PAWTUCKET – Adrienne Marchetti, director of the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen, says she knows what to expect for the coming winter months for Pawtucket’s homeless population, and it won’t be a pretty sight.
Marchetti said she is worried for the homeless again this year. While she has a solution to feeding the homeless population, she can’t get them homes.
Marchetti noted that last year Pawtucket was able to get housing for many homeless residents at the last minute right before a big storm hit, but because the solution came so late, it resulted in chaos.
“The truth is that it is going to get worse before it gets better, I just hope that this year they can all receive housing during the wintertime when it is too cold to be outdoors,” she said. “Even when we were providing housing for them during the winter storms last year, some people refused to come.”
Marchetti said many of the homeless have been homeless for so long they feel their tents are their homes. She and others have attributed growing homeless populations here in part to the impacts of the pandemic. Many of homeless also moved to new spots after being told to leave the Seekonk River bank near Taft Street to make way for construction of a new soccer stadium.
“They deserve to have a home, they deserve to have a life like everyone else,” she said.
Marchetti said hopes officials will have a better plan this year for housing the homeless during the coming months.
One reason some of the homeless did not take the opportunity to be housed when there was one last year was due to the fact that many of the hotels they were being placed in were outside of the city, a longer distance away from where they are located, said Marchetti.
“The thing you will find in Pawtucket is that people who live here stay here, they don’t ever leave the city,” she told The Breeze. “If I won the lottery I would be able to solve the housing problems and everyone who is homeless would be housed by tomorrow, but it’s not like that.”
Marchetti said there is a particularly large population of young adults who are now homeless after aging out of the foster care system and having nowhere else to go.
“It’s so sad to see people in high school homeless, it breaks my heart,” she said. “No one has taken a chance on them.”
She said that because there are so many facets to helping the homeless, it is difficult it is to get everything worked out so that they are all safe. Still, she said, she feels frustrated often by how long it takes.
“Every day you wake up and you think that you should see some change and that things should be getting better and they don’t,” she said.
Marchetti said the Pawtucket Soup Kitchen is currently planning on hosting its holiday dinners this year, but staffers are also playing it by ear because of how uncertain things are with the pandemic, how the homeless population deals with the different variants, and what the soup kitchen will be able to provide throughout it all.
The soup kitchen did to-go meals and social distancing throughout COVID because they found that people did not want to come inside due to what they were hearing about the virus and what was safe.