Fresh off the success of their recently opened 24 Hour “Warming & Cooling Center” in Pawtucket, Nick Horton, Co-Executive Director of OpenDoors brings word of a new facility designed to meet the exploding needs for shelter, as well as transitional housing in Rhode Island.

Editorial Note: The Coalition would like to take a moment to congratulate the entire OpenDoors Team for their dedication and hard work in delivering concrete, in-place, working solutions that directly address the needs of the unhoused.

From OpenDoors:

Just in time for the winter, OpenDoors opened a new supportive housing and shelter program for women with children on Elmwood Avenue in Providence.  The Rhode Island Coalition to End Homelessness most recently reported that there are 58 families with children currently homeless and seeking shelter in their coordinated statewide waitlist according to their monthly capacity report and OpenDoors will be providing shelter to up to twelve of those families this winter. The first residents moved in last week and all bedrooms in the shelter filled up as of yesterday.

The program will be located in a 10,000 square foot group home previously operated as a rehabilitation center by Teen Challenge of New England. The RI Department of Housing will fund the program for the first five months while it is operated as a shelter.  After that period the building will be run as a transitional housing program with funding from the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Disabilities and Hospitals, the United Way, the RI Foundation, and the Papitto Opportunity Connection.

Dina Bruce, OpenDoors Deputy Director, said “The families moving in were sleeping in their cars with multiple children, it is tragic.  I’m just glad we were able to open before Christmas.”  OpenDoors is one of the largest operators of shelters and transitional housing in the state, operating a total of over 300 beds including shelters in Warwick, Pawtucket, and Providence already. Bruce added, “Right now we operate multiple shelters and transitional houses that are at capacity and that cannot accept children and we are constantly receiving requests for help from women struggling to keep their families together. It breaks my heart that we were not able to help them and now we finally can.” Beds are referred through the Coordinated Entry System which can be reached at 401-277-4316.

OpenDoors is thankful for the generous funding provided to make this project possible. The building was recently purchased and renovated by OpenDoors with capital funds from City of Providence Federal CDGB and ARPA grants as well as support from the Rhode Island Foundation and the Champlin Fund.

The building was sold to OpenDoors by 103 Evergreen LLC.  OpenDoors would like to thank Dustin Dezube and Kevin Diamond, who together own locally based Providence Architecture and Building Company, and have donated their time and services to help us repurpose the building to meet our needs.

Prior to opening up this program, OpenDoors conducted six community meetings about the project last Spring and made several major changes to the program design as a result of feedback. Forty-four neighbors signed a petition in support of the project and the majority of residents on adjacent blocks indicated support, including several neighbors that raised money for the project and helped with the garden. “We are really grateful for all the support,” said Nick Horton, Co-Executive Director of OpenDoors. “I know there are some neighbors that are worried about having more social services nearby, but I’m confident that this project can be part of the strong, positive community that already exists in this neighborhood.”

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