Five Questions With: Thomas Hodge

Thomas Hodge is the homeless liaison for Pawtucket, a part-time position that involves his working in outreach to the homeless. Hodge, a former city councilor, also responds to calls made to the Mayor’s Office about homeless individuals in the city.

The city this week announced the opening of mobile showers, available to homeless residents. The city will have showers available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. As the city prepared to reintroduce mobile showers, Hodge explained what services are available.

PBN: What does the homeless liaison do?

HODGE: The mayor has staff who receive several calls from people in need. Those calls are forwarded to me. I do the legwork and whatnot to see what we can do to help those folks. I put them in contact with the agencies that work with the city. We have a contract with the House of Hope and Access Rhode Island [homeless assistance], which provides many of the services, including counseling.

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PBN: Have you been able to communicate effectively with people in homelessness?

HODGE: I’ve had a number of people stop in my office and chat. I’ve done a lot of research on the homeless, and different approaches taken across the country to reach out to them. My expertise is not professional. It’s conversational, trying to comfort people, but I’m directing them to the areas they need, housing if they need housing, counseling if they need counseling.

PBN: What can you tell us about the effort to bring showers for the homeless back to the city?

HODGE: House of Hope had a location for a number of years that had a shower. Many of the homeless people, on Sundays as many as 40 or 50 people, went there to shower. That lease ran out at the end of the fiscal year last year. They had to relocate. When they relocated, there was no shower facility. That type of thing would come to me. I began researching to see if we could have a portable shower, or even a fixed location for a shower. That took place over several months.

PBN: What went into getting the shower reintroduced?

HODGE: We went on a search. I researched the city bringing in a unit and training people to operate it. Through this, we came upon the “Soupman,” whose name is Peter Kelleher. He was providing services in Massachusetts. He works in Brockton and Taunton. We contacted him and had him come in to talk to us about what services he had and ask if he was available to come into the city.

PBN: How will the showers work?

HODGE: We had a soft opening on Thursday. Mr. Kelleher goes far beyond showers. He has used clothing, toiletry items, sneakers, flip-flops. We had six or seven people who had heard about it through the grapevine and had showers. Yesterday, a hair salon … Vanessa’s Hair Salon, she set up two chairs and she cut four people’s hair.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at