Rhode Island is facing another crisis in homelessness this winter. For the past three years, our emergency winter shelter system has been underfunded and overwhelmed by the amount of Rhode Islanders in need. This year, with an even greater number of Rhode Islanders needing shelter in the winter months, funding for for our emergency winter shelters will run out in early winter, just as the coldest months of the year arrive.
This year should be different. In the past, this crisis has been bandaged over by last-minute fixes and the generosity of our fellow Rhode Islanders. But this year, the State of Rhode Island has Opening Doors Rhode Island; the State's Plan to End Homelessness. The Plan can end this annual winter crisis once and for all. Instead of facing a crisis we know is coming year after year, we should devote our resources to stopping it in its tracks.
This year, Governor Lincoln Chafee placed an affordable housing bond in his budget that was approved by the General Assembly and passed by the vast majority of Rhode Islanders; a victory we can all be proud of. But affordable housing production alone won't take people off the streets, and it won't shelter those who are living in hastily-built tents or under bridges this winter.
We are asking you to join us in calling on Governor Chafee to take the next step and put funding for the Plan to End Homelessness in his new budget. With the Plan funded, we can end these winter crises, and begin providing stable housing for people to get their lives back on track.
Governor Chafee, it's time to fund the Plan and make the work of ending homeless a reality.
I find it a horrible turn of events that our state can allow our fellow Rhode Islanders to fall through the cracks like this, especially when it will mean death for more than a few of us. It's equally appalling to me that we can be willing to spend so much on keeping people in shelters, when our own plan demonstrates that housing people provides a better place from which to rebuild and for less cost as well.
As Governor, you've been admirable in taking action to reduce the burden on Rhode Islanders. I'm asking you to be the Governor I know you are, and take this next step and fund the Plan to End Homelessness, and stop homelessness as we know it.