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Rhode Island to make $3.6M after selling group homes

November 9, 2021 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island has sold several group homes for more than $3.6 million, leading advocates to accuse government officials of ignoring requests to use state-owned property to shelter people as a housing shortage worsens.

In October, the state sold seven Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals group homes while in the same month at least 642 people went without housing for at least one night, The Providence Journal reported Tuesday.

Advocates said that the empty group homes could have been used to shelter the growing homeless population, as the lack of affordable housing has forced people to live in tents and cars in Providence.

But officials said that state law mandates that the group homes must be sold on the market after they are no longer in use for a year to service people with disabilities.

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Over the past several weeks, Gov. Dan McKee said the state has been working on exploring whether state-owned properties can be available to those who would want to convert the property into affordable housing.

Currently, the state has allocated $5 million to create 275 additional shelter beds. Also, McKee has proposed that the state dedicate 10% of its $1.1 billion coronavirus pandemic relief aid to expand access to affordable housing.

If approved by the legislature, the state would invest $15 million to kickstart the development and renovation of affordable housing, the newspaper reported.