News & Event
Published on October 21, 2016
BY MARY MACDONALD | MACDONALD@PBN.COM
When a renter or homeowner is housing-cost burdened, it means that they often do not have enough resources to meet basic needs or contribute to the local economy. … Based on 55,800 cost-burdened owner households in Rhode Island, these households spend an estimated $1.26 billion on their mortgage and housing expenses per year. If they lived in housing affordable to them, that figure would decrease to $773 million per year.
Are renters caught in a rut, paying too much rent to save toward ownership? While not the only solution, increasing the supply of housing, particularly affordable units, for renters would help… We found that by 2025, a 12-13 percent increase in the number of households will occur. Due to the demographics and housing preferences of the households. … more than 80 percent of new households are projected to live in multifamily units. Over 30,000 new housing units will be needed in multifamily properties.
HousingWorks RI envisions a state in which all communities embrace a variety of housing choices. … Developing housing close to transit or job hubs, or existing neighborhood or village centers makes good sense. In addition, affordability should play a key role in housing creation throughout our state.
Working to reduce regulatory barriers at both the local and state levels would help to reduce costs. In November Question 7, the $50 million Housing Opportunity Bond, will be presented to voters. … It is estimated that the bond will generate over 1,000 jobs and help to address our housing shortage by providing resources to preserve and build more affordable homes across the state.
Courtesy of Providence Business News.
By Mary MacDonald-October 12, 2017 4:30 am
PBN: What is the most encouraging trend in this year’s report?
CLEMENT: First of all, we did see an increase in building permits. That’s a good thing. But we still rank last, on a per capita basis, for the past six years. But we have seen some communities up their amounts. As the market is recovering, we are seeing some recovery in building and developing units. Twenty-five percent of those were for multifamily units, which is also a good trend. Our biggest need is going to be in multifamily.
PBN: What is the most discouraging trend?
CLEMENT: The most discouraging thing is if you make anything under $30,000 a year, you can’t reasonably afford to own anything or rent anything, anywhere in the state. Under $50,000, you can afford six communities, but that’s down from 11. Even more moderate-income workers are struggling in this economy.
PBN: One of the statistics in the report is that to meet future demand, the number of building permits for multifamily will have to grow at three times the current rate each year. How is that possible?
CLEMENT: It’s a steep challenge. What multifamily is, looks different in different communities. In a suburban or a more rural location, that might be duplexes or accessory dwelling units. But we clearly have to look at opportunities, particularly around transit nodes and other areas to provide more density in those locations, as part of the incentive for developers, so we can create more units. We also need to bring more units that are offline, online.
PBN: What incentives can be used to encourage towns to approve these developments, particularly those that would appeal to families of school-age children?
CLEMENT: We have to look at the school aid formula, we have to look at other ways to provide incentives. Our neighboring state, Massachusetts, has an [inclusive] law … that provides extra school aid for communities that develop additional family units and family housing. There are different incentives we can look at. It has to be the right mix of incentives. … The communities are a key partner. We want communities to be a willing partner, not one we’re going to have to keep dragging in.
PBN: We’ve had price escalation in real estate across the state, and across property types. Is it disproportionately affecting renters?
CLEMENT: Even homeowners have considerable cost burdens. Households with mortgages have a 37 percent housing cost burden, which means they’re paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing. You can particularly see this as they age, or retire. Many seniors want to age in place, but keeping that roof over their head becomes even more of a struggle. There is no one easy solution.
Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at MacDonald@PBN.com. Follow on Twitter at MaryF_MacDonald.
Courtesy of Providence Business News
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
2200 Southwood Drive, Nashua, NH
We invite you to be a part of the second New England Lead Conference taking place on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 in Nashua, NH. Hosted by the New England Lead Coordinating Committee, the conference will include a variety of educational sessions focusing on lead prevention, policy, model programs, outreach, the EPA’s Renovation, Remodeling and Repair Rule (RRP), lead abatement, compliance, and the economics of lead poisoning.
Read more >
October 4, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
The Narragansett Times: Dziobek steps down as Welcome House director
By KENDRA GRAVELLE Sep 29, 2017
SOUTH KINGSTOWN—When Joseph Dziobek accepted the position of executive director of Welcome House of South County nearly three years ago, he had expected the job would make for a simple transition into retirement.
But what was intended as a part-time gig turned into much more than that for Dziobek, who this week left his post.
“It’s been a challenge,” said Dziobek, whose last day on the job was Monday. “And it’s been very satisfying—I feel very close to the people who have been a part of it.”
Dziobek, 66, took the job at Welcome House after retiring from his career as CEO of Fellowship Health Resources. He said he intended only to stay for two or three years.
October 4, 2017 in Local Interest
Final Days to Register: 2017 Housing Fact Book Release
Date: Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Luncheon: 12:00pm - 1:30pm
Location: Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin Street, Providence RI
October 3, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
Rhode Island College: The Defamation Experience
Monday, October 30, 2017
5:00PM - Doors Open
6:00PM - Performance
SPONSORED BY: THE DIVISION OF COMMUNITY EQUITY AND DIVERSITY AND THE DIVISION OF STUDENT SUCCESS
THE PLAY * THE DELIBERATION * THE DISCUSSION
September 27, 2017 in Events, Local Interest
NLIHC: Sign Letters to Support Equitable Housing Recovery after Devastating Hurricanes
Help ensure that low income people and neighborhoods are treated fairly after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. A broad coalition of national, state, and local organizations is calling on Congress, FEMA, and HUD to ensure that the federal response to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria is complete and equitable for everyone, especially families and individuals with the lowest incomes who are often the hardest hit by disasters and have the fewest resources to recover afterwards.
September 27, 2017 in Local Interest, National News
Roger Williams University: Social Justice Month Events
Thursday, Oct 19
Mary Tefft White Center
How Housing Works
4:00pm – 6:00pm
Sponsored by Housing Works RI and RWU Chief Diversity Officer
Keywords: socioeconomic status, race, jobs, housing, equity
Workshop with Brenda Clement, Director of Housing Works Rhode Island and Ame Lambert, RWU Chief Diversity Officer.
An overview of housing issues in Rhode Island and connections to the larger social justice agenda.
September 25, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: People on the move for the week of Sept. 17
Posted Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Updated Sep 13, 2017 at 5:34 PM
Rhode Island LISC
Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corportation has welcomed two new employees. Jeremiah O’Grady, of Lincoln, joined LISC as program officer after spending more than 12 years at ONE Neighborhood Builders as real estate project manager and director of asset management and operations.
Liz Klinkenberg, of Warwick, was hired as communications director. She brings more than 15 years of public relations experience to her new position, including work for The Miami Herald and The Providence Journal.
The Providence American: Reed Announces $300k in Community Development Grants for NeighborWorks Affiliates
WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to promote healthy, vibrant neighborhoods across Rhode Island, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today announced an additional $300,000 in federal funding for three Rhode Island-based affiliates of NeighborWorks America (NeighborWorks). These federal funds will help NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, and West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation to provide affordable housing opportunities, generate job growth, and enhance economic stability for working families. Earlier this year, Senator Reed also helped to secure over $750,000 in federal funding for NeighborWorks affiliates in Rhode Island, bringing total NeighborWorks investment in the state to above $1 million for fiscal year 2017.
September 21, 2017 in Federal News, Local Interest
The Providence American: Providence Unveils PVD Gives Donation Station
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza today joined members of the City Council, public safety officials, and community leaders who have been named to the PVD Gives commission for the unveiling of the City’s first Donation Station at Kennedy Plaza. The retrofitted parking meter is one of ten stations that will be installed across the city to collect funds that will support local organizations that provide housing and services to those in need.
“PVD Gives and the new Donation Stations make it easier to give back,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our collective generosity can make all the difference in the lives of those striving to get back on their feet. I encourage visitors and residents to chip in and be part of the solution.”
September 21, 2017 in Local Interest
Providence Journal: Report: New England losing 65 acres of forestland per day
By Steve LeBlanc / Associated Press
Posted Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
Updated Sep 19, 2017 at 11:21 AM
BOSTON — New England has been losing forestland to development at a rate of 65 acres per day — a loss that comes at a time when public funding for preservation of open land, both state and federal, has also been on the decline in all six states.
That’s the conclusion of a report released Tuesday by the Harvard Forest, a research institute of Harvard University.
The study found public funding for land conservation in New England dropped by half between 2008 and 2014 to $62 million per year, slightly lower than 2004 levels.
By Mary MacDonald -October 11, 2017 6:15 am
PROVIDENCE – More than one-in-three households in Rhode Island with a mortgaged property are housing cost-burdened, and the rate rises to one-in-two for renters, according to research by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.
The 2017 Housing Fact Book, released Wednesday, shows that the real estate gains in value seen over the past two years are also impacting housing affordability, as a tightening market drives prices upward.
The number of towns and cities in Rhode Island that are affordable to buyers or renters whose incomes fall below $50,000 has dropped from previous years. Only two communities – Providence excluding the East Side and Central Falls – offer homes for sale that fit a household income under $50,000.
Even at higher income levels – those exceeding the Rhode Island household median – homebuyers have seen the number of municipalities shrink where they can reasonably expect to find available stock.
The homebuyers with a median income of $70,000 have 12 communities in which the median household cost is affordable, defined as having housing costs, including utilities, being less than 30 percent of income.
Renters are having an increasingly difficult time, as well. Households earning $50,000 or less could afford rent in only six towns or cities in the state. Households earning $30,000 or less could not afford a two-bedroom apartment in any city or town.
The implications of the housing costs reach into education, food security and the greater economic activity of the state, according to Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.
By spending so much money on housing, a basic need, households that are financially burdened cannot afford to spend money on other needs.
The burden in Rhode Island has economic implications as well, she said, in an interview. It makes finding housing a challenge for many employees.
“You also add costs if people have to have longer commutes and live further and further out. It makes it challenging to attract workers and to retain workers if housing costs are not affordable,” she said.
Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at MaryF_MacDonald.
By Amanda Milkovitz / Journal Staff Writer
Posted Sep 16, 2017 at 9:58 PM
Updated Sep 16, 2017 at 9:58 PM
Some 500 veterans attended the Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island outreach event at Diamond Hill State Park.
CUMBERLAND, R.I. — They served their country — some decades ago, some just recently, and some who deployed again and again.
And when they returned, some of them disappeared into the shadows of society and ended up on the streets, struggling and feeling forgotten by a public that claims to honor its veterans.
This is what three Vietnam veterans from Rhode Island — Tony DeQuattro, Robert O’Connor and Jack Ordner — saw happening to fellow servicemen and women decades ago. And, DeQuattro said Saturday, he was tired of waiting for the government to help.
So, 25 years ago, the three men held the first Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island outreach event. They set up a military-style tent city at the old Ladd School, in Exeter, and bused in homeless and at-risk veterans to spend the weekend, getting free medical and legal care, haircuts, and services from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Forty veterans came to that first event.
This weekend, it was more like 500. And at Diamond Hill State Park, where the event has been held for the last 23 years, the number of volunteers and services have also expanded to help homeless veterans.
RIPTA and shuttle buses brought in veterans from all across the state. The District Court and Traffic Tribunal set up tents to help veterans deal with court costs, expungements and traffic violations, while the state Department of Motor Vehicles assisted them with reinstating licenses. Veterans could get haircuts, dental care, medical and mental health services, check if they have unclaimed property, and pick up clothing.
Gov. Gina Raimondo, U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Brig. Gen. Christopher P. Callahan of the R.I. National Guard and other Rhode Island dignitaries served meals. The veterans slept on fresh bedding and cots in tents named for fallen Rhode Island servicemen and women. Rhode Island motorcycle clubs provided security; most have members who are veterans.
The setting was meant to invoke memories of their military service, when they were treated with dignity and respect. In military terms, “stand down” means safety and rest.
Over the last 25 years, the need hasn’t changed, DeQuattro said. If anything, it’s grown with each new war.
So has Operation Stand Down/Rhode Island. The nonprofit organization now helps about 2,000 homeless and at-risk veterans find housing, employment and help with veterans benefits year-round.
DeQuattro’s youngest daughter, Dee DeQuattro Rothermel, was only 4 years old when it started, and she remembers playing with other children who came with their veteran parents. She realized as she grew older that those families were probably homeless.
Now communications and development director for Operation Stand Down, DeQuattro Rothermel said the event is still a family affair. She met her husband, David Rothermel, a Marine, when he arrived at an outreach seven years ago and asked to volunteer. The couple came up with the “Boots on the Ground” memorial two years ago, as a way to honor the fallen.
“My dad is very modest, but it’s a huge thing that he started 25 years ago,” she said. “We’re proud of him. It’s an accomplishment.”
DeQuattro spoke to the gathering of veterans at a ceremony Saturday afternoon.
“I do it because God told me to,” DeQuattro told them, “and because we have to take care of our brothers and sisters.”
Posted Oct 11, 2017 at 12:01 AM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — For families with household incomes below $50,000, the improving housing market in 2016 meant rising prices, and fewer homes and apartments they can afford to rent or buy, according to a new report from HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.
The report found that in 2016, only two communities, Central Falls and Providence (not counting the East Side) offered “homes for sale that fit a household budget of under $50,000.”
For renters, there was no municipality in the state where the average cost of a two-bedroom rental apartment was affordable on a household income of $30,934, the median income for Rhode Island renters.
Even for renters earning less than $50,000, there were just six communities where the average rent price was “affordable:” Central Falls, Cranston, East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence (without the East Side) and Woonsocket.
Housing is deemed “affordable” if housing costs consume no more than 30 percent of a household’s gross income.
“Simply put, Rhode Island needs more housing,” said Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing. “The real estate market is booming right now, and that means housing prices are rising — which puts pressure on families who are already struggling to get by. The good news is that we have already begun taking steps to increase production, and the $50 million housing bond that passed last year is a start.”
As the “affordability gap” grew, there was also a jump in the number of foreclosures last year. There were 1,561 foreclosure deeds issued in the Ocean State in 2016, an increase of 32 percent compared with 2015, according to the 2017 Housing Fact Book.
In addition, “Rhode Island’s rate of seriously delinquent loans is still among the highest in the United States, ranking ninth in the fourth quarter of 2016,” the report added.
The Fact Book, an annual report from HousingWorks RI, tracks affordability and other housing issues across the state. It was scheduled for release Wednesday at HousingWorks’ annual luncheon, which this year includes a morning panel discussion “offering an in-depth look at the numbers.” HousingWorks RI is a nonprofit research group that became part of Roger Williams University in 2014.
The Fact Book also tracked an increase in 2016 in building permits, which rose by 23 percent to 1,226 permits. But this level is still far below projected needs.
“As noted in the Projecting Future Housing Needs Report (2016), commissioned by Rhode Island Housing, over the next 10 years there is an anticipated need for more than 34,000 new homes,” the Fact Book added, and “demand is for more than 27,000 of those to be multifamily and able to serve households with incomes less than 80 percent of area median income ($40,400 to $68,000 for households of one to four across the state).”
But many communities still have far to go in reaching the state-mandated goal of having 10 percent of their housing stock be long-term, deed-restricted affordable housing, the report added. Just five communities have met the goal: Central Falls, Newport, New Shoreham, Providence and Woonsocket.
Communities with less than 3 percent include: Barrington (2.66), Charlestown (2.86), Exeter (2.36), Foster (2.05), Glocester (2.23), Little Compton (0.56 percent), Portsmouth (2.83), Richmond (1.89), Scituate (0.85), and West Greenwich (1.41). However, statewide, the average is up to 8.29 percent.
Rhode Island continues to have an exceptionally low homeownership rate, particularly for communities of color.
“At 60 percent, Rhode Island has the lowest rate of homeownership among the six New England states, and ranks 46th nationally,” the report added. “Across race and ethnicity, homeownership rates in Rhode Island show great disparity. White residents have a homeownership rate of 65 percent, while Latino, Black and Asian household rates are 28 percent, 31 percent and 50 percent, respectively.”
On Twitter: @ChristineMDunn
R.I. housing costs, 2016
Median house price: $239,900
Income needed to afford this: $68,065
Average two-bedroom rent: $1,288
Income needed to afford this: $51,520
SOURCE: 2017 HOUSING FACT BOOK
Courtesy of Providence Journal
Last month, a bill that would cap the proportion of registered sex offenders in homeless shelter beds at 10 percent for shelters whose capacity exceeds 50 people passed in the Rhode Island State House. A coalition of activists are now asking via petition that Gov. Gina Raimondo veto the bill, arguing that the legislation is “against the public interest.”
The bill passed the state Senate in June after the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended it for passage. The bill was passed in concurrence by the Rhode Island House of Representatives Sept. 19, and the veto petition was sent to Raimondo Sept. 26.
Seven individuals, including several directors of homeless shelters and non-profits, co-signed the petition to the governor. Forty to 50 individuals will be displaced if the bill is passed, which would create a public safety concern both for the displaced individuals, as well as the larger community, according to the petition. If passed, the bill would take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and the petitioners note that this would leave people homeless in the dead of winter. This would also increase risks of recidivism, petitioners say.
Perceptions of the bill are sharply polarized, and while detractors argue that the legislation jeopardizes public safety, supporters say the bill actually defends it.
State Sen. Frank Lombardi, D-Cranston, is a co-sponsor of the bill and introduced it alongside State Sen. Hanna Gallo, D-Cranston. Cranston is the location of Rhode Island’s largest homeless shelter, Harrington Hall. Harrington has 112 beds which are open to single men. “Harrington Hall has the highest number per capita of registered sex offenders transported there at any given time in the state of Rhode Island,” Lombardi said. This disproportionate concentration of sex offenders in a single neighborhood was the impetus for the bill especially because “the residence hall surrounds at least three elementary schools,” he said.
The question of appropriate maintenance of distance between schools and sex offenders is no new issue in Rhode Island. Convicted sex offenders have been restricted from living closer than 300 feet from any school property since 2008, The Providence Journal reported. In June 2015, the General Assembly expanded this to 1,000 feet for Level III sex offenders — those most likely to re-offend. This law placed 64 percent of Providence off-limits to these registered sex offenders, according to the Journal. In October 2015, the lawsuit Freitas et al. v. Kilmartin was filed challenging the law’s constitutionality as violating due process; after the case was filed, a judge placed a restraining order on the law, effective to this day and as long as the case remains unresolved.
“It’s very sad that we have a significant population of people who are required to register as sex offenders that have no place to live but Harrington Hall,” said Andrew Horwitz, petitioner and assistant dean for experiential education at Roger Williams University. Although the 1,000-foot rule is not in effect, the critics of this bill say that sex offenders do not have options other than Harrington Hall because of policies in other shelters and the 300-foot restriction. “We’ve got such incredible restrictions on where registered sex offenders are allowed to live that pretty much any place in Rhode Island that has affordable housing is off-limits for somebody who is a registered sex offender,” Horwitz added.
Concerning the safety of the public, “what reduces recidivism is stability,” Horwitz said. “When you render somebody homeless” by limiting the number of beds available to them in shelters, “you destabilize them,” he said.
One of the “public safety” concerns in Lombardi’s district is cases of sex offenders being dropped off at the shelter and loitering if no beds were available. He characterized the bill as an “incentive to have all of these homeless shelters share — not overburden Harrington Hall only with registered sex offenders.”
Lombardi had not heard about the petition but was not surprised to learn there was one; “there was a very vibrant debate” in the Senate, he recalled, “given the polarizing issues involved; on one side the issue of public safety and on the other side is the issue of homelessness.” Though he supports the bill, Lombardi recognizes more progress is needed to be made toward finding permanent solutions to homelessness, including for sex offenders. “We need the judiciary, we need law enforcement, we need the public housing folks,” he said.
The petition proposes an alternative path from the bill: a “study commission” that would devote time and resources to considering viable options for housing for registered sex offenders, which could inform future legislation. It also suggests potential amendments to the bill, such as changing the date it would take effect and limiting its applicability to Level III Sex offenders.
Horwitz himself is in favor of building more homeless shelters and having a more decentralized homeless system to relieve Harrington and the neighborhood; but fundamentally he said he views shelters themselves as only rudimentary solutions to homelessness. He would prefer legislation creating more affordable housing and repealing “irrational” housing restrictions to address Harrington’s predicament.
The main plaintiff in Freitas et al. v. Kilmartin, John Freitas, was a Level III sex offender. Barbara Freitas, director of the Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project and formerly homeless herself, is his widow. She was another of the seven signatories of the petition.
Freitas echoed Horwitz’s concerns. The bill’s “attempt to keep the public safe is failing miserably, because they will end up in the street,” she said. Freitas explained that sex offenders are at least accounted for in a homeless shelter due to the requirement to register. This means that “public safety” is better served by keeping homeless shelters’ numbers of sex offenders uncapped for community members and visitors alike.
Freitas does not expect Raimondo to heed the petition. Freitas says she was part of a previous attempt to convince Raimondo to veto the 300-foot rule, without success. “Nobody wants to have the veto go through about sex offenders. That’s a sure way to have yourself not get elected,” Freitas said.
If the governor were to veto the bill, there would be no effort by the legislative branch to override the veto, according to Lombardi. The bill was transmitted to the governor Oct. 3. She is required to sign or veto legislation within six days of transmittal. The bill is “currently under consideration for action in the coming days,” according to the governor’s press office.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article stated that the bill was passed in the State Senate in May, In fact, it was passed in the State Senate in June. A previous version also contained an incorrect titled for Andrew Horwitz, petitioner and assistant dean for experiential education at Roger Williams University. The Herald regrets the error.
Courtesy of The Brown Daily Herald
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