Rent Relief RI
We would like to share with our community that Rent Relief RI is currently open for applicants. Rhode Island has received $200 million in rent relief funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program.
This program will provide rental and utility relief payments to help eligible renters maintain housing stability. This program is only for renters and their landlords, including some renters and landlords in subsidized housing programs.
Now more than ever, ensuring that children and their families have a safe place to call home is saving lives in our community. It is incredibly important for families to be able to shut their door and be together, no matter what is going on in the world outside.
We are deeply grateful for your kindness, which made it possible for 46 families, comprised of 108 children and 62 adults, to stay together and stay safe this year.
Won’t you join us by making a donation to support a homeless family at Lucy’s Hearth?
From our Lucy’s Hearth family to yours, we send our warmest wishes for a very safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!
Singing For Shelter, the annual Christmas concert featuring Newport-area musicians raising money for local homeless shelters, is going virtual this year.
“Because COVID is preventing us from all gathering in one place on one night, we decided to offer a series of home concerts, featuring our local musicians going live from their living rooms on Facebook,” Singing For Shelter co-founder Mark Gorman said.
Beginning on Dec. 5 and continuing almost until Christmas, there will be 20 ‘living room concerts’ involving a total of 50 local musicians, all raising money for Lucy’s Hearth and The McKinney Shelter.
“Can you imagine being homeless at Christmastime in the middle of a national pandemic” Gorman asked. “ We’re very grateful to all these musicians for once again stepping up to help their homeless neighbors during this unprecedented emergency. Singing For Shelter has raised over $85,000 for these shelters, due to the generosity of our musicians and the unwavering support of our wonderful island community.”
Written by: Simon Leek
Antonia had come up against a familiar wall. She was all set to move, along with her husband and their five grandchildren, out of the housing at Lucy’s Hearth and into an apartment. She was ready, thanks in large part to the independence-geared services provided by Lucy’s and Crossroads RI, to move into her own housing. Despite the work that Lucy’s had done to keep operating during the pandemic, the desire to move into a new, private space pressed upon her now more than ever.
Only she had little hope of finding a suitable place on her own. Not for lack of enthusiasm or vision; she knew what she was looking for, she knew the price range, she could anticipate what might come up in the negotiation—but she lacked the language.
Antonia, 65, and her husband, 72, have Spanish as their first language, with little English between them. Her grandchildren, who range in age from 8 to 16 and are fully bilingual, could take on some of the translating (as children in such situations often do), but she knew from experience that would require their passive participation in conversations she might not want them to have to deal with just yet. In counselling at Lucy’s Hearth, for instance, in the early sessions when the children were translating it was difficult to have the necessary frank conversations about finance, about past troubles, about anything that Antonia might not want not her grandchildren to know about. So their progress through Lucy’s Hearth’s transitional program stalled.
Luckily for Antonia, a recent grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield RI—called the Blue Angel grant—had just been awarded to Lucy’s Hearth for the establishment of a housing navigation program. Carolyn Belisle, Managing Director of Community Investment at BCBSRI, saw promise in the program and was crucial in securing the sizable grant toward its development. This connection should come as no shock to people familiar with the long-standing reputation BSBSRI has as a charitable force behind advances in health equity in RI. Lucy’s wasted no time in putting this money to good use, hiring Maria Figueras as their first bilingual housing coordinator in late spring.
Maria’s involvement completely changed the course of Antonia’s family’s case. Since she was able to conduct sessions directly with Antonia, progress came much quicker. It is said that someone is most themself when speaking in their native language(s), operating through the fewest layers possible; which is to say: bilingual support in social work is more than critical for logistical reasons, it gives the social worker the best access to their patient. Or, as the famous Mandela paraphrase goes: “if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.”
So when it came time to look for housing, Antonia asked Maria to help her find and secure a place. Antonia had qualified for a 9-month rent voucher from Crossroads RI, but it was August in Rhode Island and with COVID concerns still very much in place the search was slow going. At first, every place that Maria found was either too expensive, was uneasy about taking seven tenants into a small apartment, or would refuse to take voucher tenants at all. Eventually though, in early September, Maria found a place that fit Antonia’s requirements, reached out to the landlord, Shannon, and set up a meeting. Along with another bilingual councilor from Crossroads, they went to tour the place and meet with Shannon.
During the tour and negotiation process, Shannon says Maria was crucial. As Antonia looked excitedly over the kitchen and the potential bedrooms, Maria translated the usual landlord-tenant inquiries back and forth, as well as serving as a reference for Antonia and her family when usually Shannon would have gone to a past landlord. The promise of continuing support (from both Maria through Lucy’s and from Crossroads) assuaged Shannon’s fears about taking on a tenant out of a situation like Antonia’s. A small sum was added to the rent price to cover what Shannon projected to be the extra water use of having seven people in a three-bedroom apartment, and the deal was made.
They moved in September, just in time for the start of the school year. Maria, who helped them move in, said that the kids immediately ran to the rooms, playfully claiming and setting up their rooms. Antonia, for her part, came back to a kitchen she was glad she hadn’t had to compromise on and began to set things up for their first meal in the new home.
So now a whole new life unfolds before Antonia and her family. The children are enrolled in the local school district and have been attending school (such as it is right now) all fall; Maria has been helping them furnish the apartment. Every week during her visit she says the kids pull her to the bedrooms to show her new decorations they have made, new imprints on their own space. Maria is helping Antonia look for work, a very useful help for Antonia considering the pandemic’s effect on the job market. Shannon says its going perfectly, that the kids are very respectful, that they are looking to be excellent tenants. Antonia and her husband, she says, have been very grateful to her—they are the third set of tenants that she has taken on from Crossroads, and thanks in part to the way that Crossroads keeps such arrangements economically safe for landlords like Shannon, she doesn’t expect they will be her last.
Maria too, is very pleased with the outcome and feels the thanks of the family when she makes her visits. The kids, she says, are elated to have a private space to call home. Antonia and her husband, too, are grateful to have a Spanish-speaking confidant as they adjust to the new setup. “You have a golden heart,” Antonia told Maria. “I just love seeing their face with a smile,” Maria says. “Being able to help people starting from nothing, who don’t have a lot of resources…it makes me happy to see her get going again.”
Language is worth much more than communication. Without people like Maria, it can isolate its speakers from other people but also from resources, from help. Maria’s role is less about translation capacities (this would be the English-centered view of it) and more about meeting Antonia in the most comfortable territory and easing the anxieties of that isolation so that the transition to life back out in the world can be as successful as possible.
There are other families at Lucy’s in the same situation Antonia’s family was, families grateful to have Maria there to facilitate and to talk to. The COVID-19 pandemic is both harder on the unhoused populations that it infects and creating more and more unhoused people thanks to the recession. But Lucy’s can only house so many and during the current crisis—where the unemployment rate in RI has yet to fall back under 10% and the phones have not stopped ringing at Lucy’s for months—accelerated housing navigation can drastically change the course of not only the newly housed person moving out, but the currently unhoused person who can now take their spot. Thanks to the support of organizations like Blue Cross Blue Shield RI, individual donors, and hard-working counselors like Maria, this important work has been able to continue and even expand when RI needs it most.
“I’m sobbing, [this is] the best virtual fundraiser I have seen!” That is what one Lucy’s Hearth supporter said at the annual Live from Lucy’s event last night, where the community came together to raise money and awareness for Lucy’s Hearth, the only homeless shelter providing private apartments for families as they get back on their feet.
The event was hosted with so much love by actress Rose Weaver who showcased the “groundbreaking work” Lucy’s Hearth is doing and the impact that support from people like you has on those who live there. The event truly made you think about how nothing can be taken for granted – homelessness can happen to anyone.
One child living at Lucy’s, CeeCee, tugged at the heartstrings of all the attendees, and made everyone fall in love with her. CeeCee has so many dreams, and Lucy’s Hearth is providing her family the resources to make these dreams possible. One attendee in the chat raved about it. “Salve president honoree and children discussion was hilarious. So clever. Nice injection of humor with reality of life through a child’s eyes.”
Watch it again or share with friends!
You can still view the event and share it with your friends at www.livefromlucys.org to see how Lucy’s Hearth is making dreams like CeeCee’s possible.
We are so close to reaching our goal of $10,000 and we need your help to achieve it, and continue helping kids like CeeCee reach for the stars. You can text WELOVELUCYS to 44321 to help families in Newport go from homeless to home.
On Thursday, October 29 at 7:00 pm, Lucy’s Hearth will host their annual fundraiser, Fall For Lucy’s Hearth, online for the first time. The exciting one-hour virtual event, hosted by actress Rose Weaver, will honor Dr. Kelli Armstrong and the enduring and inspiring partnership between Salve Regina University and Lucy’s Hearth.
This year, unprecedented challenges have faced Lucy’s Hearth and Salve Regina University students. But thanks to the dedication of Salve Regina University president Dr. Kelli Armstrong, university alumni, and current students, who have heroically volunteered when they were needed most, Lucy’s Hearth has been able to continue providing essential care to homeless families during COVID-19.
“We face an unprecedented health and financial crisis as many Rhode Island families face eviction from their homes,” noted Lucy’s Hearth Executive Director and Salve Regina alumna Kelly A. Lee. “Lucy’s stands ready to help these families get back on their feet and end the cycle of homelessness as quickly as possible. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, our facility has remained open and operational, with our staff and leadership stepping up and taking extra safety measures to ensure the well-being and safety of our families.”
As the university president, Dr. Armstrong eagerly embraced community organization and made her first visit to Lucy’s Hearth shortly after arriving at Salve Regina. During her visits, she had a great impact on the residents immediately. One Mom, who recently moved to Lucy’s Hearth, shared her personal journey which led to her and her children’s homelessness. Dr. Armstrong listened and responded with warmth, encouragement, and supportive words. She spoke with children about their experiences at Lucy’s Hearth and focused on their needs. This is so important for the families who come to Lucy’s Hearth– the majority of which have been impacted by various forms of trauma.
Salve Regina alumnus and Children’s Activity Coordinator at Lucy’s Hearth Alley Harkness knows firsthand the impact the school’s volunteerism has had on residents. “Not only are we providing families with shelter right now, but we’re helping them get back on their feet so that they don’t need to end up back in a place like this,” she said.
Visit LiveFromLucys.org to register, sponsor, and donate.
- Nancy Paolino
- Alan Bernstein
- Mike Renzi
- Slackwater String Band
- John Monllos
- Joanne Rodino
- Dopey Lopes
- Jimmy Winters
- Carrigan Nelson
- Jonathan Perry
- Leslie Grimes
- Matt Bruneau
While there is no charge to watch the concert, a donation can be your ‘virtual ticket’ to this great virtual event.
Click here to donate, before or after you view the concert.
Here are some suggested amounts that would show how much our community REALLY LOVES LUCY’S!
- $25 – Individual (includes all the drinks and appetizers you can get from your pantry)
- $100 – Full Table (can accommodate dozens of your friends to ‘sit’ with you)
- 250 – Friend of Lucy’s Hearth (includes virtual hugs from all the musicians)
- $500 – Concert Sponsorship (your name and/or business in skywriting over Second Beach, virtually*)
*Just kidding. But you will be recognized for your sponsorship before and after the concert!