Gov. Raimondo also announced the resignation of a senior advisor after a drunk driving arrest

By Hope McKinney

Data: The Department of Health said there were 45 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Rhode Island to 17,312. There were 2 new deaths on Wednesday. The total number of deaths is 976. The number of confirmed cases in East Greenwich has gone up to 88. Find all the most recent data at the DOH data hub HERE

At Gov. Gina Raimondo’s press conference Friday afternoon, she announced an initiative that will start next week to provide an alternative to the traditional eviction process.

The Safe Harbor Housing Program, in partnership with the United Way and the Rhode Island Judiciary, is meant to address eviction problems now that courts are reopening, allowing for the resumption of eviction proceedings. She said she hoped this will provide landlords and tenants with an avenue to work for a solution outside of the court system. 

Raimondo said $7 million of CARES Act funding will go towards this effort, which should allow at least 1,000 residents to maintain stable housing. Renters who meet income criteria and are behind on their rent for a COVID-19-related reason can qualify for this assistance. Tenants can apply directly or landlords can apply on behalf of tenants. 

The governor said both parties – landlord and tenant – have to agree to participate. If they both agree, they’ll be contacted by a United Way housing specialist to finalize a payment agreement. This will help tenants pay their rent for a period of time. Tenants in need of legal advice will be able to access free legal services. 

Starting Monday, residents who are interested in this initiative can contact the United Way at 211 and ask about the program or apply. You can also go to www.uwri.org.

“$7 million isn’t going to solve the whole problem,” Raimondo said. “But there are families struggling and we need to help them right now to not be evicted.” 

Stefan Pryor, secretary of the Commerce Department, said there’s also the option of turning to the state legislature if the program doesn’t work. 

“We may need more legislative measures to consider if landlord cooperation and tenant participation don’t work out to be optimal,” he said. 

Raimondo also confirmed Friday she had accepted the resignation of her senior adviser, Daniel Connors, Thursday after he was pulled over for drunk driving in Narragansett Wednesday.

“[He] conducted himself in a manner that was inconsistent with the values of my administration,” she said. She noted Connors had done a good job. 

In response to proposed legislation for minimum staffing in nursing homes, Raimondo said these facilities will continue to be supported but part of having higher quality care is minimum staffing. 

“There is certainly a place for nursing homes and thank God we have them, and God bless the workers on the frontlines of nursing homes who take care of our moms and dads,” she said. “But there are other ways to let folks age with dignity and good health, and they’re at risk with communal living.” 

She said more money will be put into home care and community-based services in an attempt to decrease these risks. 

Raimondo announced version two of the CRUSH COVID RI app is now available for download at the Apple store and Google Play. With this updated version, users can take notes in the location diary and specify exactly where and who they were with. Users can see a record of their symptoms for the last 20 days. The testing map has been updated for where to get tested in the state and the “frequently asked questions” section has been updated with more information. It is also now available in Portuguese.


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