Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP)
The Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project was founded by a coalition of homeless and formerly homeless individuals who were concerned with the conditions faced by the homeless and the housing insecure. It is a grassroots organization that meets weekly to monitor the standards of shelters and service organizations, as well as the conditions for people sleeping on the streets. RIHAP was one of the first organizations in the state to run a nighttime street outreach program. It has been consistently involved in political campaigns that fight for the dignity of the homeless, and it passed Rhode Island’s Homeless Bill of Rights in 2012.
The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is the state’s largest non-governmental organization that works on homelessness and housing. Based in Pawtucket, its staff includes lobbyists, caseworkers and volunteers who facilitate trainings for service providers and outreach workers. RICH also holds many community meetings where members of the homeless advocacy community gather to brainstorm campaigns and legislation to secure the rights of the homeless, and to lobby for affordable housing. The Government Relations committee pressures legislators to use the political system to end homelessness in the state.
Direct Action for Rights and Equality is a grassroots community organization based on the South Side of Providence. It organizes low-income citizens and communities of color to work toward social, economic and political justice. It was founded in 1986 by a group of concerned Providence residents, and it has worked successfully on a range of social justice issues. DARE’s Tenant and Homeowner’s Association committee collaborates with HOPE. In 2014 they helped pass the Just Cause bill, which protects good, rent-paying tenants from eviction when their property is foreclosed upon. This law helps prevent one of the structural causes of homelessness in the state.
City Meal Site
The City Meal Site is a soup kitchen based in All Saints’ Memorial Church. Open every Tuesday from 4-5:45 PM, it serves as many as 200 people each week. Many of its clients are homeless. City Meal Site is unique in that it was founded by homeless people, and a large portion of its staff is homeless or formerly homeless. The City Meal Site is one of Rhode Island’s largest and busiest soup kitchens, yet it has never turned away a client for lack of food.
Street Sights is Rhode Island’s only monthly publication that centers around homelessness and housing issues. It was originally founded about 20 years ago, but it was reestablished in 2007. Street Sights publishes one free, 16-page issue every month and distributes 3500 copies around the state. It is available at soup kitchens, shelters, libraries and coffee shops. Copies are also distributed at the Swearer Center for Public Service and other locations on Brown’s campus.
Access to Community Care and Effective Services and Supports (ACCESS/RI) is Rhode Island’s wing of the national ACCESS program, run by Mental Health America. ACCESS/RI serves chronically homeless people who are diagnosed with mental health conditions or substance abuse. The program provides case management, psychiatric services and medical care, legal assistance and permanent housing assistance.