News & Event
Posted May 25, 2018 at 12:33 PM
Updated May 25, 2018 at 9:25 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Several speakers at HousingWorks RI’s forum on gentrification on Friday said they don’t need an academic study to tell them that many longtime city residents are getting priced out of the housing market.
City Council member Luis Aponte said it’s almost impossible to find an apartment in South Providence today because so many houses are being purchased by investors who renovate them and then rent them for ”$650 or $750 a month, per bedroom” to students.
“We see a direct impact,” he said. “It makes the cost of housing for families skyrocket.” Aponte represents Ward 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Lower South Providence and Washington Park.
Aponte said the city’s “meds and eds” — medical and educational institutions — need to do more to address the city’s affordable housing problem. He said every time Brown University buys a new building, it’s a positive for the new jobs it will bring, but it often takes another building off the tax rolls, and puts more pressure on the housing market.
On Friday, HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University released a report, “You Don’t Have A Problem Until You Do: Revitalization and Gentrification in Providence, Rhode Island.” It was adapted from a master’s thesis written by Fay Strongin, who studied city planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Strongin attended a Friday morning session at RWU’s Providence campus to discuss her findings, along with a panel that included Teresa Guaba, of the Providence Children & Youth Cabinet; Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders; Ana Novais of the Rhode Island Department of Health; and Taino Palermo of Roger Williams University. The discussion was moderated by Brenda Clement, executive director of HousingWorks.
Strongin’s report documented that several neighborhoods in Providence, including those clustered near downtown and Federal Hill, have experienced rent increases between 2000 and 2015 that far outpaced those seen in other sections of the city.
While the citywide median rent jumped 26.1 percent between 2000 and 2015, some neighborhoods experienced a 47.8-percent average increase in median gross rent, nearly double the growth citywide, and nearly triple the increase seen in non-gentrifying neighborhoods, where rents increased by 16.2 percent, Strongin found.
The report defines gentrification as a process in which housing costs rise after new investment comes into “historically disinvested” low-income neighborhoods.
Guaba said she is a longtime Providence resident and has seen residents displaced from Fox Point due to gentrification, and she sees a similar trend happening now in South Providence.
“It’s not rocket science, because I think we all know what’s going on,” she said.
Novais, a resident of Pawtucket, said that city is also experiencing gentrification.
Clement said in Providence, unlike cities where housing costs have spiraled out of sight, “we’re early enough in the process to control it,” by being proactive.
Panelists discussed options including inclusionary zoning, which is requiring new housing developments to have a percentage of affordable units, and more incentive-based options, such as rewarding developers with more density if they include affordable units.
On Twitter @ChristineMDunn
Courtesy of Providence Journal
A gubernatorial forum and debate between the 2018 candidates will be held on Wednesday, May 9th at the Sheraton Airport Hotel, 1850 Post Road in Warwick, RI.
This forum will be focused on the issue of affordable housing, with the debate portion of the night to be moderated by Bill Rappleye of NBC 10.
Doors open at 6:30PM, the event will begin at 7PM, and is set to conclude by 9PM.
Attendees will be encouraged to actively participate and raise topics, questions, and issues for discussion.
Future forums are planned regarding the issues of: healthcare, "A tale of two Rhode Islands", and economic success.
Candidates confirmed for this event are, in no particular order:
Paul Roselli, Democrat
Spencer Dickinson, Democrat
Giovanni Feroce, Republican
TBA, Moderate Party
Invitations have also been extended to candidates Allan Fung (R), Patricia Morage (R), Matt Brown (D), Joe Trillo (I) and incumbent Gina Raimondo (D) but their attendance has not yet been confirmed.
To get up to date information, visit the Facebook Page of the Moderate Party of Rhode Island or RSVP here
Courtesy of North Kingstown Patch
By Matt Sheley | Staff Writer, April 6, 2018
NEWPORT, R.I. — Aquidneck Island is an expensive place to live — on that most people can agree. But what to do about it?
Members of the local legislative delegation told a crowd of about 100 people Thursday morning at the local Community College of Rhode Island campus they’re more than aware of the reality — and more needs to be done to help make Newport County affordable.
They agreed it’s not an easy issue to tackle, especially since the area is such a desirable place to live, and finding solutions will require creativity.
The discussion came up during the third annual Newport County Legislative Forum, sponsored by the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission in partnership with The Newport Daily News and CCRI.
“It’s such an important discussion,” said Sen. Dawn Euer, D-Newport. “There’s nothing more fundamental to a family than being able to go home and have a roof over your head at night.”
“One of the things that I’ve been thinking about is I would love to see a partnership between members of the assembly delegation and the City Council leadership in Newport,” said Rep. Lauren Carson, D-Newport. “I think that solutions are state-based and municipally based and I would encourage a task force or a conversation around a real diagnosis of what the problems are and some real brainstorming about how the state and municipalities can work better.”
According to statistics in the 2017 Housing Fact Book put out by HousingWorksRI, homebuyers need to make at least $113,419 annually to buy a median-priced home in Newport. The figures were $135,731 in Jamestown, $95,815 in Middletown, $95,670 in Portsmouth and $70,231 in Tiverton.
To “affordably” rent a two-bedroom apartment in Newport, people need to bring in $60,320, compared to $66,040 in Jamestown, $56,280 in Middletown, $68,560 in Portsmouth and $57,280 in Tiverton.
The report shows that a big part of the problem is that except for Newport, none of the communities in Newport County meet the 10 percent goal for low- or moderate-income housing. HousingWorksRI statistics show that 15.3 percent of housing in Newport meets that criterion, but only 4.4 percent in Jamestown, 5.4 percent in Middletown, 2.8 percent in Portsmouth and 5.1 percent in Tiverton.
Rep. Kenneth Mendonca, R-Portsmouth, agreed something has to be done or Newport County will continue to lose population. Among the ideas he suggested was getting creative with zoning and loosening density rules for suitable properties. He also suggested the town of Portsmouth look into the former Navy tank farm properties along Defense Highway for affordable housing.
“We live in an area that’s highly desirable, so you have a lot of short-term rentals, which drives up the costs and the price of homes, which makes it very difficult,” Mendonca said. “We know we’re an aging population, that it’s important that we retain our youth or that we attract our youth into our communities. As the prices drive up, it makes it harder for them to have a starter home here on the island.”
Legislators participating in the forum were Sen. Louis DiPalma, D-Middletown; Rep. James Seveney, D-Portsmouth; Euer; Carson; Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown; and Mendonca.
Moderator Neil Steinberg of the Rhode Island Foundation said schedule conflicts prevented Reps. Marvin Abney, D-Newport; Dennis Canario, D-Portsmouth; Susan Donovan, D-Bristol; and Jay Edwards, D-Tiverton; and Sen. Walter Felag, D-Warren, from attending.
The group dug into several weighty issues, including ways to improve mass transportation and support for Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposal to spend $250 million in bond money to improve school facilities.
During a question-and-answer session, the panel was asked questions about proposal to ban semiautomatic rifles, the opioid crisis, the Base Realignment and Closure Process for Naval Station Newport and other topics.
Ruggiero said she supports Raimondo’s school bond proposal. She said anyone who’s been through the schools knows most of them need more work than the host communities can afford.
“We have not passed, in the state of Rhode Island, a school construction bond in almost 30 years,” Ruggiero said. “Think about that. That’s like two generations of kids going through these schools and I say that because if you look at Massachusetts, they have passed seven school construction bonds in the past 10 years.”
DiPalma said he too supports the bond, but tweaks are needed. He said the way the reimbursement formula is done now, it hurts fiscally responsible communities like Middletown that are already working to fix their schools.
“I do support the bond. We need it …,” DiPalma said. “But before I can support it 100 percent, the amendment needs to be there so that the communities I represent can benefit like the rest of the communities across the state. We don’t want to penalize anybody.”
For Seveney, streamlining the work-certification process for military spouses is an often-overlooked item the state should make more of a priority.
In his time in the General Assembly, Seveney said, he’s heard from a number of constituents who’ve been unable to get back to work because they don’t have the proper certification in Rhode Island, even though they have active certifications in other states. A former Navy officer, Seveney said his own wife — a teacher — dealt with such a situation.
“She has a master’s degree in early childhood education from Virginia and it took her 18 months (after moving to Rhode Island) before she was qualified for a full-time teaching job in the state of Rhode Island,” Seveney said.
Courtesy of The Newport Daily News
By MELANIE PINCUS
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Sunday, February 25, 2018
The summit, which was hosted by the advocacy and outreach group Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere and sponsored by the University’s urban studies department, included keynote speakers, breakout sessions and workshops led primarily by representatives from student groups and community organizations.
Among the workshop leaders were individuals who have experienced homelessness, including Jesse Hardy, founder of Jesse’s Homeless Outreach Project in New Haven, Connecticut.
“I want people to see that love … that we should have for each other, whether you’re homeless or not,” Hardy told The Herald. “You don’t always have to have money to help each other, you can just talk to people.” It is important for students to hear from speakers like Hardy to remember the importance of working with, and not for, people experiencing homelessness, Gabriel Zimmerman ’18, executive director of HOPE and Nathaniel Pettit ’20, HOPE’s education chair, said.
“I think we’re trying to be very mindful from the get-go of the reality of our positionality as students at elite schools and at a general place of relative comfort to a lot of people we’re trying to serve,” Pettit said.
At the same time, Zimmerman said students should know that they can make a difference.“We really want to encourage people to go down and work with community organizations and put their money where their mouth is when talking about social justice,” Zimmerman said.
Friday night’s keynote featured Dr. Sam Tsemberis, who developed the “Housing First” model for addressing chronic homelessness. With Tsemberis’s method, individuals experiencing homelessness receive permanent housing and then address other issues, such as addiction and mental health.
In more traditional interventions, “the attention was on the treatment of the condition, rather than including the person in a conversation about … the solution to what was ailing them,” Tsemberis said in his address.
The Housing First model has helped to virtually eliminate homelessness in Finland and has dramatically reduced homelessness among veterans in the United States, Tsemberis said.
“If only there was a political will to get that enacted nation-wide in different state and local policies,” Zimmerman said. “Some people think ‘oh, homelessness is intractable, it’s always been an issue in America,’ (but) there’s a way to solve this.”
Dr. James O’Connell, who helped found the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program in 1985, delivered a keynote address Saturday on street outreach and health care for individuals experiencing homelessness. O’Connell served as a “prime example” for those who are interested in learning how medicine can have social value, Pettit said, adding that “medicine is inherently based in social justice.”
“It’s just inspiring to see the way groups here just have really strong footholds in their communities,” said Emmett Werbel, a student at Columbia who attended the conference with Project for the Homeless at Columbia. “They’ve found a way to channel the resources of their universities into … effective, appropriate solutions, and I think that’s just given everybody from my club a lot of ideas.”
Developing connections with other student groups engaged in anti-poverty work is valuable, students who attended the conference said.“I think the goal was always to bring people together,” Zimmerman said. “We need to have collaboration to really innovate and make a difference on behalf of people experiencing homelessness.”
Members of the HOPE leadership team said they would like the summit to grow and potentially be hosted at a different university every year.
“I would love if we could transition from school to school … just because then you get the different perspectives, the different locations, the different community partners,” said HOPE’s Communications Director Katherine Garry ’20. “It’s definitely, I’m hoping, going to grow.”
In the meantime, members of the student organizations are planning to stay in touch through a Facebook group created during the summit. This network will help HOPE fine-tune its outreach and advocacy work, Garry added.
“I hope it can just remind us (of) the importance of this work and really just get us doing it on a broader scale,” she said.
The summit occurred during the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign, which began in 1967 and concluded in June 1968, two months after King’s assassination, according to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute. Zimmerman said this concurrence has symbolic significance.
“The idea of (King’s) campaign was (to) bring together a multiracial, multiethnic, multi-income coalition to fundamentally change — he called it the revolution of values— the way we look at poverty in the United States,” Zimmerman said. “All the people we work with are already involved in trying to make that change happen, and hopefully … we can actually achieve the goal of continuing our communal efforts to follow the vision that King set 50 years ago.”
Courtesy of The Brown Daily Herald
Event Date: September 19, 2017 - 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Join Rhode Island Housing, HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University and LeadingAge RI for a
Senior Health + Housing Forum
Featuring Keynote Speaker Linda Couch,
LeadingAge VP of Housing Policy
SAVE THE DATE:
September 19, 2017 1:00 - 4:00 PM
Networking reception to follow
Roger Williams University - Providence Campus
Over the next ten years, Rhode Island's population of seniors is projected to grow significantly. Many will need assistance with housing, services and healthcare to live independently.
Are you a healthcare or services provider working with seniors facing housing-related challenges? Or a housing owner/developer who serves seniors struggling to live independently? Join us to meet potential collaborators and share best practices in meeting the health and housing needs of our seniors.
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