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SOUTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The housing crunch facing southern Rhode Island has prompted a local nonprofit to take action that, it said, will help area families.

The Jonnycake Center for Hope announced recently that it has purchased four multi-unit dwellings in Peace Dale.

The properties were previously owned by the Welcome House, which will continue to operate its shelter at 8 North Road.

“After a year-long strategic planning process that involved conversations with community stakeholders and a review of the current housing situation in South Kingstown, which finds many more families at-risk of homelessness and housing instability, the Welcome House determined that the Jonnycake Center could best provide basic needs and case management services to families placed in these properties,” Welcome House Board Chairperson Emily Cummiskey said.

Jonnycake Center Chief Executive Officer Kate Brewster said the organization is grateful to the Welcome House for providing a unique opportunity to address a pressing local need.

“Low-income families are finding it almost impossible to secure safe, affordable housing, particularly those who qualify for subsidized housing,” Brewster said. “Over the next six months, we will begin creating a program that supports the needs of these families, with a focus on those with children in our school system who would benefit from an array of services and enrichment opportunities to ensure they can succeed in school.”

Jonnycake Board Chairperson Jane Hayward said it will take some time to assess necessary improvements to the homes and raise funds for renovations. The center is set to explore financing opportunities for the units and fully develop the housing program, including the application and selection process.

“We know that housing is the foundation for family success and that without a stable roof overhead, everything else can easily fall apart. While it will require a lot of work on our part, we are pleased to begin providing this most basic need,” Hayward said.

The center says it will once again count on the community for support, particularly through volunteerism. In particular, it will seek college students who can serve as mentors and tutors to younger children, along with businesses willing to offer internships to teens and young adults and adults with experience in finance and computers who can provide one-on-one assistance to parents.

The Jonnycake Center provides basic needs and resources to as many as 2,000 South County residents each year.

In the summer of 2019, the center purchased the former schoolhouse located at 22 Kersey Road in Peace Dale. The building will serve as the new home for the center’s food pantry, Jonnycake Market, as well as its social services team, expanding programs, and administrative offices.

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