Sen. Tassoni plans hearing on homelessness
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Sen. Tassoni plans hearing on homelessness

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STATE HOUSE, Providence, RI – January 10, 2011 – (RealEstateRama) — Senator John J. Tassoni, Jr. was reappointed Chairman of the Senate Committee on Housing yesterday, and immediately called a meeting of the Committee for next Tuesday to address the issue of homelessness in Rhode Island.

The meeting will be held Tuesday, January 11, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., in Room 313 of the State House.

Earlier this week, Senator Tassoni (D – Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Smithfield) visited Harrington Hall, an emergency overnight men’s shelter in the Pastore Complex in Cranston, as well as the Fran Conway House of Hope, an 11-unit permanent supportive housing program on Jefferson Boulevard in Warwick. The Fran Conway House of Hope is a bright example of success in transitioning out of homelessness, with 11 modest apartment units, a shared kitchen and living area, and employment training and a small business run by the residents located on the basement level. Both facilities are run by the House of Hope Community Development Corporation.

The night before the visit, Harrington Hall had provided shelter for 101 homeless men. The number of individuals typically grows over the course of each winter month.

“I applaud House of Hope Executive Director Jean Johnson, her professional staff, and those working in all of the other shelters in RI, for their work in very challenging conditions,” said Senator Tassoni. “Nevertheless, the visit to Harrington Hall re-affirmed what we already know about homelessness in Rhode Island. Overnight shelters are being overwhelmed by the number of homeless. Conditions in these shelters are far from ideal. There is a great need for more long-term solutions that transition the homeless towards self-sustainability. These are the issues the Housing Committee will examine on Tuesday and in future hearings, with a goal of finding practical solutions to address homelessness in Rhode Island.”

Senator Tassoni has championed housing issues throughout his career. He authored the Housing Act of 2004, which balanced the need for communities to plan for responsible growth with the great and continuing need for affordable housing in Rhode Island. Senator Tassoni co-chairs a joint legislative commission overseeing implementation of the Housing Act.

He has also championed the Neighborhood Opportunities Program, and won placement on the 2006 ballot of a $50 million bond issue, approved by voters, to provide these essential funds to subsidize affordable housing. Neighborhood Opportunities Program funds helped to make the Fran Conway House of Hope, which Senator Tassoni visited on Tuesday, a reality.

The agenda for Tuesday’s hearing includes a presentation on the status of the homelessness crisis in Rhode Island by: Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation; Nellie Gorbea, executive director of Housing Works RI; Jim Ryczek, executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless; and Jean Johnson, executive director of House of Hope Community Development Corporation (Harrington Hall).

The committee on Tuesday will also hear a presentation on the short- and long-term plans to remediate the homelessness crisis in Rhode Island by: Richard Godfrey, executive director of Rhode Island Housing; Susan Bodington, deputy director of programs for Rhode Island Housing; Kevin Flynn, associate director of the Rhode Island Department of Administration; and Brenda Clement, executive director of the Housing Action Coalition.

The members of the Housing Committee appointed yesterday are Senators: John J. Tassoni, Jr., Chairman; Frank A. DeVall, Jr. (D – Dist 18, East Providence), Vice Chairman; Elizabeth A. Crowley (D – Dist. 16, Central Falls, Cumberland, Pawtucket), Secretary; Paul W. Fogarty (D – Dist. 23, Burrillville, Glocester, North Smithfield); Nicholas D. Kettle (R – Dist. 21, Coventry, Foster, Scituate); Francis T. Maher, Jr. (R – Dist. 34, Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich); Juan M. Pichardo (D – Dist. 2 Providence); and Michael J. Pinga (D – Dist. 9, West Warwick).

House of Hope CDC manages 114 shelter beds under state contracts, as well as 30 permanent supportive housing units, with federal and private funding. They own and maintain 12 properties and are in various stages of financing/rehabilitation with another five properties which will total 12 additional units.

The hearing will be televised by Capitol TV, which is presented on Channel 15 for Cox and Full Channel subscribers and on Channel 34 for Verizon customers.

For more information, contact:
Greg Pare, Press Secretary for the Senate
State House Room 314
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 276-5558

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