Why should they freeze to death?

The state stands by not helping the people although they have the money!

Allana Trombley

For two weeks, Senator Cynthia Mendes, along with many Rhode Islanders, is protesting for the homeless at the Rhode Island State House. They have been sleeping in tents outside to bring awareness to the homeless crisis.
The state of Rhode Island was given $1.1 billion in Covid relief funds for the public 10 months ago. $600 million of those dollars have not been spent. In May of this year, Continuum of Care contacted the government about the homeless rate rising and how these people will need warm homes and food for the winter. They provided solutions of exactly how to fix it. When did they get a response? October. Nothing has been done.
“I was raised to do whatever it takes to help the forgotten people,” said Senator Mendes, one leader of this protest, calling for the state to finally take action before winter is in full swing. “When I finally became a senator, and then found out I couldn’t do anything about this crisis because the people that are leading the state didn’t give a damn.” Sen. Mendes is a very outspoken woman and is willing to do what it takes for her beliefs to be echoed into reality.
“They won’t call a special session. They won’t spend the money…” Sen. Mendes said. “The three men that run this state have committed to the policy that some people should sleep outside. They have committed to greed and hoarding power and hoarding resources.” This mindset that Governor Dan McKee, Speaker Joe Shekarchi, and Senate President Ruggerio have taken, is causing hundreds of people to suffer with no way of getting out.
“There are people here where society has tried to erase them but they have survived and
now they are out here fighting for others to be seen,” Woonsocket Doctor Nithin Paul said. “There are people out here who have given their entire lives to fighting because that is who they are.”
Dr. Nithin often cares for many patients that are homeless and is instructed to have them call homeless shelters. When the callers are lucky, they might get through after an hour or longer wait time. The answer to their cry for help is someone telling them there’s no room — only to find out someone else got a place to stay after them.
“Today alone I had to tell a mother who had four children sleeping in a car that I could not help her,” said Christa Sowers. “My co-worker was texting me from the other room because there was another mother with a child sleeping in a car who we cannot help.” She runs a Community Care Alliance drop-in center and the task is taking its toll. There should not be a need for something like this.
The issue is supplies, or the lack thereof. The state is withholding the money that people so desperately need. The people in the state house, the government, governors, representatives and more are sitting on this issue without a care. Rhode Island has a strong community and this call for help has been answered by the people. Not the government.
On Mathewson St. in Providence, there is a Friendship breakfast run by many wonderful people. Food is served to over 100 individuals struggling with housing. Donations from people, including clothes, shoes, backpacks and other necessities help many of the homeless get back on their feet and be prepared to enter back into work. One of the organizers, Scott Budnick was helping at the protest, and serving as a security guard.
“Cynthia is my state senator and I’ve been involved in her campaign and supporting her
as a state senator since she’s been elected.” Mr. Budnick said. “I really admire her, frankly. Plenty of politicians get in there and are frustrated by the inaction; she said, ‘If you’re not gonna act I’m gonna act.’ It is working, the state feels the shame, as they should, and we’re gonna keep the pressure up.”
I went to this protest on Dec. 13. Two hours in the cold and I was already shaking and wishing I was somewhere warm. Think about the people who are sleeping nights out in the cold, in a tent, a car (with the engine off), or even on the bare ground. “It’s brutal” say many of the campers in front of the state house.
With just a small push and some funding, all of these homeless people will be able to get back on their feet, get jobs, get their education, and be able to feed themselves. A permanent solution is needed desperately and this protest is demanding one. We are demanding a solution to this crisis so no more people freeze to death. No more children shaking while their moms are unable to do anything. No more families and individuals having no way out.
When the government doesn’t take the call for help, the people will. They understand what needs to be done and are always willing to lend a helping hand. After all, if nobody is going to care for them now, who will care for us when something goes wrong?