RI Delegation Announces Over $2.5M to Help RIers Access Housing During COVID-19 Crisis

Aug 10, 2020 Issues: Housing

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to help low-income families shelter in place safely and connect to essential health and educational services amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Representatives Jim Langevin and David Cicilline today announced $2,552,658 in federal funding for 24 Rhode Island public housing agencies (PHAs) and two behavioral health centers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Choice Voucher Program.

The $2.5 million in funding is being awarded as part of the second round of the Housing Choice Voucher Administrative Fees included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and will enable the PHAs to address the health and safety needs of thousands of individuals and families statewide.  The federal funding will help the PHAs and health centers to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies, fund COVID testing, transport families to emergency care or other housing units to limit exposure to COVID, fund security costs to enforce stay-at-home or shelter in place restrictions, and more.

The participant is free to choose any housing that meets the requirements of the program and is not limited to units located in subsidized housing projects.  Housing choice vouchers are administered locally by PHAs, which receive federal funds from HUD to administer the voucher program.

Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), who led efforts to include the funding to help families with vouchers in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act stated: “With the pandemic continuing to impact our lives and economy and with plenty of Rhode Islanders struggling financially, this federal funding will help many of the hardest hit Rhode Islanders access food and medical supplies and help to connect their children to remote learning.  Our state’s PHAs have done great work in the past putting federal funding from this program to effective use assisting residents and strengthening our communities, and I am glad this funding will help them in their efforts to provide our most vulnerable populations with housing stability during this uncertain and difficult time.”

"Safe, stable housing takes on a new level of importance in a pandemic," said Senator Whitehouse. "I'm pleased to join Senator Reed, a national champion for affordable housing, to announce this federal funding, which will help ensure low-income families in Rhode Island have a safe place to live during this challenging time."

“The coronavirus pandemic is causing hardship for Rhode Island families, and it is crucial that the federal government continues to support the community agencies on the front lines,” said Congressman Langevin . “PHAs and local health providers are playing an essential role in keeping vulnerable community members safe and healthy.  Millions of Americans are still at risk of coronavirus and are facing impossible decisions daily as they do their best to stay afloat. From affordable, quality health care to housing assistance, we must continue to deliver resources to defeat this virus and leave no one behind.”

“No Rhode Islander should lose their home because of the pandemic,” said Congressman Cicilline. “These new federal resources will help keep working men and women in their homes during this public health crisis.  There is more that Congress will have to do.  The House has already passed nearly $200 billion in housing and rental assistance.  I will continue fighting until Republicans in the Senate stop blocking this urgently-needed relief.”

PHAs and other entities receiving funding include:

Providence Housing Authority: $609,461
Housing Authority of the City of Pawtucket: $191,959
Woonsocket Housing Authority: $166,412
Central Falls Housing Authority: $159,455
The Housing Authority of the City of Newport: $119,891
Cranston Housing Authority: $65,397
East Providence Housing Authority: $88,216
Town of Westerly Housing Authority: $39,202
Johnston Housing Authority: $49,257
Cumberland Housing Authority: $87,381
Warwick Housing Authority: $57,327
South Kingstown Housing Authority: $24,210
Burrillville Housing Authority: $16,420
West Warwick Housing Authority: $24,490
Coventry Housing Authority: $76,250
North Providence Housing Authority: $61,223
Lincoln Housing Authority: $30,889
Bristol Housing Authority: $47,587
Smithfield Housing Authority: $8,070
Warren Housing Authority: $53,151
East Greenwich Housing Authority: $32,002
Narragansett Housing Authority: $48,700
Tiverton Housing Authority: $15,862
Rhode Island Housing: $442,557
Kent County Mental Health Center: $18,366
Gateway Healthcare, Inc.: $18,923

Total: $2,552,658

HUD’s Housing Choice Voucher Program is the federal government's major program for assisting very low-income families, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities to afford decent, safe, and sanitary housing in the private market.  Since housing assistance is provided on behalf of the family or individual, participants are able to find their own housing, including single-family homes, townhouses, and apartments.