News & Event
The 2018 RI Kids Count Factbook, released on Monday, is fascinating. It provides a window into the lives of Rhode Island’s children, and it also offers some peripheral data that contextualizes how the state’s youngest residents are raised.
A portion of the Factbook involves housing security and the economic well-being of the family unit. According to the Factbook, in 2017, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island was $1,385 — a $100 increase over the previous year. In order to live without a cost burden — when more than 30 percent of a family’s income is spent on housing — a worker must earn $26.63 an hour, at forty hours a week, to be able to afford that monthly rent. Last year’s minimum wage in Rhode Island was $9.60.
Some towns, to be sure, are more affordable than others. Foster, Glocester, Exeter, Richmond, West Greenwich and — believe it or not — Little Compton all average $944 per month in rent for a two-bedroom apartment. Topping the list in monthly rent is Jamestown at $1,932 per month for a two-bedroom apartment — a cost surely driven by seasonal rental rates. Providence comes in at $1,357 per month.
Perhaps the starkest data show how unattainable certain communities are to low-income families. If a poverty-level family (bringing in $20,420 per year) wants to live in Barrington for the schools, for example, they would have to fork over a whopping 92 percent of their income to rent and 100 percent of their income to a mortgage.
The whole Factbook, with stats on the health, safety, education and community of Rhode Island children, is worth a read. Click here for more.
Courtesy of Rhode Island Monthly
“We need our state elected officials to demonstrate bold leadership by investing more state resources in affordable housing, not less, to ensure that all Rhode Islanders have a safe, decent place they can afford to call home,” said Melina Lodge, executive director of the Housing Network of RI. The Housing Network is the professional association of the state’s non-profit housing developers.
Courtesy of Providence Journal
Posted on March 28, 2019, at 10:59 a.m. ET
It’s hard to remember the last time affordable rents received consistent national attention, but the tide is finally turning. In recent months, prominent presidential contenders — Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren — have proposed ambitious solutions, and are speaking substantively about the issue on the campaign trail. They shouldn’t be alone in this: According to the numbers, all 2020 presidential hopefuls would be wise to make it a top-tier priority.
The vast majority of the public — a full 85% — believe that ensuring everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a “top national priority,” according to a recent national poll commissioned by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. This view is strong across the political spectrum — from 95% of Democrats to 87% of independents and 73% of Republicans. Eight in ten people also say that both the President and Congress should “take major action” to make housing more affordable for low-income households.
Those aren’t the only eye-opening figures. The poll showed 60% say housing affordability is a serious problem where they live, which is up an astounding 21 points since 2016 — and that includes majorities in cities, suburbs, and rural areas. And 61% of people reported having to make at least one sacrifice in the past three years because they were struggling with housing costs, such as cutting back on learning activities for their child, nutritious food, or health care.
Those people aren’t imagining things: The affordability crisis has indeed reached historic heights, and the data is shocking. Since 1960, renters’ incomes have increased by only 5% while rents have risen 61%. Out of over 3,000 counties in the nation, there are only 22 where a full-time worker earning minimum wage can afford a modest one-bedroom rental, and there are no counties where they can afford a modest two-bedroom. Nationally, there are only 37 available and affordable homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. When it comes to being able to pay your rent in America, hard work simply isn’t enough anymore.
People are feeling the squeeze, and they are expecting solutions. Eighty-two percent of the public thinks it’s important for elected leaders to address housing affordability, and 83% agree that elected officials aren’t paying enough attention to the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing. And 76% said they are more likely to vote for candidates who have detailed plans for making housing more affordable.
Strong majorities, on a bipartisan basis, support concrete policy solutions, such as expanding funding for rental assistance, ensuring assisted families with young children can live in safe neighborhoods with good schools and job prospects, giving renters a tax break like homeowners currently get, expanding investments in housing development programs, and providing emergency crisis assistance to the lowest income households to help cover rent.
Opportunity Starts at Home has published a playbook for policymakers who want to work on this. The campaign has called for a major expansion of rental assistance through vouchers or a tax credit and substantial investments in the national Housing Trust Fund to increase the supply of housing affordable to the lowest-income people. It has also proposed creating a National Housing Stabilization Fund that would provide emergency financial assistance to ensure housing stability and prevent homelessness for poor households experiencing an unexpected economic hardship, such as a job loss or medical issues.
All 2020 presidential hopefuls should prioritize housing affordability and, if they have not done so already, develop a serious plan to solve the problem. The public, without question, is giving them an unprecedented mandate for action. And in addition to being good politics, it’s also smart policy. When people have stable affordable homes, they’re healthier; they’re more likely to escape poverty and climb the income ladder; they can more readily access areas with greater career opportunities, which, in turn, helps drive economic growth; they’re less hungry; and their kids perform better in school.
At a time when Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on much of anything, the issue of housing affordability can be a much-needed unifier. People from all walks of life are increasingly concerned about the lack of housing they can afford; they know it most negatively impacts low-income people; they see how it spills over into other areas of life; and they are looking for an energetic response from the federal government.
Mike Koprowski is the national director of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, chaired by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Courtesy of BuzzFeed News
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
GoLocalProv News Team
Providence is ranked as one of the worst cities in the country for first-time home buyers.
According to a recent study completed by WalletHub, Providence is ranked as the 8th worst midsize city for first time home buyers.
Overall, Providence is ranked 267th out of 300 ranked cities.
As GoLocal reported Saturday, on the East Side of Providence, in particular, home values are skyrocketing, with houses that only a few years ago were worth $400,000 or $500,000 are now selling for a million dollars or more.
Houses go on the market and within a week there are more than a dozen offers meeting or exceeding the asking price — often by cash buyers.
Sally Lapides, President and CEO of Residential Properties, Ltd., says the combination of older people looking to downsize and Providence’s appeal as a city are fueling the boom. Buyers are more and more New York transplants or Boston commuters.
The issue is also helping to drive rents higher and higher.
“Buying a home for the first time is an exciting and important milestone for many Americans. Their purchases make up a sizable chunk of the market, too. In 2017, 38% of all U.S. single-family home purchases were made by first-time buyers,” said WalletHub.
Providence is ranked directly behind Corpus Christi, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana, who rank 265th and 266th respectively.
Providence ranks ahead of Santa Ana, California and Houston, Texas, who rank 268th and 269th respectively.
Broken Arrow, Oklahoma is ranked as the best city for first time home buyers.
Berkeley, California is ranked as the worst city.
To determine the most favorable housing markets for first-time home buyers, WalletHub compared a sample of 300 U.S. cities (varying in size) across three key dimensions: 1) Affordability, 2) Real-Estate Market and 3) Quality of Life.
They evaluated those dimensions using 27 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for first-time home buyers.
Finally, they determined each city’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank the sample. Each city was categorized according to the following population-size guidelines:
Large cities: More than 300,000 people
Midsize cities: 150,000 to 300,000 people
Small cities: Fewer than 150,000 people
Affordability – Total Points: 33.33
Real-Estate Market – Total Points: 33.33
Quality of Life – Total Points: 33.33
Courtesy of GoLocal Prov
It’s generally understood that rising housing costs, and a shortage of new units, have contributed to an affordable housing crisis in the United States. New research by economists at Apartment List have found that inequality has also been rising, with those struggling to afford rent tending to pay a much greater share of their income than wealthier Americans.
Overall, the bottom 10 percent of the income distribution has seen the steepest rise in costs since 1980, while the top 25 percent of earners have actually see a decline in housing costs. Renters, at all income levels, are spending a great share of their income on rent than they did in 1980, while homeowners are paying a smaller fraction of their monthly paycheck for housing.
This phenomenon isn’t limited to pricy big cities or part of coastal California. Researcher Igor Popov found that housing for the bottom half of income distribution grew more than those on the top half in every single one of the top 100 metro areas across the U.S. In 45 of the 50 largest U.S. cities, income inequality grew.
One of the main drivers for this increasing disparity is the similarity in rent and housing costs along large stretches of the income divide. Put another way, lower- and middle-income Americans tend to have similar housing costs, despite varying paychecks, exacerbating the financial stress on low-income Americans and highlighting the human cost of our affordable housing shortage.
Apartment List researchers found that those in the lowest quartile of income make 27 percent of the median household, yet they still need to pay 79 percent of what the median household pays in rent. Despite making a fraction of the income, they still have a somewhat similar housing burden.
Two large trends are at play. In the rental market, an influx of high-end rental properties, feeding an increased population of high-end renters, has contributed to higher costs, especially in supply-constrained cities. The median renter pays 23 percent more than he or she did in 1980. At the same time, for homeowners, lower mortgage rates and the ability to refinance have countered the rise in prices, leading to a relative decrease in their monthly mortgage payment.
Again, this income is widespread. Median homeowner income is higher than that of the median renter in every one of the top 100 U.S. metros, and double that of renters in 55 markets. The advantage gained by homeowners, from mortgage-interest tax deductions to refinancing, is exacerbating the housing divide.
Housing affordability has emerged as a potent campaign issue among contenders for the Democratic nomination as part of a wider discussion about equity in the economy. According to Popov, author of the study, as rising housing costs take up more of the monthly income of low income Americans, they have less capital to invest, save or take risks while those higher up the income ladder, due to lowering housing burdens, become that much more advantaged.
Courtesy of Curbed
Posted Jun 7, 2018 at 8:46 PM
Updated Jun 7, 2018 at 9:22 PM
CHARLESTON, S.C. — Housing Secretary Ben Carson says his latest proposal to raise rents would mean a path toward self-sufficiency for millions of low-income households across the United States by pushing more people to find work. For Ebony Morris and her four small children, it could mean homelessness.
Morris lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where most households receiving federal housing assistance would see rents rise an average 26 percent, according to an analysis done by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for The Associated Press. Her increase would be nearly double that.
Overall, the analysis shows that in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, low-income tenants — many of whom have jobs — would have to pay roughly 20 percent more each year for rent under the plan. That’s about six times greater than the growth in average hourly earnings, putting poor workers at an increased risk of homelessness because wages haven’t kept pace with housing expenses
The center’s analysis says that the amount of annual rent for all 18,700 HUD-assisted households in Rhode Island would change by $24.5 million. On average, households affected by the policy would see their rent change by $1,430, says the report.
The Providence Housing Authority administers more than 2,500 households and a majority of those would see significant increases in their rent payments under the latest proposal, said the authority’s director of strategy and development, Peter Asen.
As of April, the Providence Housing Authority, had 625 households that were making rent payments of less than $150 per month.
Within that group of households, about 250 are not classified as either elderly or disabled, which means their monthly rent payment would jump to $150 under the administration’s proposal, he said.
Meanwhile, households in the elderly or disabled classifications can make rent payments as low as $25 per month right now. Under the administration’s plan, those households, too, would face higher rent payments, he said, adding that the increase would take effect on a much slower timeline but the proposed change could eventually saddle the same households with monthly rent payments of as much as $150.
Raising rent payments doesn’t equate to helping residents earn more monthly income, Asen said.
“Raising someone’s rent without giving other tools isn’t going to help people to become more sufficient,” he said.
Roughly 4 million low-income households receiving HUD assistance would be affected by the proposal. HUD estimates that about 2 million would be affected immediately, while the other 2 million would see rent increases phased in after six years.
The proposal, which needs congressional approval, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to scale back the social safety net, under the belief that being less generous will prompt those receiving federal assistance to enter the workforce. “It’s our attempt to give poor people a way out of poverty,” Carson said in a recent interview with Fox News.
At an event in Detroit on Thursday, Carson said the proposal is a product of budget constraints. He said that the plan could change based on funding for the agency, adding that HUD has already begun working with Congress.
“The reason that we had to even consider rent increases is because we’re working with a specific budget,” Carson said. “And in order not to have to raise rents on the elderly and the disabled or to displace people who are already in programs, that was the only option.”
“The original rent increases were to make sure we didn’t have to raise rents on elderly and disabled people,” Carson said. “Now we have some increased funding, we’re not going to” have to, he said.
The analysis shows families would be disproportionately impacted. Of the 8.3 million people affected, more than 3 million are children.
Morris, the mother from Charleston, South Carolina, a pediatric assistant, said she sometimes works 50 hours a week just to get by. Her four young children would be hit hard if her rent increases, she said.
“Food, electricity bills, school uniforms,” she said. “Internet for homework assignments and report cards. All of their reading modules at school require the internet, without it they’ll be behind their classmates. The kids are in extracurriculars, those would be scrapped. I would struggle just to pay my bills.”
The impact of the plan would be felt everywhere.
Rent for the poorest tenants in Baltimore, where Carson was a neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and where his own story of overcoming poverty inspired generations of children, could go up by 19 percent or $800 a year. In Detroit, where Carson’s mother, a single parent, raised him by working two jobs, rents could increase by $710, or 21 percent. Households in Washington, D.C., one of the richest regions in the country, would see the largest increases: $980 per year on average, a 20 percent hike.
“This proposal to raise rents on low-income people doesn’t magically create well-paying jobs needed to lift people out of poverty,” said Diane Yentel, CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Instead it just makes it harder for struggling families to get ahead by potentially cutting them off from the very stability that makes it possible for them to find and keep jobs.”
While the Department of Housing and Urban Development says elderly or disabled households would be exempt, about 314,000 households could lose their elderly or disabled status and see higher rents, according to the analysis by the policy center, which advocates for the poor.
Carson’s “Make Affordable Housing Work Act,” announced April 25, would allow housing authorities to impose work requirements, would increase the percentage of income that tenants are required to pay from 30 percent to 35 percent, and would raise the minimum rent from $50 to $150. It would eliminate deductions, for medical care and child care, and for each child in a home: Currently, families can deduct $480 per child, significantly lowering rent.
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