News & Event
Posted:Feb 9, 2018 at 7:40 PM
Updated:Feb 9, 2018 at 8:01 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Clark Schoettle, who has worked on neighborhood revitalization in Providence for nearly 35 years, will retire in June as executive director of the Providence Revolving Fund, the organization announced this week.
“It is impossible to overstate the impact that Clark has had on the City of Providence’s historic buildings and neighborhoods,” said architect Christine West, president of the Revolving Fund’s board. “The singular beauty of Providence comes from its rich historic character, and it would be difficult to identify a renewed historic building in our city that Clark has not had a direct influence upon through either the Providence Revolving Fund or his numerous civic and volunteer roles.”
Schoettle has led the Providence Revolving Fund since 1983, “transforming the organization from a small historic preservation loan fund to a $12-million community development fund,” the group added.
Since the 1980s, the Revolving Fund has invested more than $14 million in the West Broadway and Elmwood neighborhoods by buying and redeveloping 63 abandoned houses for affordable homeownership, and by making 470 loans to property owners to restore homes.
In 2003, Schoettle negotiated a $7.8-million investment with the Rhode Island Foundation to establish a dedicated loan fund for Downtown Providence, PRF noted. Since then, “the Downcity Fund has invested over $16 million to redevelop 24 underutilized buildings, leveraging $155 million in additional financing and stimulating the revitalization of downtown.”
Under Schoettle’s leadership, the Revolving Fund has also “consulted on 140 historic and low-income housing tax credit projects totaling over $350 million in re-investment in historic buildings in Rhode Island.”
Schoettle’s efforts were seen in “the financing and renovation of 22 of the historic houses surrounding the Dexter Training Ground; the redevelopment of a failed HUD project on Adelaide Avenue which resulted in the restoration of 11 properties for affordable homeownership; the development of 39 artist residences at Monohasset Mill; the financing and development of 12 buildings which revitalized Luongo Square; and renovation of several buildings on Westminster Street by the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, including their headquarters in an old gas station,” according to PRF.
“Restored buildings in downtown Providence funded by the PRF include AS220′s Empire Street and Mercantile Block, the Peerless Lofts, Saki’s Pizza on Weybosset, the Providence G, and the Dean Hotel,” while more recent efforts include “the redevelopment of the Almy Street School on the west side of Providence; the current restoration underway of the Kendrick-Prentice-Tirocchi House, aka the ‘Wedding Cake House’ on Broadway; and the Case-Meade, Union Trust, and Woolworth Buildings on Dorrance.”
Schoettle plans to continue serving on the Providence Historic District Commission and the Downtown Design Review Committee.
“The Revolving Fund has been very much a part of me for more than half of my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else that could be so gratifying and important,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to work with diverse groups of people to try different approaches and accomplish the historic preservation of difficult buildings to revitalize neighborhoods.”
The search for a new executive director is under way, and a celebratory tribute to Schoettle is planned for later this year.
Courtesy of Providence Journal
Posted Jan 5, 2018 at 10:26 PM
Updated Jan 5, 2018 at 10:26 PM
On Friday nights Megan Smith walks through downtown Providence looking for people who may be struggling with homelessness, addiction, poverty — or some combination of the three — to connect with.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Inside the bus station in Kennedy Plaza, Megan Smith held a grocery bag stuffed with gloves and hats. In her pocket, a stack of bus tickets and Narcan.
“The essentials of life,” she mused. “Or of some life.”
Smith works as a project manager at House of Hope, a Warwick-based outreach center for the homeless. On Friday nights, she walks through downtown Providence looking for people who may be struggling with homelessness, addiction, poverty — or some combination of the three — to connect with.
“The root of it is nonjudgmental listening, bearing witness and from that trying to tackle things at the micro and macro level,” Smith said, snow crunching beneath her boots.
But this Friday was different. With 20-mph winds barreling down Broad Street, she braced against the icy temperatures in an attempt to persuade people to go inside. Or at least accept a pair of ski gloves.
“This is the kind of night where if someone doesn’t have a safe place to be, everything else is moot,” she said. “Because they might not get a tomorrow. It’s that cold out here.”
She plodded down Broad Street with interns Sara Melucci and Andy O’Dell, checking stairways and around corners for people. It seemed the extreme cold, 12 below zero with the windchill, had driven most indoors. But not all.
Robert Souza stood in a thin coat outside the 7-Eleven on Dorrance Street, his arms wrapped around himself.
“Could any of you spare change for a bus ticket,” he asked. Smith launched into action. She procured a pair of gloves and helped Souza put them on his hands. And then handed him a bus pass, so he could get back to Riverside, where he had a place to stay.
“Oh sweetness,” he said as he slipped on the gloves. “Oh thank you. I can’t thank you enough.”
With a quick smile, Smith continued to the bus station. Inside the terminal was a swirl of chaos. Some people were trying to catch buses, some buying time in the heated station.
Mark Rossignol fell into the latter category. From her years as a caseworker, Smith recognizes nearly every straggler left in the terminal or on the street outside. But Rossignol was a new face. She sensed he needed help because of the giant backpack parked next to him.
“Good evening, sir,” she said as she approached and introduced herself. Rossignol smiled wide when presented with gloves.
“Thank you so much,” he said, while having difficulty moving his frozen hands. “It’s so painful, the cold. I can’t thank you enough.”
Rossignol shared his story — he was born in Massachusetts, and lived in Rhode Island as a child when his father, who was in the Navy, was stationed in Newport. Forty years ago, the family moved to Florida.
After a separation from his wife a few weeks ago, Rossignol said he decided to “come home.” He was met with the coldest weather he’s ever experienced.
Hesitant to go to Crossroads Rhode Island, he was waiting for a break in the weather that likely won’t reach Rhode Island until Monday. Nights at a shelter can be loud and scary, Rossignol explained. He has schizophrenia and deals with bouts of paranoia, making the shelter environment even more of a challenge, he said.
Before he even finished his tale, Smith was making phone calls. Providence Rescue Mission usually doesn’t allow people after a certain hour, but she got Rossignol in.
Elated, he bundled back up and headed to the bus stop.
Smith and the interns walked back up to Cathedral Square toward Crossroads, continuing to check each corner.
“Please don’t try to stay outside,” Smith begged anyone passing by. “Please.”
On Twitter: @jacktemp
Courtesy of Providence Journal
Posted:Feb 14, 2018 at 12:32 PM
Updated:Feb 14, 2018 at 7:55 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Meeting Wednesday morning at the home of an elderly couple facing eviction, about 20 activists from DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) announced the start of an effort to put a rent-control initiative on the Providence ballot this fall.
The protest at 40 Grove St. in Federal Hill was in support of the Trottier family, facing eviction Feb. 28 by a new corporate owner from Boston, Providence Student Living. The new investor purchased the three-family house last November and intends to lease at higher rents to students, according to DARE. A spokesperson for Providence Student Living could not be immediately reached for comment.
Butch, 78, and Madonna Trottier, 76, live on the first floor of 40 Grove St. Butch Trottier said that their son, Steven, who is in his 40s and is disabled, lives on the second floor. Christopher Samih-Rotondo, an organizer from DARE, said the third-floor tenant has already been evicted.
Butch Trottier said they were paying $800 a month for their apartment, but withheld rent because it wasn’t properly heated by the landlord. Samih-Rotondo said that when the Trottiers went to court, the judge said the Trottiers wouldn’t have to pay back rent because of the heating issue, but they were still ordered to leave by the end of the month.
Butch Trottier said the family has not been able to find a residence they can afford.
“For months, Providence Student Living has refused to make the Trottiers’ home safe and livable,” DARE said, “and the Trottiers have had to make it through winter without working heat and with broken windows and doors, a collapsed ceiling in their bathroom and rat infestation. Now Providence Student Living is attempting to evict them by the end of February, with plans to renovate and rent to wealthier students after the Trottiers are forced out. The Trottiers are facing homelessness.”
About 20 people attended the 8 a.m. protest, including Rep. John J. Lombardi, D-Providence, who lives on Grove Street.
DARE activist Malchus Mills said the organization is starting an effort to gather signatures to put a Providence rent-control initiative on the city ballot in November. Although rent control is needed statewide, seeking it in Providence first is a place to start, he said.
The aim is to make increases, limited to once a year, subject to a city rent control board, according to Mills.
According to the office of Mayor Jorge Elorza, the City Charter would require DARE to submit a petition of 1,000 qualified registered voters along with their proposed ordinance for action. Then, the City Council would have 70 days to consider the ordinance. If the council failed to enact the proposed ordinance without amendment, “it then shifts to a referendum petition whereby 5 percent of the qualified registered voters (some 6,000) are needed for the City Council to have City voters consider the ballot referendum at the next general election.” This ballot referendum petition must be submitted at least 60 days before the general election.
According to the 2017 Factbook from HousingWorks RI, most of the households in Providence are renting households. In the East Side, 56 percent rent and 44 percent own, while in the rest of the city, 67 percent rent and 33 percent own. In the East Side, 48 percent of the renters are cost-burdened, defined as paying more than 30 percent of income on housing costs, while in the rest of the city, 57 percent are cost-burdened, according to HousingWorks.
The 2017 Factbook added that the average two-bedroom rent on the East Side was $1,431, while it was $1,203 in the rest of the city.
On Twitter: @ChristineMDunn
By Christine Dunn
Journal Staff Writer
Posted Dec 12, 2017 at 12:41 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Standing outside in the cold drizzle Tuesday morning, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced new housing assistance for residents in the form of down-payment/closing-cost loans for home buyers, and loans for home repairs.
The city has made $200,000 available for down-payment help, which will be available starting Jan. 15, and another $200,000 for home repairs. Both programs are being financed through the city’s community development block grant money. The City Council is also considering adding another $200,000 to the home-repair loan program, for which funds are available now.
All the assistance is in the form of a zero-percent interest, deferred-payment loans for up to $25,000. Payment is due upon sale, change of primary residence, refinancing with cash out, debt consolidation or transfer of the property title.
Tuesday’s announcement was made in front of a home at 160 Langdon St., purchased last year for $130,000 by Magda Berroa with down-payment assistance from the city. Berroa is the mother of a son with special needs.
City Councilman Nicholas Narducci (Ward 4) said he lives about 10 houses down from Berroa’s home, and he remembers that the house was vacant for a long time, and had started to become a neighborhood trouble spot. Acting Council President Sabina Matos and Councilman David Salvatore were also at the announcement.
“Fostering housing equality is one of my administration’s top priorities,” the mayor said.
Melina Lodge, executive director of the Housing Network, noted that Providence is one of a handful of municipalities in the state that has made down-payment assistance available to residents. Lodge’s group, an association of nonprofit community-development agencies and affordable-housing developers, will manage the city’s down-payment assistance program. The home-repair program is being run by the city’s Community Development Division.
The down-payment and closing-cost assistance is available to buyers who meet HUD income limits who purchase a 1- to 3-family home or condominium. The properties must be the owners’ primary residences. The program is also restricted to those who can commit to staying in the property for at least five years. The funding is extremely limited and will be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis.
The home-repair loan program helps qualified homeowners perform a variety of home-improvement projects, including emergency roof replacements, heating-system replacements and correction of code violations.
Applications for the home-repair program are also processed on a first-come, first-serve basis unless an emergency situation exists that warrants prioritization (for example, a house with no heat or no running water). For more information or to apply, call (401) 680-8400 or visit http://www.providenceri.gov/planning/community-development/. Applications are also available by visiting the Joseph A. Doorley, Jr. Municipal Building at 444 Westminster St., Providence.
For more information on how to apply for down payment and closing-cost assistance, call (401) 721-5680 or visit the Housing Network of Rhode Island’s website www.housingnetworkri.org/our-programs/down-payment-and-closing-cost-assistance-program/. Applications can be made in person by visiting the Housing Action Coalition of Rhode Island at 1070 Main St., Pawtucket.
On Twitter @ChristineMDunn
Courtesy of Providence Journal
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 Christine Dunn
Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — More than 200 residents of the Hartford Parks and Manton Heights public housing developments have enrolled in Jobs Plus, a grant-funded program run by the Providence Housing Authority.
Staffers from the PHA, local officials and partners, and Jobs Plus participants met Thursday morning to mark the progress of the program, which launched in April.
The PHA received a four-year, $2.9-million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to run the Jobs Plus program. The PHA was one of 24 public housing authorities in the country selected for the competitive grant program.
Jobs Plus aims to increase residents’ earned income without penalizing them with a rent increase, with the goal of creating a “culture of work” in public housing.
The staff established partnerships with local organizations to provide participants with access to work-readiness training, industry-specific job skills training, and job placement and retention services.
Diana Saldana, who lives in Manton Heights, started working as a part-time Jobs Plus community outreach worker in May, and in August she got a full-time job with benefits as an administrative assistant at We Make RI.
Another aspect of the program is financial literacy. Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of One Neighborhood Builders, said her group is offering financial literacy and financial coaching help to residents.
Carmen Navarro from Hartford Park received financial literacy training, and also enlisted in ESL classes to help her understand and pass the Rhode Island Nursing Assistant state exam. She trained to become a certified nursing assistant while also holding down a full-time job.
Mayor Jorge Elorza, acting City Council President Sabina Matos, Councilwoman and PHA board member Mary Kay Harris, Nicolas Retsinas, who chairs the boards of both the PHA and Rhode Island Housing, and Progreso Latino Executive Director Mario Bueno were among those who attended the event to cheer on the PHA effort, led by Program Manager Julie Piccolo.
Many paid tribute to PHA Executive Director Paul Tavares, who is retiring at the end of the year.
“I thank you for your honorable service,” said Nancy Smith Greer, director of HUD’s Rhode Island office.
Christine Dunn, Journal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE, R.I.- " Some of the prettiest homes in ProvidenceA are affordable housing. That was the unspoken but clear message at Thursday's housing trolley tour of the Smith Hill, Olneyville and South Providence neighborhoods. Senators and housing officials looked at restored historical houses and newly built homes, many adorned with flower boxes, black wrought-iron fencing, and shiny metal mailboxes.
Many of the homes on the tour were formerly boarded-up, abandoned and/or foreclosed properties, remnants of the foreclosure crisis.
Organized by Rhode Island Housing and the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government, the tour was designed to show all the aspects of neighborhood revitalization that have accompanied investments in affordable housing in the capital city. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio was a member of the tour group.
I really don't like the word affordable, said Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing. Unfortunately, it conjures up images from the '40s, '50s and '60s ... and nobody is building housing like that anymore.
Certainly not in Olneyville, where the attractive Riverside Townhomes, built by One Neighborhood Builders (formerly Olneyville Housing) overlook the playground, fish ladder and community garden at Riverside Park. The park used to be a hotspot for crime in Olneyville, according to two Providence police officers, Lt. Henry Remolina and Lt. Richard Fernandes, who met the group at the park.
The park once was a contaminated moonscape, said Jay O'Grady, who used to work at Olneyville Housing. He now works for LISC, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which has invested $75 million in Olneyville in recent years, according to Carrie Zaslow, also of LISC. About $14 million was spent on environmental remediation of the site, according to Alicia Lehrer, executive director of the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council.
The improvement of this section of Olneyville was designed with input from local police to help enhance safety, and the officers said it has led to a dramatic drop in crime.
A short distance away is an active construction site at the former Imperial Knife factory in Olneyville. The building is being converted into 60 apartments, including 54 affordable units and six 1 market-rate homes.
Fields said Rhode Island Housing helps all Rhode Islanders, including millennials saddled with student debt and the state's growing senior population.
In Smith Hill, about a third of the houses in the Pekin Street Historic District, mainly distressed properties, were purchased by the Smith Hill Community Development Corporation and redeveloped, according to Jean Lamb, executive director of the CDC.
Rhode Island's housing shortage remains acute, Fields said a normal rental vacancy rate is about 7 percent, but it is 4 percent in Rhode Island as a whole and it is at 2 percent in Providence, she said. This has led to rising rents and is even pushing many renters into homeownership, Fields added.
But the competition for entry-level homes is especially acute, said Carla DeStefano, executive director of Stop Wasting Abandoned Property. She said her group mainly serves working families earning between $30,000 and $48,000 a year. SWAP's most recent home ownership development was sold out before the foundations were poured, she said.
There are no private builders building what we build anywhere in the state, DeStefano said.
On Twitter: @ChristineMDunn
Courtesy of the Providence Journal Bulletin
Stay in the loop by subscribing to our newsletter!
Newsletter Sign Up
Newsletter Sign Up
One Empire Plaza, Ste. 327
Providence, RI 02903
HousingWorks RI is a proud partner of RI Alliance for Healthy Homes