Free Providence, RI
Providence is an overwhelmingly liberal city, in an overwhelmingly liberal state. The richest parts of town are in the Upper East Side, which is generally inhabited by rich college students. Downtown is mainly a business district, with some shops. Federal Hill is close by, with many expensive Italian restaurants. Roughest is the South Side, so watch yourself.
Also, watch out for undercover cops downtown, who are searching to arrest people on trumped-up drug charges.
Free housing, shelters and hostels, etc.
Geoff's Sandwich shop on Thayer always has a big barrel of completely free pickles. You don't need to buy anything, just grab 'em. Unless you happen to walk in during the Jewish holiday of Passover (near Easter) in which case they won't have any because they use a Jewish supplier.
Occasionally, the Food Not Bombs people organize an event = more free food!
In Woonsocket, on Main Street, Ye Olde English Fish and Chips serves amazing fried fish and chips, old style, deep fried, greasy goodness! It's pretty cheap, and if you show up towards closing time they sometimes give you an extra free fish with your order. This works best on off-days (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) around 7:00pm, but it'd be wise to show up a bit earlier, to avoid missing it altogether. They're closed on Sunday and Monday, and Friday is their most busy day, all the Catholic Elderly go there on Friday to get dinner, as they have for years now. Right around the corner from Ye Olde English, is New York Lunch wieners, they serve incredibly good wieners with meatsauce and fully loaded, for about $1.06 a wiener.
Although not in Providence, in Wooonsocket, there is a clinic called the Thundermist Clinic, and although the author hasn't been there personally, at the time of this writing, they do a lot of low-income, welfare sorta stuff; and they can do std and pregnancy tests free. They MAY also provide checkups and vaccinations free, although the author isn't entirely sure, it's worth a shot anyways! (No pun intended... haha)
Planned parenthood, free clinics, free medical advice, Medicare resources, low-cost clinics, etc.
ACLU, free legal aid/counseling, pro bono attorneys, etc.
Armed Forces/Deployment Avoidance Counseling
Legal aid, resources, etc.
In the summers, Waterfire is a good and pretty safe place for some free entertainment and some decent ambiance on the Providence River.
General weather, traffic, news resources, etc.
Any other freebies
There is a statewide public bus system that runs throughout Rhode Island, most buses, provided you ride all the way to the end of the circuit and back, will bring you to Kennedy Plaza in Providence. Kennedy Plaza is about two blocks from the Providence place mall, and is a fairly safe area, but there's a high patrol rate of Police officers, with a small substation being in the actual Plaza, connected to the bus terminal. Tickets can be purchased at the terminal for other bus-lines too, such as Greyhound and Peter Pan. Most buses make an hourly trip, and will pick you up at any RIPTA ( Rhode Island Public Transit Authority ) bus stop, which consists of every RIPTA sign you will see on lamp posts and such, as well as the traditional covered benches. Bus rates are two dollars in cash, for one way, and transfers are fifty cents. You can purchase a one-day pass which allows for unlimited use of the buses for six dollars, and you can get weekly. 15-day, and monthly passes for twenty-three, twenty-six, and sixty-two dollars respectively. Any other information can be found at . You can get almost anywhere in RI, from almost anywhere in RI, using the bus system. Note: Sometimes free rides can get attained by picking up an old bus pass that people will throw on the ground, and trying it, and saying that it must have just expired. The success rate of this varies, and it depends on the drivers mood sometimes, but there isn't any harm that can come to you from trying it, if the need is there.
Peter Pan Bus, Greyhound, and MBTA
The Metro-Boston Transit Authority (MBTA) has a commuter rail (train) line that ends in Providence. You can buy a round trip ticket from Providence to Boston (south station) to Providence (or vice versa) for 7.50 each way if I recall (last time I did was 2010). Of course there are stops along the way in case you want to go to Attleboro or something. The MBTA train leaves from the same station as the Amtrak. Takes about an hour and 10 minutes.
Greyhound and Peter Pan bus (another bus system like greyhound, but local to New England only) both leave from Providence to NY and from Providence to Boston (south station) (and vice versa) 10+ times a day on a weekday. For Boston that costs $8-12, takes an hour & 30 min.
To get to NY, I don't know ticket prices, may be cheaper to get to Boston 1st and then use Chinatown bus.
Although not public transit, this could be a great, easy way to travel a long distance in a short notice, provided money isn't too much of a problem. There is an Amtrak station only a few blocks from Kennedy Plaza, on 100 Gaspee Street, that is open from 5am to 11:30pm seven days a week. They sell tickets from 5am to 11pm. They have kiosks there too, and have open public restrooms, a heated indoor waiting area, and some vending machines.
Free Clothing and Furniture
Providence does not have any Goodwill stores (the closest is in Attleboro or Falls River I think) but it does have a lot of Salvation Armies. Most of them are pretty cheap, but there's one on either Eddy, Pitman, or Miner St (forget which) which is way overpriced. Some ones which are definitely good are around 1900 Smith St (take the 57), 1100 warwick (think that's either the #1 or #3 bus, dunno)
The spring is an amazing time for dumpster diving on College Hill. It's when all of the wealthy college kids at Brown and RISD leave for the season and throw all sorts of good shit out. Be quick at it though, as this is a well-known diving spot.
Spectrum India on Thayer gives out free bangles to absolutely anyone who walks in the door. Anytime.
Go to the Survive section and provide any city-specific details, including new topics.