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Special Report: The Complete Approach to Funding Affordable Housing

Published on May 22, 2013

HousingWorks RI today released its Special Report: The Complete Approach to Funding Affordable Housing. The report looks at the high housing cost burdens facing Rhode Island renters and how a state budget appropriation to support affordable rental housing can address these cost burdens and promote economic growth.

“HousingWorks RI’s analysis revealed that workers in Rhode Island’s most frequently employed occupation groups earn less than the hourly wage needed to afford the average 2-bedroom rent in Rhode Island,” said Jessica Cigna, the research and policy associate for HousingWorks RI. “High housing cost burdens put Rhode Island at a distinct competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining workers.”

Quick Glance Findings:SpecialReportOperatingCoverImage2013

  • A household must earn $47,040 to afford the average 2-bedroom rent ($1,176), but the median renter household income in Rhode Island was $30,505 in 2011
  • 26 percent of renter households in Rhode Island spend more than half their income on housing
  • 32 percent of families with children under the age of 17 spend more than half their income on rental housing costs
  • Rhode Island spends less than half, per capita, on affordable housing than our New England neighbors:

                                                 - Connecticut: $34 per capita
                                                 - Massachusetts: $32 per capita
                                                 - Rhode Island: $12 per capita

“Both Connecticut and Massachusetts recognize why affordable housing is essential for a stronger economy,” Cigna said. “As a result, they invest money to build affordable housing and appropriate significant budget dollars that help make rents in those developments affordable to lower-wage workers.”

Rhode Island currently invests in the building of affordable housing through a housing bond passed by voters in 2012. While rental supports are a common budget appropriation in other states, this line item was not in the Governor’s FY2014 budget plan.