This Just In: RI families stuck in hotels; thousands and thousands of parking tickets

Good afternoon and welcome to This Just In. I'm Mike McDermott, managing editor of The Providence Journal. Next week is school vacation week – actually it starts tomorrow – so that means that I'll be off enjoying some family time. I'll be back in your inbox on Monday, April 25.

Today is April 14; two years ago on this date, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Rhode Island's first mask requirement. I remember trying to make a mask out of an old T-shirt. It looked pretty awful.

The Rhode Island Department of Health today reported no coronavirus-related deaths and 539 additional cases of COVID-19, along with 7,224 negative tests, for a 6.9% positive rate. There were 57 COVID-positive patients in Rhode Island hospitals at last count, down from 58 reported yesterday, with four in intensive care. Rhode Island has reported an average of 359 new cases a day over the last seven days, up 42% from a week ago and up 102% from two weeks ago.

Ann Herrera lost custody of her two boys in August 2020 after a drug overdose. Shortly afterward, the boys' father died suddenly. In subsequent months, Herrera entered a recovery home and quit drugs "cold turkey." But one thing has held her back from full reunification with her children: the state's affordable housing crisis. Since November, Herrera's family has been living in an extended-stay hotel in Smithfield, at taxpayer expense, under a Family Court order. And they are hardly alone: The state has paid nearly half a million dollars so far this year to shelter DCYF-involved families in hotels. Katie Mulvaney of our Watchdog Team reports on how housing costs are keeping these families stuck in the system.

How many parking tickets were issued in Providence last year, how much money did the city collect, and where were the most ticketed locations? Journal reporter Amy Russo did a public records request and got the answers to all those questions.

It's not unusual for colleges and universities to change the names of academic buildings, or entire programs, after receiving large donations. But when Roger Williams University recently changed the name of its architecture program after receiving a $20-million gift, it kicked off a backlash that led the university to partially walk back the name change.

Dr. Timothy Babineau is resigning as president and CEO of Lifespan, the state's largest employer, just a couple months after the attorney general's office shot down the company's plan to merge with Care New England.

Sabina Matos wants a full term as lieutenant governor, and she officially launched her campaign today. Meanwhile, Democrat Helena Buonanno Foulkes' campaign said it raised more than $1.3 million in just the first three months of 2022 for her bid for governor; that's more than three times what incumbent Dan McKee raised.

A majority of the members of the Providence City Council seem to be behind the plan to revitalize the Superman Building, even if they acknowledge it's not perfect.

Fewer people are hunting in Rhode Island, and the state wants to hire someone to do something about it. Here's why.

If you love pizza (and who doesn't?), next week is the week for you.

And finally, the Minnesota Twins come to Boston on Friday, when they'll be the guests for the Red Sox' home opener. That means Twins manager and Rhode Island baseball legend Rocco Baldelli will be returning to New England. Meanwhile, his brother is trying to break into the pros, in a different sport.

Have a great night, a great weekend, and a great week. And remember, if you enjoy This Just In, please encourage a friend to sign up.

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: RI families stuck in hotels; thousands and thousands of parking tickets