'HARVESTING' HELP FOR THE
By Emily Dupuis - The Sun
- Those who have long fretted the lack of shelter for local homeless families
have a plan; now, they say, they need the funding.
past six months, a steering committee of local church and non-profit
organization members has been developing a model to place one homeless family
into a fair-market apartment and share their cost of living under the maxim
Harvest Homes: Growing Homes for Families in Rhode Island.
Barry, executive director of the Westerly Area Rest and Meals (WARM) shelter,
said the upstart for the apartment is expected to cost at around $31,300. They
received a $10,000 grant from the Kimball Foundation and had hoped to receive a
$30,000 state grant, but learned it fell through last week.
-- headed by the established WARM shelter -- now needs to raise around $15,000
to be in line to place that first family in December.
confident. As of Thursday, the group had already moved $3,000 closer to that
goal, she said.
organization has partnered with the Local United Network to Combat Hunger
(LUNCH) to host a concert fund-raiser on Saturday at the Dunn's
Corners Community Church, Presbyterian.
concert -- featuring performances by children in grades 4 through 12 -- is
scheduled for 7 p.m., with a pre-show at 6:15 p.m., and costs $10
for adults and $6 for children.
going to be a great night with great music" for families, enthused Joy Cordio, a
member of the Harvest Homes committee.
nonprofit group founded in 1989 by Bill Pere, the ensemble continues the legacy
of the late singer, songwriter and World Hunger Year founder Harry Chapin,
raising money for social service agencies and non-profit groups.
said, exceeding expectations, they hope to collect at least $4,000 with the
show, putting Harvest Homes closer to its goal.
of the $31,296, Barry said, would cover rent at $700 a month, heat, electricity,
phone and a part-time case manager.
Homes would enter into the lease with the landlord and provide rent in
decreasing amounts as the family grew more able to contribute as well as
services including employment counseling, Cordio said.
two additional apartment available, Barry said they plan to apply for state
grants before July 1.
said three Westerly landlords have committed to the agency,
providing five units.
been very fortunate to have people (landlords) approach us," she added.
said both employed and unemployed families would be invited to fill out
apartment intake applications. However, the agency cannot take victims of
domestic violence who already have access to shelters and will not accept
individuals with drug or alcohol problems.
homeless families are working poor who cannot put down first and last's months
rent plus a security deposit in South County's high-priced housing
market where more affordable family units rent for at least $900 month, Cordio
documented homeless families in Washington County, 50 are from
Westerly, she said, adding these Washington County Coalition for Children
figures do not include those living with family or who choose not to seek help.
WARM Shelter stretches to accommodate as many as 24 individuals a night, it only
nothing in Washington County for children or for families," Cordio
said, noting the closest are in Pawtucket or Mystic.
Washington County families resort to living in beach motels, cars
and even barns through the winter months.
think people have a clue," she added of the number of homeless. "I think they
would be amazed if they knew."
strongly agreed, noting 50 families were recorded living in motels last winter
and she expects the number to rise this winter with energy costs.
to us who know about it to respond," Barry said. "I think it's my responsibility
that people get that knowledge."
stressed Harvest Homes strives to place families back on their feet, and will
likely evaluate tenants after 16 to 18 months to ensure they are progressing.
cannot make someone independent and self-sufficient," Cordio said. "They have to
be willing to work for it."
said depending on the family, she suspects some may be able to take over the
lease within two to three months while others may end up having to consider
other housing options.
Originally Published November 2005, The Westerly Sun