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Myths & Facts

MYTH: Investment in affordable homes won’t have a significant positive impact on the economy.

FACT: HousingWorks RI recently conducted a statewide economic impact study of the Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) program and the results are clear. Public investment in housing, specifically in affordable workforce homes, has a tangible, positive impact on Rhode Island’s economy.

The report analyzed the impact of the BHRI program for the State’s economy using the IMPLAN economic input-output model for Rhode Island.

  • The $50 million of BHRI investments in Rhode Island have generated close to $800 million in total economic activity, multiplying nearly 16 times throughout our state’s economy.
  • In addition to offering a return of $16 per $1 invested, BHRI has also supported nearly 6,100 jobs in Rhode Island, generating about $300 million in wages, which workers use to purchase local goods and services and contribute to municipal and state economies.
  • 53% of the total estimated cost of residential construction permitted from 2007 to 2010 was for developments supported by the Building Homes Rhode Island program.



MYTH: The real estate market downturn and the foreclosure crisis have made homes affordable – we don’t need to support the creation of affordable homes in Rhode Island.

FACT: HousingWorks RI commissioned Hart Research Associates, a leading national survey research firm, to conduct a telephone survey of 500 registered voters in Rhode Island. The research dispels the myth that voters see the real estate market downturn as having solved Rhode Island’s affordable housing crisis.

Distressed properties often seem like a deal, but many of these homes are in poor condition requiring extensive and costly improvements to make them livable.


MYTH: Affordable homes are substandard and unattractive and will negatively change the character of my neighborhood.

FACT: Just look at the photos on this website or walk through the neighborhoods of affordable developments in Rhode Island and you’ll see that affordable homes can be among the best-built, best-maintained properties in the community. Requirements of the programs that finance the development of these homes ensure that affordable homes are well designed, attractively landscaped, and constructed of quality, energy-efficient materials. The high standard of construction for these homes allows them to better integrate and actually improve the communities where they are built.


MYTH: Affordable homes will lower my property value and be a drain on my community.

FACT: This is one of the most common and misleading misconceptions about affordable homes and one of the biggest concerns raised over the development of affordable homes. For several years, sufficient research has disproven these false notions. Architectural standards and adequate maintenance strongly influence property values. Properly maintained affordable housing developments, designed and built with sensitivity to the architectural and aesthetic standards desired by the community, may even increase the property values.


MYTH: Nobody I know needs an affordable home.

FACT: The current economic times have made it even more likely that you know someone who is either struggling to find a home they can afford or to afford the home they currently have. HousingWorks RI’s analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 5-Year American Community Survey data indicates that Rhode Island is the most housing cost-burdened state in New England. According to federal and state standards, a household should spend no more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs, including utilities; otherwise, families may not have enough income for other basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, medical care and education. The 2005-2009 ACS data show that 162,442 households in Rhode Island, or 41.7 percent, are housing cost-burdened.

What's more, in April 2010, The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Workforce Housing released a study that, for the first time, calculated the combined costs of housing and transportation for families living in Rhode Island, most of eastern Massachusetts, and parts of southern New Hampshire. According to the study’s findings, the combined costs of housing and transportation for a mortgaged household in Rhode Island account for 58% of the median household income in the Ocean State. According to the study, this qualifies many Rhode Island communities as extremely cost-burdened.