[Hpn] TENT CITY at RI Statehouse - People to End Homelessness PROTEST fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 24 Jun 2000 11:25:41 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - June 21, 2000


Associated Press Writer

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ Advocates for the poor set up three
tents outside the Statehouse Wednesday as a last-minute pitch to
draw attention to the state's overcrowded shelters.

They are upset that the budget proposal passed by the House
Finance Committee does not include $5.1 million for more affordable
housing. The House is slated to vote on the budget Friday and then
the proposal goes before the Senate.

The number of homeless people in Rhode Island increased 16
percent in 1999 from the previous year, according to Catherine
Rhodes, housing coordinator for The People to End Homelessness.

As a result, Traveler's Aid Society in Providence is overflowing
with people who have no place to sleep even though the social
service agency was never intended to be used as a shelter.

``There are women and children sleeping on the floor because
there's not enough beds. It's shameful,'' Rhodes said after a
Statehouse rally where lawmakers were booed by a small crowd.

The current budget proposal still includes $250,000 for 14
additional shelter rooms, Rhodes said.

Advocates like Bill Flynn, of the George Wiley Center, say
affordable housing is virtually extinct in Providence and other
Rhode Island cities. He says even though there is a strong economy,
people are still struggling with part-time, minimum-wage jobs.

``I'm tired of coming up here and testifying that affordable
housing is the biggest problem facing more people in this state,''
Flynn said at the rally.

This is not the first time the groups have set up tents. In
November, they wrapped themselves in blankets and slept on the
Statehouse lawn.

When asked how long people will be staying in the tents this
time, Rhodes said indefinitely.

The groups pitched their tents outside after they were told by
security they could not set up near Gov. Lincoln Almond's office
inside the building.

AP-ES-06-21-00 1921EDT
Received  Id AP100173A845E51D on Jun 21 2000 18:21


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