State housing secretary says negotiations underway to purchase Charlesgate as shelter

Laid off health care worker says, ‘it seems like they had a plan all along to rent out the place for more money.’

By: - July 7, 2023 5:00 am

The former Charlesgate complex off North Main Street in Providence, as seen from the parking lot, is now home to 21 families who previously were sheltered in hotels under a state program. (Kevin G. Andrade/Rhode Island Current)

PROVIDENCE —  Workers who lost their jobs when a 120-bed North Main Street nursing facility closed down in June are questioning the state’s role in converting the property into a homeless shelter.

The Rhode Island Department of Housing announced June 30 that it would support Amos House by paying $72,000 in monthly rent to Davenport Associates, owner of the former Charlesgate Nursing Center complex, for 57 rooms now occupied by 21 families. The families, who moved in the day the announcement was made, previously had been staying at extended stay hotels with the cost paid for by the state.

Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor said the move was part of efforts to expand infrastructure to serve the unhoused and that the state was interested in acquiring the property.

“We are in negotiations for the acquisition of Charlesgate,” he told Rhode Island Current “And there are other (properties) in which it is possible that we would acquire, but it is not a necessary precondition for service providers to start working out of the sites.”

Pryor added that the list of properties the department is looking into is now “in the dozens.” 

In May, Davenport Associates, announced plans to close the nursing home, prompting Service Employees International Union 1199 to call for state intervention to stop the process that eventually left over 90 workers without employment.

The facility’s population at the time consisted of indigent patients, many of whom dealt with a substance use disorder, mental health issues and chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

“Davenport told the workers they were closing because they couldn’t afford to keep the nursing home open, but it seems like they had a plan all along to rent out the place for more money,” Edwina Globewole, an SEIU member, wrote in an email Thursday. She worked as a certified nursing assistant at the facility for 30 years before its closure.

“None of the workers were offered new jobs, and residents were transferred against their will without a legal closure plan in place,” Globewole added.

Housing Department spokesman Joey Lindstrom said that no patients were moved as a result of the placement.

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Kevin G. Andrade
Kevin G. Andrade

Kevin G. Andrade previously covered education, housing and human services for Rhode Island Current.