Crossroads RI to Expand Permanent Housing Solutions for the Homeless

Crossroads RI, one of the largest housing providers for previously unhoused people in the state, plans to convert a vacant lot on Summer Street in Providence’s south side into a new apartment complex.

The new development will expand Crossroads’ current housing offerings: A tower a stone’s throw from the new development site and managed by the organization will house 175 people in single rooms, Crossroads spokesman Mike Raia said.

“The development of the Summer Street apartment will provide our current residents of the Crossroads Tower with the opportunity to move into a real apartment, with their own bathrooms, kitchens, closets and living space where they can entertain friends and family,” Raia wrote in a statement. email to The Herald.

Plans for the new building, approved in April, indicate that the new complex will have five stories with 176 units and will be a net zero building with help from the state’s Zero Energy Buildings program. Tower residents will be moved to the Summer Street development, due for construction in the spring. The tower will then be renovated into 80 new “modern one-bedroom apartments,” Raia wrote.

The new project will aid the organization in its mission to provide permanent housing and resources to low-income and previously unhoused individuals, Raia noted. As required by law, residents of Crossroads homes typically pay 30% of their income.

Crossroads offers “permanent supportive housing, meaning residents also have 24/7 access to on-site case managers and/or housing coordinators,” Raia wrote.

Brenda Clement, director of Housing Works Rhode Island at Roger Williams University, also stressed the need for supportive housing.

“For most people, especially those who have been struggling for a long time, they need a lot of services and support to perform and succeed in the long run, to stabilize them and take them to the next level,” said Clément. “So groups like Crossroads and many other partners provide those critical services and resources.”

But while the latest Crossroads project is about to launch, the organization’s activities are not without opposition.

Dwayne Keys, head of the South Providence Neighborhood Association, criticized Crossroads for their “lack of transparency” in the planning process, as well as for “amplifying racism” and “not being a good neighbor or a good provider of human services.”

“A white-led organization tells black and brown people how their neighborhood is going to take shape, not discussion,” Keys said. “We want to ensure that the entire city participates in these efforts to provide adequate housing.”

He also criticized the organization’s level of support for tower residents that he witnessed over the past 18 years of living in the neighborhood.

“Other social service providers … have strong outreach coordination, strong staffing and support,” Keys said, referring to other organizations like Amos House, another South Providence provider that supports out-of-home individuals.

In response to this criticism, Raia stated that Crossroads held multiple public town hall meetings to hear community feedback on the building and emphasized the benefits of the new structure.

“There are residents in our tower who come to us in tears when they hear that they will have the opportunity to invite their grandchildren to Sunday dinner. This is an important project and there is broad support,” said Raia. “That support is unfortunately overshadowed by a small group of vocal individuals who have their own conflicting reasons for opposing the project.”

Even with these additional long-term housing options as the winter months approach, housing activists are concerned about the number of shelter beds available in the coming months, despite an additional 231 additional shelter beds being added this year.

“Crossroads’ new project focuses on long-term housing solutions, which is great,” said Emilie Lum ’24, an outreach volunteer for the Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere campus group, which coordinates volunteer and advocacy efforts to bring justice to the public. address the housing issue. “But in the meantime, that still leaves a few hundred people without anything.”

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