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
By Mary MacDonald - February 9, 2018 3:22 am
Melissa Sanzaro | Executive director, Providence Housing Authority
1. What is the Providence Housing Authority footprint for housing, and how has that changed over the past 10 years? The Providence Housing Authority is the largest public housing authority in the state, managing more than 2,600 units of public housing and administering more than 2,600 Housing Choice Vouchers serving approximately 12,000 people. … In 2006, the voucher program served about 1,700 families and over an 11-year period experienced an increase of 58 percent in their program.
2. What are some of the other services the housing authority provides? Beyond the bricks and mortar, the PHA is proud of its extensive and unique resident-services department, which is staffed by 25 people that oversee more than seven core programs. The department works closely with other agencies to deliver important services to our community such as family self-sufficiency, financial literacy, homeownership counseling, employment services, case management and adult basic education, including digital literacy.
3. How has the profile of the person living in Providence Housing changed? How many families are seeking apartments? On average, women represent about 62 percent of our head of households, while nearly 60 percent of head of households identify as Hispanic. Twenty-one percent of residents served by the housing authority are disabled, the majority of which reside in one of our six high-rises. The average income for our residents remains steady at approximately $12,600 per year. In 2016, for the first time in 17 years, the PHA opened its waiting list for the voucher program, receiving 5,000 applications. In public housing, the waitlist has another 5,400 applicants.
4. What would you like to see the authority champion? This is an exciting time for the agency; a time to build on our past successes, re-energize community relationships and develop innovative and comprehensive approaches to provide viable and healthy housing and life-changing opportunities.
5. You previously were deputy director. What was your most challenging experience in that role? My biggest challenge was that of most leaders in public service: wanting to be everything to everyone who needs your help. It is difficult to face the inability to provide housing to everyone in need. … Our low- and extremely low-income families’ need for affordable housing far exceeds what is available to them.
Courtesy of Providence Business News
The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH) is a statewide organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Rhode Island. Formed in 1988, RICH’s mission is to seek comprehensive and cooperative solutions to homelessness in Rhode Island. This is accomplished through data collection and analysis, advocacy, training and education, collaboration, technical assistance, constituent services, and strategic communications. RICH works to build the public and political will to support the right for safe, affordable housing for every Rhode Islander. The organization works to ensure and support local, state and federal commitments to establish a continuum of affordable housing and homeless prevention programs. This work involves maintaining a broad base of key stakeholders to support and advocate for the organization’s vision, including homeless people, service providers, politicians, affordable housing allies, advocates, public and philanthropic funders, businesses, city and state officials, developers, faith communities and concerned citizens.
As the lead agency responsible for Rhode Island’s Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), RICH is in the unique position to use data and information to catalyze and inform change within the homelessness services system. RICH collects, analyzes, and disseminates data and information that is fundamental to the health and efficient operations of the State of Rhode Island’s Continuum of Care (CoC), which is comprised of state agencies, community partners, and individuals that guide the state’s homelessness policies and administer federal and state homeless funds as they work to build a statewide system to prevent and end homelessness. Building off the organization’s role as HMIS Administrator for the CoC, RICH’s next Executive Director will work with staff, consultants, partner organizations, funders, and researchers to advance data and evidence informed practices and strategies, including and especially coordinated assessment and housing placement, to rapidly and permanently end homelessness among individuals and families.
The Executive Director is accountable for the overall leadership, direction and management of the organization’s resources to accomplish the goals and mission of the organization. The Executive Director should have experience in financial management, community relations, program delivery, organizational development, strategic planning, and experience using data and information to strengthen both practice and systems. The Executive Director must have empowering leadership skills to work with staff, Coalition partners, Board and community stakeholders. The Executive Director exemplifies RICH’s values and nurtures its organizational culture by supporting a learning community of staff, Board, homeless constituents, community stakeholders, government and political leaders. The ED reports to the Board of Directors and will work with the Board, RICH’s membership, funders and other constituents to develop a new Strategic Plan for the organization during his/her first year in the position.
KEY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
Program Development and Management
Resource Development and Fundraising
Personnel and Operations Management
Community Collaboration and Movement Building
Strategic Communications and Public Relations
The preferred candidate has knowledge and experience in homelessness prevention and system-change work, is an energetic leader with demonstrated financial and organizational management skills, who can engage others in RICH’s mission, embraces and encourages coalition and movement building and is comfortable working with low income and marginalized populations.
The ideal candidate possesses the following attributes:
This is an exciting opportunity for a dynamic leader who is truly committed to making a positive contribution to the community. Compensation between $70,000-$80,000. Relocation assistance is not provided for this position.
Application deadline: 5pm EDT Monday, November 20, 2017
Candidates should submit a resume and cover letter describing their interest in this position via:
• Email – firstname.lastname@example.org, please include, “ED Search” in the subject line.
• Regular mail - Search Committee
RI Coalition for the Homeless
1070 Main St
Pawtucket, RI 02860
For more information about RI Coalition for the Homeless visit http://rihomeless.org
By Mary MacDonald-June 21, 2018 4:30 am
Joseph Luca, president of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, recently spoke to the Providence Business News about the upward trend for sales and appreciation in the multifamily category. In May, the median price for the sale of buildings with two or more units rose 20 percent. And the inventory rose as well, by 16 percent.
PBN: What is happening with the multifamily market? In one month, we had a 20 percent surge it seems in price.
LUCA: I wouldn’t classify it as a surge. It’s been pretty consistent over the past year that prices have been increasing. There has been steady demand. A lot of times if you have a house and it’s listed at $200,000, and a lot of people are interested, and it ends up selling for $210,000, the appraisers, they have the offers to support that it’s worth that much. That value is supported by what’s going on in the marketplace. We’re moving the distressed properties from the marketplace. Right now, the average cost of a multifamily is $246,000.
PBN: Are the rents a factor? Are the prices escalating because rents are going up in these units?
LUCA: There is definitely a correlation there. I don’t know if it’s causal. If you can buy a property in Woonsocket … if you have a three-unit property there, with three bedrooms per unit, you’re going to get $1,500 a month for each three-bedroom unit. These are nice, fully remodeled units. That’s $4,500 a month. You can support a lot of debt service with $4,500 a month.
PBN: Who are these buyers, are they individuals, companies?
LUCA: Sometimes they are [individuals]. I had a conversation with a buyer last night. He had been wanting to buy a multifamily house. Smart guy, has been looking for properties, and finding good value. Multifamily was his first choice. But the prices are high. And he thought, you know what, maybe I should just buy a single-family. The single individual, not an investor, this was going to be a homeowner-occupied multifamily.
PBN: Where are the hot cities for this? Suburban cities, such as Cranston or Warwick?
LUCA: Suburban cities, [such as] Cranston, Warwick, they have their opportunities. But you can get really good values in cities [such as] Providence, West Warwick, Central Falls. Central Falls is really hot. There are folks who … from an investor perspective, if I’m going to buy an investment property in Central Falls, I should probably buy a second one, so when I send my snowplow guy around, he doesn’t have to go 25 minutes between each property. That’s part of it.
PBN: I’m curious. Given the uncertainty over the Pawtucket Red Sox, has that had a depressing effect on sales in Pawtucket? Or is the opposite true?
LUCA: It’s so competitive out there, for folks to find a house, they’re not even looking at that.
Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at email@example.com.
MassNAHRO, the leading housing and community development advocate for the provision and preservation of adequate and affordable housing for those with low and moderate incomes, is seeking a dynamic new Executive Director. Based in Boston, MassNAHRO serves members comprising approximately 240 public housing agencies and more than 1,300 publicly elected and appointed officials throughout the Commonwealth.
The Massachusetts Chapter of the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (MassNAHRO) was established in 1972. It parallels and complements the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) as an official state chapter. MassNAHRO is primarily concerned with the policies of State agencies and State programs and the implications of national policies at the state and local levels. Members own or manage almost 50,000 state-funded public housing units, more than 33,000 federally-funded public housing units, 4,200 state-funded rental assistance units and 55,000 federal Section 8 units. The MassNAHRO Code of Conduct emphasizes adherence to the highest degree of professionalism and promotion of the public interest by all members. Please see www.massnahro.org.
MassNAHRO’s services include:
§ Monthly information concerning pertinent Federal and State legislation, issues impacting housing and community development programs, policy changes and other matters of importance to members.
§ Professional development opportunities including educational and technical workshops, seminars and conferences utilizing expert trainers and leaders in the field. MassNAHRO offers both the Massachusetts Public Housing Administrator and Board Member Certification Programs at various locations across the state on a continual basis.
§ Representation at the State Legislature, the MA Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Members also have access to publications, an awards program, discounts on products and services, networking opportunities and service on standing committees. MassNAHRO also administers an insurance plan that offers worker’s compensation coverage to members.
MassNAHRO was instrumental in public housing reform and the passage of Chapter 235 of the Acts of 2014 - An Act Relative to Local Housing Authorities: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2014/Chapter235. Chapter 235 provides innovative strategies designed to assist Authorities with capital improvement, purchasing, unit turn over, wait list management and interagency collaborations. MassNAHRO worked closely with the Joint Committee on Housing, State Senators and Representatives, local housing authority staff, residents and other local officials to achieve the positive sweeping changes to the oversight, governance and operation of local housing authorities brought about by this blueprint for the future.
MassNAHRO is governed by a Board of Directors of approximately 20 housing authority Executive Directors/Commissioners. The new Executive Director will succeed long-time well-respected leader Tom Connelly who has recently retired.
The Executive Director reports directly to the MassNAHRO Board of Directors and serves as the spokesperson, liaison and coordinator with all major stakeholders of the Association. S/he is accountable for the Association’s financial performance and is responsible for daily management of all operations of MassNAHRO. We seek a leader with intellect, initiative, integrity and flexibility to work with an active membership; respect and humility to honor the impressive work done to date; and creativity to lead the Association to new levels of service.
§ External Leadership: Advocate on behalf of MassNAHRO members for needed affordable housing and community development laws and policies and involve members as appropriate. Develop relationships with legislators, other public officials, federal and state agencies such as HUD and DHCD, peer membership organizations, and local, state and national leaders. Serve as spokesperson concerning the business and governmental affairs of the Association as directed by the Board and manage the Association’s media relations.
§ Financial Oversight: Prepare an annual budget and manage financial affairs within the approved budget. Present transparent financial reports and immediately communicate any financial or fiduciary issues to the Board. Explore new and innovative avenues for revenue generation.
§ Association Management: Manage the Association on an ongoing basis including provision of all services promised to members as part of their Association dues. Oversee provision of professional development services and programs for members, and advocate on behalf of the membership.
§ Personnel Management: Maintain and follow appropriate policies for hiring, discipline and termination of staff. Provide day-to-day direction, delegation and control for the staff, maintaining a high performing and productive environment of talented and enthusiastic employees.
§ Interaction with the Board: Report to and confer with the Board of Directors, providing information to help the Board in strategic planning and formulating effective policies. Support the board in effective governance, ensure the effectiveness of the committee structure, and provide staff support to committees. Facilitate monthly board meetings. Implement policies of the Association as determined by the Board, reporting to the Board on progress and completion of assigned tasks and goals. Execute, secure and maintain corporate documents and commitments as authorized by the Board.
§ Member communication: Encourage membership in the Association and maintain active, supportive relationships with members. Regularly provide members with up-to-date and accurate information pertinent to the goals and decisions of the Association as well as legislative updates. Attend meetings of related organizations to provide updates on Association activities and generate support of Association priorities. Generate informative articles for monthly newsletters and take an active role at related conferences and events.
§ Commitment to the mission and dedication to affordable housing, public housing and/or community development
§ Experience in affordable housing, public housing and/or community development administration
§ Up-to-date knowledge of programs and policies governing affordable housing, public housing and/or community development
§ Experience in legislative and policy advocacy/government relations and outstanding advocacy skills
§ Proven experience successfully managing an organization including financial and staff management
§ Experience working with a board of directors
§ Proven ability to successfully manage critical, strategic relationships with partners
§ Strong team orientation and evidence of collaborative and respectful work style
§ Ability and experience as a dynamic and compelling spokesperson
§ Exceptional oral, written, listening and interpersonal communications skills
§ Association management experience/certification a plus.
To Apply in confidence, please send cover letter and resume to Susan Egmont, Egmont Associates, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mary MacDonald | April 27, 2018 6:30 am
R.I. Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp. is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year in a position of financial strength, says Executive Director Barbara Fields.
It has created programs to assist first-time homeowners, expanded its servicing of mortgages to include those generated by MaineHousing and emerged from the Great Recession with a surplus of financial assets.
But it is working against a backdrop of unaffordability. Half of all renters and 30 percent of homeowners in Rhode Island are housing-cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their take-home income on rent and utilities.
Fields has been executive director of the quasi-public agency since January 2015. She previously was the New England regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the director of the Local Initiatives Support Corp. in Providence.
What’s the best way for Rhode Island to increase access to affordable housing?
“Build, build, build,” she said.
How has the mission of R.I. Housing changed over the past 45 years? R.I. Housing was established by the General Assembly in 1973 as a public corporation of the state. We have an independent existence from the state, although they exercise a central control over our board. Our primary purpose was to encourage investment of private funds for the development of housing for low- and moderate-income persons, and to function as a source of capital for affordable-housing development. We were basically set up to be the state’s housing bank at a time when many other states were doing this. Today, there are 53 housing finance agencies [nationally].
Within Rhode Island, what is your share of home loan origination? Last year, we did 13 percent of the mortgages in the state. Origination … is only 15 percent of our business. Eighty-five percent of our business comes from working with 40 brokers and lenders and we consider them, obviously, critical and important partners. The No. 1 is [Coastway Community Bank]. They help bring us business. Housing is economic development. We help support local businesses. … Also, we were set up to bring private money in to help people get into home ownership. We go to Wall Street and float taxable and tax-exempt bonds, both for single-family and multifamily.
Since the [Great Recession], what has changed in our business is we also sell in the secondary market. We get a warehouse line of credit. We work with three or four banks. We purchase the mortgages and when we get enough, we bundle them and we sell them in the secondary market as securitized mortgages.
What’s the benefit of doing that? The interest rates have been extremely low. There are key Rhode Island officials … who got their first mortgages at RIHousing. [Former Auditor General] Ernie Almonte in 1982 or 1983 bought [his] first house. The rates were 15-16 percent and we could get you 12 [percent]. We forget. In a video on our website he stands in front of his first house. That speaks to what our major focus and mission is. People who are early in their career, buying a home and setting roots in the community. Last year was a banner year. We did almost 1,800 mortgages. The average age of someone who got a mortgage through RIHousing last year was 37.
Is there any focus this year for the organization? Rental apartments for working families, working individuals and a lot more seniors. We have a growing senior population. … [Recently], we got the first-ever Capital Magnet Fund. We got one of the largest in the country. It’s from the U.S. Department of Treasury. It’s $4.7 million and it will help us on a key focus. … We run a lot of federal programs on behalf of the state. One of them is the federal low-income housing tax credit. … There are two sets of credits. One is a deeper subsidy, called the 9 percent. It’s highly competitive. We’re doing as much as we possibly can with what we get. The other, which is a shallower subsidy [of 4 percent] that has to be used with our first mortgage, that is limited by the state’s bond capacity. We are not tapped out, and we would love to do more of those deals. And produce more rental housing and preserve housing that exists. [With] that Capital Magnet, we’ll be able to fill that hole, between the 4 percent and the 9 percent.
What is the profile of your mortgage borrower? The average household income for the homeowners we served last year was … about $66,000 to $67,000. That’s teachers who may be in for a few years, certified accountants, nursing assistants, construction workers. This is the heart and soul of what makes up our middle class. And the average sale price was just under $200,000. And I’m proud of the fact that 27 percent of our mortgages are reaching the minority community. We’re seeing rising prices, so some of that rise is good, it means our economy is getting better. … One of the challenges is … just having more housing built in the state.
You’ve touched on the lack of inventory in single-family homes. What is the solution? How do we get more inventory? Build, build, build.
How? There are different pieces. Some of them we’re beginning to explore: if there are zoning challenges and communities that aren’t interested. Personally, I’ve been going around the state for the past year. I’ve been in Barrington, Middletown, Cumberland, talking to mayors, city councilors and town councils. I would have to say, by and large, they are welcoming. Everyone at this point has a story to tell. It’s either my son won’t leave the house, [or] soon it will be my mother won’t leave the house. Or my sister-in-law’s godchild and her fiancé are looking for a house, and they can’t find it. Seniors are staying longer in their homes. They’re living longer and are in better health. That’s not freeing [housing] up.
If there is an understanding of what the issue is, why aren’t more towns creating zoning to allow more density? I think South Kingstown just did some [rezoning] along Route 1. As I say to the communities, think about your community. I’ve been out with two mayors now, I’m about to go with a third, [and I say] drive me around your city, your town, and tell me, where do you want development? Because it is likely to come, and wouldn’t you want to proactively direct it to those places? In South Kingstown, they started talking about some properties that they knew.
There is always going to be some NIMBY-ism [or “not in my backyard”], but we have not had that raised as a major issue. We’re now funding our second project in Barrington. … We have done one now in Shannock Village, in Charlestown. These are apartments for families, most earning between $30,000 and $50,000 a year. Anyone can apply. But mostly you get people from your community. When we run the numbers in these communities, usually you find 20 percent of current residents would be eligible. … The most important thing to understand is there isn’t one type of housing that we advocate for. We have high-rise buildings. We have single-family homes being built. We have duplexes. We have ground-floor retail and townhouses.
So, people may have a visual that pops into their head when they think of affordable housing. They don’t want it developed in their community because they think it’s going to be ugly? We’re smarter about how to build [today]. We think about housing as part of the community, and community is the economic life of the state. I’m a community-development person coming into housing, so I am always thinking about the connection. We always look when we are financing multifamily rental, where are the parks, where’s the bus line, where do you shop for groceries? What is it that makes a community?
People still assume millennials are living in the basement with their parents. But they’re out there buying now, they are the starter-home market. You have a variety of mortgage programs, including down-payment assistance. But they’re running into an inventory problem. Are the state’s demographics part of the problem? It’s a variety of factors. You have millennials who are now ready to buy. You have a tremendous change in the economy. We went from the second-worst unemployment rate in the country to one of the lowest. We did a 10-year study. Even if the population grows slowly, we projected it would grow at 5 percent [over 10 years]. Households will grow at 12-13 percent. People are waiting longer to marry. You have a lot of singles, or two people in a house without a child until later. So, people need more houses. People are divorcing. You have more households being created by all of these factors. Especially if you go back and see what was going on 30 years ago. The average size in public housing is smaller. Occasionally we will see a proposal come in with a four-bedroom unit or a five-bedroom unit. But we are building one, two and three [bedrooms].
There is some pushback in Providence that the new housing being constructed is primarily downtown housing not designed to accommodate families, who also need housing. Does Rhode Island need more small apartments? A healthy rental market has about a 6.5-7.5 percent rental vacancy rate, so you have turnover, you have empty units for people to come and look at. The nation is below that. Rhode Island dropped last year … to under 4 percent. And Providence is lower than the state. Providence is about 2 percent. So, we need rental apartments, as well as owner-occupied apartments. We’re in a niche, but it’s needed across the income ranges. Part of what’s increased the demand here also is people coming from the Boston area. This is an attractive place to live.
In Massachusetts, a state law called 40B seems to have more strength in getting affordable housing built in individual towns. (The law allows developers to bypass local zoning in towns or cities that have less than 10 percent of the housing stock available at affordable prices.) What is the challenge for Rhode Island’s affordable-housing requirement? FortyB has a lot more teeth. I would say, yes, we have a 10 percent law. … A [state] commission is looking at how to make it stronger.
Do you think it needs to be made stronger, to distribute affordable housing? Yes, I believe so. When you sit down and talk to a community about who would live in the housing you’re talking about, it becomes a very different story. Up here, it’s like numbers, ideas and images. Down here, it’s “Oh, it’s my best friend. It’s my brother-in-law.”
There are many Rhode Islanders who earn less than the state median, as well. I don’t care what your job is. No one makes in their first five years what they might later. We want to accommodate that. I’m sure Ernie Almonte’s salary is different today than it was 25 years ago, when we helped him buy his first house. But that was a good investment to make. It wasn’t a giveaway.
Some activist groups have recommended rent control in Providence, to dampen price escalation. Is rent control an option? My preference is to build. Supply is the approach now being done in Boston. If we can increase the supply, it helps to moderate the prices. We are also involved in several efforts to make sure we maintain the affordable units that we have, that work for people at the lowest income levels. We are very committed to preservation, whether it’s senior units or family housing. We need to preserve what we have. A lot of the housing we’re preserving is 30 years old.
Some community advocates in Providence think city incentives via tax-stabilization agreements should not be used on luxury housing. The Fane Organization tower could be the next argument over this. Should public incentives be used for luxury product? I would just say the TSA process needs to be predictable. No matter what program we run, people want predictability. In Providence, TSAs are needed so we have predictability. If you meet these requirements, you can come in.
Sen. Howard Metts, D-Providence, has raised the issue of discrimination against Section 8 tenants, that the people who hold the vouchers are having trouble finding apartments. He has proposed a law that would prevent landlords from using the source of income as a reason to block a lease. Is this an issue? Absolutely. Thirteen states have that law, including four New England states. We’re supportive of [his proposal].
Gov. Gina M. Raimondo has proposed a transfer to the state of $5 million from R.I. Housing in fiscal 2019. Can the state “scoop” your funds? The board will have to vote on it. We’re going to minimize the impact. It will have an impact, obviously, but we’re going to minimize it. This came up in January. We know the budget will be made by the end of June.
Why did you agree to do it? The governor controls the board and we’re part of the team. Someone talked to the chairman. It’s not an optimal situation. But we’re going to minimize it. We get rated by the bond-rating agencies and we’re talking with them. They will take a look at our rating. But we happen to be in a strong position.
According to your most recent annual audit, your loan-loss contribution fell dramatically in fiscal 2017. What is the story behind that? The market is doing better. People are doing better. We had tremendous losses during the recession, now we’re on a different path. We hope it continues.
The same audit indicated that the three-month delinquencies on R.I. Housing mortgages rose between 2016 and 2017. What is the reason for that? We had a slight uptick, but we are on top of it. We are below nationwide and below New England. We have new metrics we’re following and are working with our 40 brokers and lenders. We look at people’s credit scores and we look at their ratios. We meet, we want [the Federal Housing Administration] to purchase our mortgages, FHA and Fannie Mae. We have some flexibility. We instituted a credit score to raise it a little, to make sure we’re in line with the rest of the New England states.
Some people think homeownership shouldn’t necessarily be identified as a dream for everyone. That maybe we shouldn’t be encouraging homeownership. Do you have any thoughts on that? We should always have a range of housing options. … There are people who need a homeownership opportunity, they’ve saved for years. It may be a single-family, a townhouse, a condominium. We need rental opportunities. Seniors who owned a home who need a rental opportunity. Supportive opportunities, say veterans, where there are services on-site for them. And we also work on properties where we have the vouchers. Every community needs to think, at different points in people’s lives … there are different reasons why people choose types of housing.
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