The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) are the main federal agencies addressing homelessness. USICH is the only federal agency totally devoted to preventing and ending homelessness. USICH has straightforward guidance for states, and just published a strategic plan in December 2022:
ALL IN: The federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. December 19, 2022
It may be easier to get a basic understanding of federal homelessness programs by starting with USICH resources than by starting with HUD.
National Nonprofits with relationship to RI
RI State Government
?? The executive branch is apparently not following the law (R.I.G.L. 40-17), the legislative branch is not noting that required annual reports are not produced and exercising oversight (R.I.G.L. 40-17-4), and committees are making decisions without notice and accounting to the public ("Continuum of Care Board", although I found they meet with the Housing Resources Commission, which does give notice of meetings). ?? I found a [proposed (?)] organization chart dated 3/16/22 (p.3) and a clarification about the organization chart, but have not found some MOAs that would clarify how all of these entities relate to each other. I don't think I understand how the state government is organized. But the following agencies, councils, and boards exist or are supposed to exist. If any readers can clarify how the state is organized regarding homelessness, please let me know. - sk
- Interagency Council on Homelessness - R.I.G.L. 40 section 17. It is required to report to the Governor and the General Assembly annually. It apparently hasn't met in several years. The most recent minutes filed in the Secretary of State's Open Meetings section is for a May 11, 2016 meeting. In a letter to Secretary Saal on December 19, 2022, the Coalition to End Homelessness noted that since the summer they had urged the state to "Reenact Interagency Council on Homelessness, tasked with developing a State Plan to Address Homelessness."
- § 40-17-5. Advisory council established: "permanent advisory council to the interagency council on homelessness containing representation of advocates; service providers; members of the veteran community, including housing providers and a current or former homeless veteran; current and/or former members of the homeless community; as well as representatives specifically affiliated with youth homelessness."
- RI Interagency Council on Homelessness Memorandum of Agreement, entered into by State of RI, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), RI Foundation, RI Housing, and United Way of RI, June 21, 2011
- See R.I.G.L. 40-17 on one page.
- RI Housing (aka RI Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation) - Established by the General Assembly in 1973. See R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-55. HUD homeless funds come through this agency(?) It is "an independent corporation and shall serve as the housing finance and development division of the Rhode Island housing resources agency."
- RI Continuum of Care (CoC) - This process comes from HUD and it is located at RI Housing. However, there are problems finding out what is going on here. The Boston Globe reported on December 16 in connection with Amos House's proposal to staff the Cranston Street Armory warming center: "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." Who is on the board of the CoC? What committees does this board have, and who is on these committees? [Answers to these questions are below.] Why is this board not under the requirements of the open meetings act? Well, actually, according to the Governance Charter, p. 5, adopted November 4, 2021, "Notice of Membership Meetings. The Rhode Island Open Meetings Act will govern meetings of the RICOC Membership. The Continuum of Care Planner will send notice of the place, the date, time and agenda of each regular and special meeting by e-mail at least three (3) business days before the meeting date. If requested, notice may be sent by other reasonable means of communication." A search in the Secretary of State Open Meetings section on Continuum of Care found no listings. But it turns out that the Housing Resources Commission and the CoC Board meet jointly. See minutes for October 6, 2022 and November 3, 2022.
- CoC Board Committees (Charter p. 11): "With the exception of work performed by the Continuum of Care Planner, the Continuum of Care is operated by unpaid volunteers who are organized into several standing Committees to carry out the day to day work of the Continuum. The standing committees of the Continuum will include the:
• Equity Committee
• Governance Committee
• Grievance Committee
• Recipient Approval and Evaluation Committee
• System Performance and Coordinated Entry System Advisory Committee
• Veterans Committee
• Youth Advisory Board and Unaccompanied Youth Committee, (p.46 of youth plan) Members of the board and committee are on p. 67 of the youth plan pdf. The plan also lists 82 stakeholders (pdf pp. 68-70).
• Youth and Families Committee, p.46
The Standing Committees are further discussed in Article VII.
- The 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan, p.7, references the CoC Board: "The Governance Charter for the Rhode Island Continuum of Care (RICoC) requires its Board of Commissioners to provide information for the Consolidated Plan (see PR-10). Various members of the RICoC Board provided recommendations on goals and outcomes while also referencing important resources that were used in developing the sections in this Plan’s homelessness strategy, its institutional delivery structure, needs, goals and outcomes."
- Office of Homelessness and Consolidated Homeless Fund - not sure what the authorization is for this. It seems to be an agreement among Pawtucket, Providence, Woonsocket, and the state. Read the Consolidated Homeless Fund Policies and Procedures Manual (62pp). On p. 3, it lists the agencies involved: "In 2012, the Emergency Solution Grant (ESG) Entitlement Cities of Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket joined with the Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD), Housing Resources Commission and The Rhode Island Department of Human Services to create the Consolidated Homeless Fund Program (CHF) Partnership." To what agency/department does the Office of Homelessness report?
- Department of Housing (became official January 1, 2023) - R.I.G.L. 42-64 and § 42-64.19-3(a)(4). How are the other housing agencies related to this new department? OHCD reports to it, but RI Housing is independent.
- Other agencies - Interagency Council members include Health Dept, Elderly Affairs Office, and more.... Some MOAs between some of these agencies and OHCD are referenced in the 2020-2024 Consolidated Plan pp158-159.
Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) As of January 1, 2023, the Secretary of Housing has direct oversight over OHCD. From its website: "The mission of the Office of Housing and Community Development (OHCD) is to provide opportunities for healthy and affordable housing through production, lead hazard mitigation, and the coordination of the homeless system and implementation of the State’s plan to end homelessness. [But HMIS is overseen by the CoC, which is in RI Housing] OHCD provides financial and operational support for all housing programs administered by the Housing Resources Commission (HRC), including a rental assistance program, which will provide housing to homeless individuals and families by non-profit homeless service providers. OHCD’s Community Development branch administers the federal Community Development Block (CDBG) program, and related programs." The OHCD website has 2015 information and no apparent updates. Confusing. It mentions CoC, but CoC is in the independent RI Housing(?)
- Housing Resources Commission - R.I.G.L. Title 42 section 128, the RI Housing Resources Act. Established in 1998 and is supposed to have 28 members. Is this commission free-standing, or does it report to some department? [Jan 2, 2023 I found a [proposed (?)] organization chart dated 3/16/22 (p.3) that shows HRC reports to the Secretary of Housing.] "There shall be, as a minimum, the following offices within the commission: the office of policy and planning, the office of housing program performance and evaluation, the office of homelessness services and emergency assistance, and the office of community development, programs and technical assistance. The commission may establish by rule such other offices, operating entities, and committees as it may deem appropriate (42-128-9). "The commission shall submit for each calendar year by March 1 of the next year a report to the governor and the general assembly on its activities and its findings and recommendations regarding housing issues, which report by census tract, shall include the number and dollar amount of its programs and an assessment of health related housing issues, including the incidence of lead poisoning" (42-128-16). It meets several times a year, sometimes with the CoC Board. This group discusses homelessness, according to recent agendas and minutes, including continuity of care, availability of beds, and youth homelessness.
- House Low and Moderate Income Housing Commission (LMIHC)- Established in 2016 (H7989). Its reporting deadline was extended in 2017 (H6260). 2018 FInal Report has copies of the resolution creating the commission, and responses of towns and cities to RI Low and Moderate Income Housing Act (45-53), but unfortunately this document is an image so text cannot be copied and links don't work. The commission was recreated in 2021 by H5359subA in part because some cities and towns were "seemingly disregarding the benchmark" of at least $10% affordable housing. **Slides describing purpose. Several other slide presentations. **A Holistic Approach to Affordable Housing, Richard Godfrey, Feb 1, 2022. Presented to the House Low and Moderate Income Housing Commission. Notes on this presentation. Letter from Richard Godfrey, Jan 28, 2022. Also see Documents page. Other documents on the commission's web page may also be useful. I selected just a few. Recordings of the commission's hearings, from July 27, 2021 to date are available on the RI General Assembly website.
- House Land Use Commission -Established in 2021 (H5950). Had a reporting deadline of April 2022, but it is still meeting, with an extension now to June 8, 2023 in the 2022 session (H7576). Its documents page also has interesting reports, and its hearings are recorded and available on the GA website. This committee sometimes held joint hearings with the LMIHC.
On HUD Exchange there are Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Reports (CAPER) for Cranston, East Providence, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and Providence; Annual Action Plans for Cranston, East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, and Woonsocket; and Consolidated Plans for Cranston, East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Rhode Island, Warwick, and Woonsocket.
[more to come]
Nonprofits - Lists of Organizations and Coalitions
There are dozens of nonprofits working on homelessness. These lists do not include every organization involved. It would take a lot of time to describe their work. Some get state and/or federal funding, but not all.
27 Agencies receiving new CHF grant funding in July 2022:
• Amos House
• Better Lives RI
• Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center
• Catholic Social Services
• Child and Family Services
• Community Action partnership of Providence County
• Community Care Alliance
• Crossroads RI
• Domestic Violence Resource Center
• Elizabeth Buffum Chace
• Family Services of RI
• Foster Forward
• House of Hope
• Housing Network of RI
• Lucy’s Hearth
• McAuley Ministries
• Newport Mental Health
• One Neighborhood Builders
• Providence Community Health Centers
• RI Coalition to End Homelessness
• Sojourner House
• Tri- County Community Action Program
• Turning Around Ministries
• Washington Services Corporation
• Welcome House
- Some organizations are on multiple lists.
- Coalition to End Homelessness - 40 member organizations using the HMIS
- Homes RI (formerly Housing Opportunities Initiative) - 75 organizations
- Housing Network of RI - 16 organizations
- RI Housing Government and Nonprofit Assistance Providers
- RI Housing Resources Commission - 28 members
- Organizations working on Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project 2022 - 8 organizations
- RI Continuum of Care Agency Performance Evaluations 2022 - 27 organizations
- Lists of people and organizations who wrote 2006 Homelessness Action Plan