An underserved population to receive important supportive services
Westerly – April 16, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Town Manager Steven Hartford joined the WARM Center, Rhode Island Housing, HUD, Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) and the Corporation for Supportive Housing on Friday to celebrate the completion of a $2.24 million revitalization effort in Westerly.
This new development, the Rev. Jean Barry Center for Social Services, that honors the WARM Center’s long-time executive director, consists of eight new affordable rental homes as well as first-floor office space that is home to administrative offices, the Center’s meal site, Anita’s Kitchen, a work-appropriate clothing program, Attire for Hire, as well as other social services, such as job training and counseling.
“The new Rev. Jean Barry Center for Social Services will provide affordable rental housing and critical support services to Rhode Islanders in need. I am pleased to have worked to ensure funding for this important project that will not only give more folks an opportunity to build a better life, but also recognizes the accomplishments of Rev. Barry,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who secured a $292,200 federal earmark to help finance this project.
The creation of these new homes and Center on Spruce Street replaced an outdated former bakery with energy-conserving homes and office space that are helping to transform the neighborhood. The new building includes six 1-bedroom affordable apartments and includes services for low-income individuals with physical or mental disabilities. Also part of the development are two 2-bedroom apartments on nearby Pierce Street.
“This is yet another example of WARM’s and Rhode Island Housing’s great work to ensure all Rhode Islanders have access to shelter and a warm meal,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who worked with Senator Reed to secure $292,200 in federal funding for the shelter’s kitchen program. “This new center will provide housing and essential services for some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable, and I’m proud to celebrate its opening.”
The new building is adjacent to WARM’s existing site on Spruce Street less than one mile from downtown Westerly. Residents have access to public transportation and a busy town center with employment opportunities, recreational facilities and supportive service organizations.
“Westerly is so fortunate to have WARM in our community,” said Westerly Town Manager Steven Hartford. “These beautiful new homes are a real success story for WARM and for our community. This shelter and this meal site provide a comfortable and welcoming place of refreshment and rest for some of our neediest citizens. What a tribute to Reverend Barry’s life work.”
Last year WARM served an estimated 35,000 meals (100 meals a day/7 days a week) from a 12×12 kitchen to a dining room with a seating capacity of 20-25 people. The new Center provides for improved services and accommodations for the estimated 50 people that come for each meal. The federal appropriation sponsored by Senators Reed and Whitehouse funded the new meal site. Other funding sources for the development include WARM funds, HOME, HUD’s 811 program and Thresholds. The 811 and Thresholds Programs support homes for very low-income disabled adults.
“HUD is proud to be a partner in helping to deliver affordable housing, meals and other critical services that will be provided through the WARM Center Shelter,” said Barbara Fields, HUD New England Regional Administrator.
All homes offer handicap-accessible entrances, and one is ADA handicap accessible. The development integrates disabled persons and their families into an established residential neighborhood while providing the supportive services essential to the stability of the target population.
“I congratulate the WARM Shelter on the opening of their new development,” says Craig Stenning, Director of the BHDDH. “A place to live is critical to a person’s health and well-being and provides individuals with the opportunity to become productive members of society. We are proud to be a part of this project, and to know that 3 of these units will be homes for individuals with developmental disabilities.”
“This initiative represents the state’s vision to move from a state of shelter to a state of housing. The development and supportive services strategically address the lack of permanent affordable housing with supportive services to end the cycle of homelessness in Westerly,” said Michelle Brophy, Director of New England Program, Corporation for Supportive Housing/Interagency Council on Homelessness. “It is another example of the importance of collaboration among the federal, state and local leaders to move our plan to end homelessness forward.”
Ground was broken on 54 Spruce St. in January 2012 and construction was completed in January 2013. WARM provides the residents of the shelter with case management, evaluation (physical and mental health), information concerning housing opportunities and job development.
“Over the past several years WARM has seen a significant number of first-time homeless. These are individuals who were living paycheck to paycheck and now, because of layoffs and a continuing recession, are unable to pay their utilities or rent,” said Russ Partridge, Executive Director of WARM. “By providing homes coupled with supportive services, we are working to close the door to homelessness and provide services to get people back on their feet.”
Construction projects, like the work being done here will not only provide much-needed affordable homes but are also putting Rhode Islanders to work at a time when unemployment numbers are soaring. For these new homes, the Rhode Island-based contractor Stand Corporation of Warwick employed more than 80 construction workers, engineers, architects and others during the duration of the project.
“Good homes are the foundation of healthy, happy and prosperous individuals, families and communities,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “Today we celebrate the creation of eight good homes and dedicate them to Rev. Jean Barry, a wonderful advocate for good homes for all members of our community.”
About the WARM Center: Westerly Area Rest Meals, Inc. (WARM) was incorporated in 1987 to provide shelter and meals to homeless people in conjunction with local churches. WARM offers each guest three basic expressions of hospitality: a warm meal, a warm bed and a warm welcome, as well as related social services and advocacy. Six churches in Rhode Island and one in eastern Connecticut kept the shelter and soup kitchen open between November and March only. The shelter and the soup kitchen rotated nightly between several locations: Pawcatuck Seventh Day Baptist Church, St. Pius X Church, Christ Episcopal Church, St. Michael’s Church, Immaculate Conception Church, Pleasant Street Baptist Church, and Central Baptist Church. For over 25 years WARM has been serving the community’s most vulnerable. The shelter now serves over 20 communities in Washington County, RI and New London County, CT.
Rhode Island Housing: Together with its partners, Rhode Island Housing works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. Rhode Island Housing uses all of its resources to provide low-interest loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, Rhode Island Housing is a privately funded public purpose corporation.
Russ Partridge 401-596-9276 rpartridge (at) warmshelter (dot) org
Mary Kate Harrington, mharrington (at) rhodeislandhousing (dot) org, 401-450-1356