PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to provide housing assistance for people experiencing hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced over $1 million in federal funding to help the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) provide safe and supportive housing for individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

PHA is Rhode Island’s largest public housing agency, providing affordable housing to more than 12,000 residents in the City of Providence, and has worked closely with the state and non-profit agencies in its mission to provide safe and affordable housing to those most in need.

The Providence Housing Authority will use $909,432 of this new federal funding, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), to offer 75 Mainstream rental vouchers to stably house non-elderly persons with disabilities and their families.  PHA will also receive $99,162 in support of their HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program, which combines HUD housing vouchers with VA supportive services to help homeless veterans and their families find and maintain housing.

“COVID-19 has dramatically increased the need for housing assistance, and the necessity of rapidly moving more people away from homelessness and into more permanent housing could not be clearer.  I commend the Providence Housing Authority for doing everything it can to provide more Rhode Islanders with safe, affordable places to live.  These new vouchers are critical tools in helping communities effectively address homelessness and keep people safe during this pandemic.  I will continue working to expand housing opportunities and supportive services for our most vulnerable residents,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), which oversees federal spending for HUD programs.

“This funding is so critical given the challenges in our community that have been compounded by the pandemic and the widespread need for stable housing,” said Melissa Sanzaro, Executive Director of the Providence Housing Authority. “We are grateful to Senator Reed for the key role he has played nationally in expanding the Mainstream Voucher program and for his support for our efforts together with our statewide partners working to end homelessness in our state.”

With the 75 new vouchers, PHA will more than double the 65 vouchers that were previously awarded to PHA.  Preference will be given for most vouchers to households experiencing homelessness or those who have recently experienced homelessness and are ready to transition from a rapid rehousing or permanent supportive housing program; and also people seeking to transition out of nursing homes or other institutional settings.  All vouchers are awarded through referrals done by PHA statewide partner agencies: RI Continuum of Care, RI Office of Health and Human Services, and RI Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals.

Senator Reed helped include more than $7 billion for affordable housing and homelessness assistance programs in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  The CARES Act made new Mainstream vouchers available based on expressed need related to COVID-19, and  Senator Reed supported PHA’s application for these funds to provide relief for renters and enhance long-term housing stability in Rhode Island.

Mainstream vouchers are tenant-based vouchers that serve households that include a non-elderly person with a disability.  Non-elderly is defined by HUD as someone between 18 and 62 years of age.

PHA was previously awarded $181,273 in CARES Act funds earlier this year in May for 15 Mainstream vouchers.