Putting the Cart Before the Horse: Pawtuxet Residents Concerned & Upset with House of Hope Fair House Management
There are now 13 House of Hope properties located in Warwick, and 40% of the homeless receiving HOH services end up transitioning to permanent housing.
The Fair House located on 69 Fair Street, refurbished at a cost of $2.5 million ( $203,000 in state historical building tax credits), is now a 10 unit subsidized housing home.
According to the local neighborhood residents, they had no idea they would have 10 new residents (4 out of the 10 are from Warwick), moving into the Fair House on July 1st. Apparently, the getting acclimated phase with the tenants hasn't gone so smoothly at the Fair House, and the tenant yelling and fighting has the local neighbors very concerned. So, the neighbors decided to organize a public meeting.
About thirty neighbors that live either next to or close by the Fair House (approx. 75% seniors), attended the public meeting with the House of Hope staff at St. Peter's Church on Wednesday, Aug. 2nd. Roughly 7-10 House of Hope staff were present, as well as two police officers, and councilman Richard Corley, but there were no Fair House tenants present.
The HOH presentation consisted of a little history, housing stats and inclusion/exclusion housing qualifying criteria.
The public however, was far more interested in who exactly was living in the Fair House. Councilman Corley shared that he had obtained a police incident report and there were 4 reported calls to the WPD -due to Fair House disturbances- from July 13-20.
When the public questioning started, it was very clear that a major lack of communication had taken place during this entire process of establishing another HOH property in this residential, Pawtuxet neighborhood.
The first neighbor to speak shared that the communication needed to be improved between the HOH and the neighborhood, and that she lived right across the street and didn't even know that anyone was living inside the Fair House.
Other primary concerns shared by the neighbors for about an hour included:
HOH made it clear that this HOH property is not a "program" but that it's subsidized housing. HOH also stated the Apponaug Circulator construction project has been giving them "phone issues" and that they do have an after hours line where calls will be redirected, however, neighbors claim they are only getting voicemail.
HOH asked how people would prefer to be notified moving forward, i.e. door knocking, email list? Some neighbors responded that via email list would be fine, others suggested a social media page, others said they have no access to the internet and that good old fashioned mailing would be fine.
When HOH was asked why none of the Fair House tenants attended the meeting, their response was: because they didn't feel comfortable and don't feel welcome. The reply back to HOH was maybe it's because of the way this entire process unfolded, and that it was the HOH staff's job to make sure the tenants did feel welcome, and to encourage their attendance. But that didn't happen.
The neighborhood public meetings should have taken place months ago, but unfortunately , the relationship rift that exists now between the Fair House tenants and the surrounding neighborhood is the result of putting the cart before the horse. Poor planning, poor neighborhood outreach, poor integration process... but yet everyone always knows how to show up for the photo ops to cut that ribbon, don't they?
Hopefully the crucial, 90 day new tenant integration process at the Fair House will end up reaching a peaceful outcome. It's up to the HOH staff to properly articulate to their tenants that is was HOH management that dropped the ball, and encourage respectful and open relationship building between the Fair House tenants and the surrounding neighbors.