Media release

Launching initiative to jump start action on homelessness and housing shortage

The project team will work with local stakeholders to conduct research and analysis intended to support the development of a long-term housing strategy

The Rhode Island Foundation is launching a project to jump start action steps to address homelessness and boost housing creation. This work is in collaboration with and in support of the R.I. Department of Housing. Along with the Foundation, the funders include Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the Partnership for Rhode Island. A steering committee comprised of the funders and the United Way of Rhode Island will oversee the effort, which will engage a wide range of stakeholders, including key providers and leaders in the homelessness and housing sectors, around housing strategy, development, finance and organizational design across the private, public and social service sectors as needed.

“Given the transition in statewide housing leadership, as well as the opportunity presented by engagement from leaders across the governmental, nonprofit and civic worlds, there is an urgent need to advance statewide housing solutions. This work will support Rhode Islanders who are currently experiencing homelessness while catalyzing new housing development and strengthening the statewide housing ecosystem," said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation.

The initiative's three priority areas are identifying short-term solutions and associated actions to meet the needs of unsheltered Rhode Islanders; catalyzing new housing production and ensuring long-term organizational alignment and capacity within the R.I. Department of Housing. The initial fact base will better enable policymakers and housing advocates to develop an immediate action plan on homelessness and to undertake the significant, extended effort of developing the statewide strategy. The Foundation has engaged Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to support fact-gathering and analysis over the next couple of months.

The research and analysis will inform, but is separate from, the strategic plan that the R.I. Department of Housing is developing.

The announcement comes as homelessness grew in Rhode Island by nearly 50 percent from 2019 to 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Point in Time" data. According to HousingWorks RI's 2022 Fact Book, people earning the state's median household income of $70,305 cannot affordably buy in any Rhode Island city or town. In only one town—Burrillville—are households with the median renter income of $38,339 able to afford the average 2-bedroom rent.

In response, Governor Dan McKee, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio earmarked $250 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for housing in this year's budget.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential.