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Johnston Lost 39 To Homelessness In 2011

New data shows 39 people who ended up spending the night in a homeless shelter last year reported their last physical address was in Johnston.

Of the 4,410 people who spent at least one night in a homeless shelter last year, 39 were from Johnston.

That number is about half of the count for North Providence (73), but more than triple the 11 Smithfield residents who were reported as homeless in 2011.

The new data comes from the Homeless Management Information System. Eric Hirsch, a professor at Providence College and chairman of the HMIS committee, said the numbers show which communities have been hit harder than the others during the bad economy.

Many of the homeless lost their homes to foreclosure — a trend that is continuing.

Last March, HousingWorks RI ranked Johnston seventh out of 39 cities and towns according to rates of foreclosure. The town’s 189 foreclosures recorded from December 2009 to December 2010 represented 3.03 percent of its 6,240 mortgaged homes.

Hirsch and other advocates gathered at the State House on Thursday to open a soup kitchen and highlight the growing problem of homelessness in the state.

One of the main issues, Hirsch explained, is that rents in Rhode Island are often unafforable for most people. In 2010, the average per-person cost of housing was $161 — but the average rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island was $1,165 per month.

“Right there is a reason for homelessness,” Hirsch said. “People can not afford 10 times the [per-person] rent.”

To keep rent costs within 30 percent of household income, Hirsch noted, would require $47,000 a year; the average income in Rhode Island is $30,000.

“The real surprise is that we don’t have tens of thousands of homeless people, and that’s because people have to double up with friends or relatives or wind up on the street,” Hirsch said. “So we know how to solve this problem. It’s really very simple: Provide affordable housing to people, and that will end homelessness.”

Last residence for homeless clients 2011:

                                                                                             

City/Town Lost to Homelessness Percentage Barrington 5 .1
Bristol 28 .6
Burrillville 8 .2 Central Falls 131 3.0 Charlestown 11 .3 Coventry 43 1.0 Cranston 306 6.9 Cumberland 24 .5 East Greenwich 14 .3 East Providence 80 1.8 Exeter 6 .1 Foster 9 .0 Glocester 6 .1 Hopkinton 13 .3 Jamestown 13 .3 Johnston 39 .9 Lincoln 13 .3 Little Compton 5 .1 Middletown 43 1.0 Narragansett 28 .6 Newport 166 3.8 New Shoreham 2 .1 North Kingstown 43 1.0 North Providence 73 1.6 North Smithfield 5 .1 Pawtucket 294 6.6 Portsmouth 38 .9 Providence 1480 33.6 Richmond 16 .4 Scituate 9 .0 Smithfield 11 .3 South Kingstown 51 1.1 Tiverton 6 .1 Warren 47 1.1 Warwick 160 3.6 Westerly 103 2.4 West Greenwich 8 .2 West Warwick 43 1.0 Woonsocket 304 6.9 Rest of New England 287 6.5 Rest of U.S. 398 9.0 Outside U.S. 41 .9

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