012 to 1,117 in 2013
- 12% decrease for homeless veterans from 299 in 2012 to 264 in 2013
You can read the full press release here.