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Preventing Homelessness

The latest federal plan is a good place to start on strategies for preventing people from becoming unhoused in the first place. For several years, more people become unhoused than are being rehoused, which perpetuates and exacerbates emergency-level response. See the plan:

ALL IN: The federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness. December 19, 2022.

p. 11:

Prevent Homelessness

Strategies to reduce the risk of housing instability for households most likely to experience homelessness:

  1. Reduce housing instability for households most at risk of experiencing homelessness by increasing availability of and access to meaningful and sustainable employment, education, and other mainstream supportive services, opportunities, and resources.
  2. Reduce housing instability for families, youth, and single adults with former involvement with or who are directly exiting from publicly funded institutional systems.
  3. Reduce housing instability among older adults and people with disabilities—including people with mental health conditions and/or with substance use disorders—by increasing access to home and community-based services and housing that is affordable, accessible, and integrated.
  4. Reduce housing instability for veterans and service members transitioning from military to civilian life.
  5. Reduce housing instability for American Indian and Alaska Native communities living on and off tribal lands.
  6. Reduce housing instability among youth and young adults.
  7. Reduce housing instability among survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking, and domestic violence, including family and intimate partner violence.

Pages 61-69 of the plan flesh out how the USICH will accomplish these strategies.


Make the most of federal resources to stop increases in homelessness.

Maximize federal resources to House America 

House America is a program in which Rhode Island apparently has not participated.  See the extensive list of partners.

"House America: An All-Hands-on-Deck Effort to Address the Nation’s Homelessness Crisis is a federal initiative in which the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) are inviting mayors, city and county leaders, tribal nation leaders, and governors into a national partnership. House America will utilize the historic investments provided through the American Rescue Plan to address the crisis of homelessness through a Housing First approach."

Engaging Legal Services in Community Efforts to Prevent and End Homelessness (2017)


Excerpts from RI Consolidated Plan 2020-2024, p. 158-159:

Help low-income individuals and families avoid becoming homeless, especially extremely low-income individuals and families who are likely to become homeless after being discharged from a publicly funded institution or system of care, or who are receiving assistance from public and private agencies that address housing, health, social services, employment, education or youth needs.

The State of Rhode Island assists low-income individuals and families avoid becoming homeless through the following methods.

Foster Care
The Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) has a policy not to discharge clients into homelessness and has committed to this policy through a Memorandum of Agreement with OHCD. Children in foster care are not reunited with their families unless stable housing is secured. Families receive short term financial assistance and support services when housing is the primary barrier to reunification. Youth unable to go home are given the option of voluntarily participating in the DCYF-funded YESS (Young Adults Establishing Self Sufficiency) Aftercare Services which provides a stipend for housing and other wrap-around supports until the youth is 21.

Health Care
A Memorandum of Agreement between the Dept. of Health (DOH) and OHCD dictates that hospital patients are not discharged into homelessness. Patients remain hospitalized until they are healthy enough to move on to housing and receive case management support in developing a discharge plan. Discharge planners in assisted living facilities are trained to identify mainstream housing opportunities and to pair placements with Money Follows the Person (MFP) Program long-term care services.

Rhode Island will transition eligible individuals who are in a qualified institutional setting for 90 days or more into a qualified community-based residence. At the end of the demonstration period a total of 520 Phase I Medicaid beneficiaries will be transitioned into the community. The demonstration will use a coordinated system of care to assist a participant transition into and to successfully remain in the community, with the appropriate supports, so that they can experience more independence and a better quality of life.

Mental Health
A MOA between BHDDH and OHCD dictates that patients of mental health institutions are not to be discharged into homelessness. BHDDH supports the Housing First model with PATH and SAMSHA grants for client-centered permanent housing and funds new supportive housing for people with serious mental illness and developmental disabilities through the Thresholds program (administered by RIHousing).

The Prevention and Planning Unit of BHDDH provides planning assistance and services for the development and implementation of behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery support policies, programs and services. The Unit also administers federal block and formula grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, and the Department of Education. PATH funded services consist primarily of outreach, engagement, screening and diagnosis.

The fact that PATH services are provided through Riverwood Mental Health Services, a statewide CMHO, gives PATH clients access to a wide range of other services, including habilitation and rehabilitation; community mental health; alcohol or drug treatment; staff training; case management; supportive and supervisory services in residential settings; referrals to health services, job training, education, and relevant housing services. Riverwood also directs Rhode Island’s premier Housing First program, which provides priority access to permanent supported housing services for its PATH clients.

 Presentations to the House Low and Moderate Income Housing Commission:

**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

Recommendations related to the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act - One Neighborhood Builders, Feb 7, 2022.

Recommendationson proposed changes to the LMIH Act, RI Housing Network, Feb 15, 2022.

Working Group Report, Feb 4, 2022.

Here's One Way Some States are Boosting Affordable Housing. Stateline, Mar 2, 2022 (low income housing tax credits)

Funding Source Data about Affordable Housing (excluding funding from RI Housing), Nov 15, 2022