Once you’ve taken care of more pressing concerns, there are some other important items to consider.
The SNAP program (food stamps) provides low-income individuals and families with resources to purchase food in the form of an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. DHS will determine if you are eligible to receive assistance based on your income, resources, and the number of individuals in your household. The first step is to complete an application.
You can apply online at http://www.dhs.ri.gov/Programs/SNAPApplyNow.php or you can print an application from this website, complete it and mail to RI Department of Human Services, P.O. Box 8709, Cranston, RI 02920-8787. If you aren’t able to print the application you can call or visit your local DHS office to apply. (See the appendix for a list of local DHS offices.) The application is quite long and you will need to provide proof of identity, income, assets/resources and expenses in order to complete the application. The agencies listed in the Resources section of this guide can also help you fill out and submit the application.
Farm Fresh RI will help you extend your SNAP benefits by buying fresh fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across Rhode Island. The Bonus Bucks program matches what you spend in SNAP benefits dollar for dollar at most RI farmers markets – that’s twice as much fresh local produce for your SNAP funds!
In a democracy, voting is not just a right—it is a responsibility. If you have been convicted of a felony and are still in prison, you are not eligible to vote. However, once out of prison, you can restore your right to vote by submitting a new voter registration form.
In Rhode Island, you will automatically be registered to vote if you go to the DMV to apply for a state ID or drivers’ license. You can also find and submit the registration application form online at the state Voter Information Center https://vote.sos.ri.gov or go in person to your local board of elections in the community where you live. To find the address of your local board of elections go to http://www.elections.ri.gov/canvassers/ You will need either a state ID or drivers’ license to register to vote.
Election Day is the first Tuesday in November. Check calendar for primary day. It’s easy to feel discouraged about politics but there is too much at stake, so get out there and vote!
There are a variety of issues in which you may find yourself in need of a lawyer, for example: tenant/ landlord issues, employment issues, business/consumer issues, family issues. The services of lawyers can become expensive especially if there is a lot of time involved in your case, but there are several alternatives for low-income citizens in Rhode Island.
RI Legal Services (RILS): provides a full range of legal advice, representation and assistance to low income individuals. RILS addresses civil legal problems such as: family matters, housing, employment, government benefits or consumer disputes.
Location: 56 Pine Street, Fourth Floor Providence, RI 02903
Phone: (401) 274-2652
Volunteer Law Program:
RILS also helps support a program of the RI Bar Association where RI attorneys provide free legal assistance to low income and elderly Rhode Islanders. To be eligible for the program, you must meet income eligibility guidelines and have legal issues that are fall in certain categories including: consumer, housing/landlord, public benefits, debt collection, bankruptcy, special education, employment, license registry and family law.
To determine if you are eligible, call to talk to staff at (401) 421-7758.
The Roger Williams University Pro Bono Collaborative: connects law firms, attorneys and law students to community-based organizations (CBO) that need free legal services for their clients. The CBO, not an individual, applies to the collaboration to develop a legal assistance project. If you are working with a community organization and need legal assistance, ask the organization’s staff if they are associated with the Pro Bono Collaborative.
Contact: Eliza Vorenberg, (401)254-4597, email@example.com
Center for Mediation & Collaboration RI:
Mediation can be an alternative to going to court. From their website: Mediation is not a determination of who is right and wrong, and the mediator is not a judge, fact-finder, or decision-maker. Mediators do not give legal advice. Choosing to mediate does not preclude you from your right to try other options such as litigation or arbitration. The Mediation Center helps individuals and organizations solve conflicts and resolve disputes through constructive dialogue. The kinds of conflicts that the center works with pertain to neighborhoods, housing disputes, families, consumer complaints and discrimination. Services are free or charged on a sliding scale.
Locations: 641 Bald Hill Rd, Suite 201, Warwick, RI 02886
Phone: (401) 273-9999
Rhode Island has recently changed its laws around expungement and sealing of criminal records.
The Rhode Island Public Defender office offers a resource guide on their website to help you determine if you might be eligible for expungement or sealing of your criminal record. To find the resource guide go to the website at www.RIPD.org and click on Resources at the top of the web page.
For assistance with expungement you can also contact Aziza Hawthorne, (acting) RIPD Community Outreach Liaison (401-458-3057 or firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance if you are a current or former client of the Rhode Island Public Defender. If you were not a client of the Rhode Island Public Defender and you would like assistance filing for expungement but you are unable to hire a lawyer, you may contact the Removing Barriers to Employment program at Rhode Island Legal Services. Call (401) 274-2652 for assistance.
The Attorney General (AG) has also opened an office at 693 Broad St in Providence that is open two days a week to answer all kinds of questions and concerns from residents. The community office hours are from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. Staff at this office can also assist you in exploring expungement among other issues.
Also, be aware that in Rhode Island it is illegal for an employer to ask the question: “Have you ever been arrested?”