Rhode Island Foundation, Downtown Improvement District, Providence Foundation Announce New Philanthropic Effort to Support Street Outreach and Intervention Efforts for Most Vulnerable Residents
December 8, 2021
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Providence City Council President John Igliozzi (Ward 7), Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Council Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Rhode Island Foundation President and CEO Neil D. Steinberg, Providence Foundation Executive Director Cliff Wood, Crossroads Rhode Island President and CEO Karen Santilli and community members joined together today to announce a collaborative approach to address homelessness and substance misuse for Providence’s most vulnerable residents.
Mayor Elorza, Council President Igliozzi, Council Finance Chair Ryan and Councilwoman Harris announced a $495,000 award to Crossroads Rhode Island to support a new citywide mobile diversion program for Providence residents experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Through this intervention initiative, Crossroads Rhode Island will assist individuals currently living in places not meant for human habitation to either regain permanent housing or enter a shelter or transitional housing program. Assistance can range from financial support for costs related to securing housing to referrals for mental and behavioral health supports.
“Our city and state are facing a housing affordability crisis and a growing need for mental health and social service supports,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This investment is just the beginning of allocating our Providence Rescue Plan dollars to supporting the crucial work of partners like Crossroads Rhode Island, who are dedicated to serving our unsheltered neighbors. Additionally, I am thankful for partners like the Rhode Island Foundation, Downtown Improvement District and the Providence Foundation who are collaborating with us to address this critical need in our city.”
The City of Providence allocated a portion of American Rescue Plan funding in July, prioritizing investments for homelessness interventions. Funding was finalized by a City Council ordinance and signed into law by Mayor Elorza.
“The City has emergency housing services dollars we need to put to use now,” said Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11). “Winter is coming and people experiencing homelessness need critical services as soon as possible.”
As the leading provider of housing and services for the homeless in the state, Crossroads Rhode Island has a proven track record of helping people find permanent housing through effective case management and other support services. With this increased support, Crossroads and its community partners are able to expand diversion and intervention programs for individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness throughout the city.
“The City of Providence is to be commended for making housing for its most vulnerable residents a priority,” said Karen Santilli, president and CEO of Crossroads. “This critical funding will allow us to provide homeless services directly to those who are sleeping outside. Armed with a laptop and hot spot, our Mobile Diversion case managers will go out into the community and connect people with the services they need to end their homelessness, such as housing problem-solving and one-time financial support.”
The Rhode Island Foundation, Providence Foundation and Downtown Improvement District today also announced the creation of the Healthy and Safe Providence Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, with the Rhode Island Foundation pledging to make a gift of $100,000, if $200,000 in contributions from corporate, institutional and private donations are committed to the Fund by December 31, 2021.
The Healthy and Safe Providence Fund will support evidence-informed outreach work, aimed at providing behavioral health, basic needs, and housing placement services to individuals in need in the downtown area. The fund will also support expansion of the Downtown Improvement District’s Clean and Safe Team to work collaboratively with outreach workers and local businesses, as employees and visitors travel in and around the downtown Providence area. Grantees of the Healthy and Safe Providence Fund will be selected by the Rhode Island Foundation’s experienced grantmaking team, and will be partnered directly with Crossroads’ citywide mobile diversion program so that the services and supports offered are complementary.
“We’re pleased to partner with our downtown neighbors to support solutions to the significant and growing need for outreach, behavioral health, and housing placement services in Providence. This work complements our long-time investments in healthy lives and housing,” said Neil D. Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. “We encourage contributions to the Fund, particularly from all downtown business leaders. A gift to this effort will make clear that you recognize the impact substance use disorders, untreated mental illness, and resulting homelessness have on individuals, and the community as a whole.”
The Downtown Improvement District has maintained a visible presence downtown for 16 years, with the mission of continuously enhancing the quality of life in downtown Providence.
“Today, we are celebrating our community’s efforts to build on and improve our approaches to addressing homelessness and to provide more robust wraparound services for those who are too often left behind,” said Senator Joshua Miller, Downtown Improvement District Chairman. “The Downtown Improvement District is dedicated to supporting our city’s most vulnerable residents, and we look forward to implementing this holistic approach that supports street outreach efforts as well as extended hours for our “yellow jacket” ambassador team to help make downtown a welcoming, comfortable place for all. The safety and attractiveness of downtown supports the health of area businesses and economic development, increases tourism and creates an enriched quality of life for residents and visitors alike.”
“The Providence Foundation is proud to be part of the Healthy and Safe Providence Fund, as we understand the interrelationship between public health and public safety,” said Cliff Wood, Executive Director of the Providence Foundation. “This partnership represents how a shared civic commitment across private, public and institutional sectors can efficiently and effectively address critical needs in our community.”
To make a gift to the Healthy and Safe Providence Fund, donors may contribute in any amount by clicking here, or may connect with Kelly Riley at or (401) 427-4028 for additional details.