Providence College Professor Eric Hirsch Releases New Report on Homelessness

Jan. 23, 2019 – Providence, RI – Providence College (PC) professor of sociology Eric Hirsch released a new report on homelessness in RI. The report, which was authored by Hirsch in collaboration with Crossroads Rhode Island, Housing Works RI at Roger Williams, and the RI Coalition for the Homeless, is titled How to End Long-Term Homelessness in RI. The report is part of HousingWorks RI’s newly launched Scholar Series, which examines contemporary issues in housing by scholars and students.

“Every year on a Wednesday night in the last week of January, we count over 1,000 people experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Hirsch. “Roughly one hundred of those persons are at Harrington Hall, the state’s largest congregate shelter. Shelters do not solve the problem of homelessness. Let’s move Rhode Island from being a shelter state to a permanent housing state, and provide the housing units, rental subsidies, and services necessary to end long-term homelessness.”

The report suggests there are certain policies the state might consider adopting:

  • create a cabinet level Department of Housing and Community Development;
  • take steps to close Harrington Hall, and provide permanent supportive housing to those in need;
  • double the state’s Rapid Re-Housing funding from $2 million to $4 million annually;
  • fund 100 low restriction permanent rental subsidies;
  • support Pay for Success program to fund rental subsidies and supportive services for 125 chronically homeless persons over four years;
  • build or rehabilitate additional very low-income housing units.

In Rhode Island, there are between 4,000 and 5,000 persons experiencing homelessness annually. Rhode Island currently supports 1,239 permanent support housing units.

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars. It has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,000 students, and offers degrees in 50 academic majors. Providence College consistently has been ranked among the top five regional universities in the North according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.”