News & Event
By: Philip Cozzolino
CHARLESTOWN - Habitat for Humanity has welcomed a new face as its executive director. Colin Penney took over the position on Oct. 30 after a nationwide search. Penney takes over the post from Lou Raymond, who is set to retire later this year after 15 years of service to the Charlestown non-profit organization, a branch of the nationwide non-profit which seeks to provide affordable, quality housing for all. In announcing the appointment, Val Henry, president of the South County Habitat for Humanity Board of Directors, was excited to welcome Habitat’s new leader. “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat,” Henry said. “We look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing in our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.”Henry went on to say the search for a new executive director led South County Habitat on a nationwide exploration of candidates that included over 150 applicants. Of that pool, Penney was the organization’s top choice. Penney comes to South County Habitat with over 15 years of experience in non-profits and affordable housing, and has extensive experience working with Habitat for Humanity various chapters across the country, both as a volunteer and staff member. Most recently, he served as the program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley in the Youngstown area of Ohio. Youngstown, Ohio is currently one of the most affordable places in the country to live – a stark contrast from the pricey real estate market of New England.
“Land [in northern Ohio] has very little value because there’s lots of it available,” Penney said when asked what would be different between the two locations. “Working in a community where oftentimes the land is just as valuable as the materials you’re putting onto it adds an additional challenge to affordability in the area. And as land values continue to increase as more and more people want to move to such a wonderful area, that lack of land and access to land is definitely going to be an ongoing challenge that Habitat will be facing.” Penney became dedicated to combatting homelessness while studying sociology and anthropology at Ohio Wesleyan University, working with the Columbus, Ohio homeless population and studying how city growth and new infrastructure had triggered a system in which low-income individuals were forced from their homes and into the streets. While working as Mahoning Valley Habitat for Humanity’s Program Director, Penney was directly responsible for all of the organizations volunteer recruitment and training and selection of homebuyers. Working directly with those preparing to become homeowners for the first time, Penney assisted with mortgages, loans and payment collection.
As executive director for South County Habitat, Penney will oversee all operations of the non-profit organization.
“A lot of my experience, particularly on the loan and mortgage side, is something we’re really looking to remodel with the new affiliate and take the affiliate in a new direction to try to simplify and bring a lot of that [work] in-house,” he said. “It will be a big benefit.”
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the community,” Penney continued. “Habitat really is a community-based organization, we couldn’t do it without our hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and all the donations that are coming everywhere from the University of Rhode Island to local businesses to community members who want to take that time either swinging a hammer or open their wallets to make a donation. I’m really looking forward to integrating myself into that community, getting to know as many folks as I can and figure out what the biggest need is in affordable housing.”
When asked about those housing needs unique to South County and New England, Penney spoke to the effect short-term rentals have had on the local housing market.
“I think one of the really unique housing issues in South County is the kind of housing carousel,” he said. “Where there’s individuals who might not qualify for traditional home loans through a bank but are very stable financially and just aren’t quite ready for that next step, and as a result, they’re forced to rent. With the nine-month academic rental paired with the three-month summer rental, finding consistent, year-round housing is incredibly difficult and very expensive and adds a lot of stress to individual families.” Being a native New Englander originally from Vermont, Penney is excited to return to the northeast.
“I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” the new executive director said. “I have seen the impact Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.”
Courtesy of The Narragansett Times
By PHILIP COZZOLINO | Jun 2, 2018
NARRAGANSETT — Speaking to a legislative commission earlier this month, Narragansett Town Planner Michael DeLuca described some of the challenges Narragansett and other Washington County communities are facing in attempting to supply more affordable housing.
DeLuca, representing eight towns in Washington County, explained a variety of issues with the current Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, passed in 2004, which mandates that 10 percent of a municipality’s housing stock be designated as affordable housing. Currently, the state only grants that designation to deed-restricted units on government-subsidized properties. In testimony to the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Low to Moderate Income Housing Act, a group chaired by state Rep. Shelby Maldonado (D-Dist. 56, Central Falls) with members including Rep. Blake Filippi (R-Dist. 36, Block Island, Charlestown, Westerly, South Kingstown), DeLuca argued certain properties that are not currently designated as affordable housing under the mandate, such as in-law apartments, apartments rented with Section 8 vouchers and properties with “natural” affordability, should be included.
“The presence of several forms of ‘natural’ affordability is not accounted for anywhere in the current law,” said DeLuca. “As noted by Glocester, the existence of dozens of mobile homes in defined neighborhoods that sell well below the average cost of a subsidized permanent home should be rightly acknowledged and accepted in each town’s qualified inventory.”
“Additionally, virtually every town has small enclaves of lower valued permanent homes making up the neighborhoods that younger and/or lower income families gravitate to for a first home,” DeLuca continued. “Those homes that are not deed-restricted are assessed (and sell) at a value below the Town’s ‘affordable’ base price, could likewise be considered for counting in the Town’s affordable inventory.”
In addition to Narragansett, DeLuca was also representing eight other communities in Washington County including Richmond, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Hopkinton, Charlestown, Westerly and Exeter.
do get a place in Narragansett stay.”
“Then there’s naturally affordable housing - housing that rents in the same range as the state would consider acceptable in a low-moderate income apartment that is deed-restricted,” said DeLuca. “We have non-deed-restricted market housing that’s renting in the same range - we can’t count that.”
Courtesy of The Narragansett Times
October 26, 2017 08:16PM
By Catherine Hewitt, Sun staff writer
CHARLESTOWN — South County Habitat for Humanity announced Friday that Colin Penney has been named executive director, effective Oct. 30. He will take over for Lou Raymond, who will retire later this year after 15 years of service.
Most recently Penney, 34, served as program director for Habitat for Humanity of Mahoning Valley, in Struthers, Ohio, near Youngstown. He has more than 15 years of experience in nonprofits and affordable housing, and has worked with Habitat as a volunteer and staff member.
Penney got his start working on housing issues as a student at Ohio Wesleyan University, where he studied sociology and and anthropology. He worked with the homeless in Columbus, Ohio, and studied how city growth and new infrastructure had forced low-income people out of their homes.
Val Henry, president of the board of directors, said, “We are extremely excited to welcome Colin to South County Habitat and we look forward to his leadership as we work together continuing our mission of providing affordable housing in our community.” Henry said the board conducted a nationwide search that attracted more than 150 applicants.
Penney, a native of Vermont, said he was excited to return to the Northeast. “I have been fortunate to build with so many Habitat affiliates across the country, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to return to New England and serve a community so close to where I was raised,” he said. “I have seen the impact that Habitat has on the lives of its homeowners, the hearts of its volunteers, and the spirit of the local community it serves. I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved as quickly as possible.” For more information go to www.southcountyhabitat.org.
By: KENDRA GRAVELLE | Feb. 16, 2018
SOUTH KINGSTOWN—The town council voted during its meeting Monday to use a portion of the money in its affordable housing trust fund for consulting services to make amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance to better address the need for affordable housing.
The town council voted as part of its capital improvement plan last year to allocate $100,000 to an affordable housing trust fund to be used partially to “permit the engagement of consulting services to conduct a comprehensive analysis of affordable housing needs in the community,” in order to “outline potential policy and programmatic directions to consider that may better align our efforts concerning affordable housing in South Kingstown.”
But after a request for proposals (RFP) sent out last fall yielded no responses, Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing, visited the town to discuss the need for an additional housing supply to meet an imminent demand.
“She basically reiterated something that I think we all already know—that there’s a shortage of housing, in general, in Rhode Island,” planning director Chelsea Siefert said. “Our demand is increasing and we’re not creating enough housing to house the anticipated population over the next 20 to 30 years.”
On top of a general housing shortage in the state, affordable housing is also scarce.
“And the needs of our population throughout the state and in South County are changing,” Siefert continued. “We know that the millennial and elderly populations are growing at alarming rates and they would prefer smaller units—one bedroom or two in town where they have easy access to services.”
But that’s not the type of housing being built in either South Kingstown or the state as a whole.
To address that, the affordable housing collaborative (AHC) and planning board discussed during a joint session last month the possibility of using a portion of the $100,000 set aside for affordable housing toward hiring a consultant service to update the town’s zoning ordinance.
“Both to look at our inclusionary zoning provisions,” Siefert said, “and to see where we could allow more multi-household development in town where it would make sense and what it should look like and act like.”
Siefert said the town would also like to receive architectural and site-design guidelines.
She said that although it’s difficult to determine at this point what that study will cost, it could fall into the $30,000 to $60,000 range—that would depend largely on the depth of the study.
“I really want it to look at every aspect of our code and be as innovative as possible,” Siefert said.
“I think this is a great alternative use for the money that we earmarked for affordable housing,” town council vice president Abel Collins said.
Town councilors Liz Gledhill and Bryant Da Cruz echoed that, with Da Cruz adding that the study is “long overdue.”
And Siefert said she doesn’t anticipate another problem getting RFP responses.
“There are definitely consultants in Rhode Island that do this work,” she said. “I think we will definitely get some responses, I think people will be excited about this work—no one else is really doing this in Rhode Island.”
Siefert added she would like to see the study be village-specific.
“So what does it look like in Wakefield, versus Peace Dale, versus Kingston,” she said. “I think that aspect of it will draw some interest.”
Town councilors approved the resolution unanimously.
Prout students Maurice Lee, Abby Messer, Elsie Bansal, Gracie McCall and Mary Reynolds participated in a Sleep-Out to raise awareness of the Homeless. Students completed intake forms as if they were entering a homeless shelter, heard from a speaker that explained the issue of affordable housing, celebrated Mass, and assembled personal care packages to donate to area shelters prior to sleeping outside for the night.
NLIHC announced the honorees of the 2018 Housing Leadership Awards who will be recognized at NLIHC’s annual Leadership Awards Reception in Washington, DC on March 20, 2018. The honorees are U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME); Lisa Hasegawa, former executive director of the National Coalition for Asian and Pacific American Community Development and NLIHC board member; and Matthew Desmond, PhD, MacArthur Genius Awardee and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.
Senator Collins will receive the 2018 Edward W. Brooke Housing Leadership Award for her years of leadership in Congress, unwavering commitment to addressing the needs of the lowest income people in the U.S., and steadfast support for federal affordable housing and homelessness programs. The Brooke Award is named for the late Senator Brooke (R-MA), who championed low income housing as a U.S. senator and as chairman of the NLIHC Board of Directors after he left the Senate. The Brooke award goes to an exemplary housing leader with a record of fighting for affordable housing on the national level.
Ms. Hasegawa will receive the 2018 Cushing Niles Dolbeare Lifetime Service Award for her years of dedication to affordable housing on behalf of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The Dolbeare Award, named after NLIHC’s late founder who has been referred to as the “godmother” of the affordable housing movement, goes to an individual who has demonstrated an unyielding commitment to achieving safe, decent and affordable homes for low income people over a long period of time.
Dr. Desmond will receive the Sheila Crowley Housing Justice Award in 2018 for his groundbreaking work to elevate the need for affordable housing for the lowest income people in America. The Crowley Award, named for former NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley, goes to an outstanding leader who has elevated the conversation around affordable housing for those most in need.
Please make a Leadership Award Reception sponsorship donation honoring these outstanding leaders and supporting NLIHC’s mission of promoting socially just public policy to ensure the lowest income people in America have decent, affordable homes. To register for the 2018 Leadership Reception at which Ms. Collins, Ms. Hasegawa, and Dr. Desmond will be recognized, contact Christina Sin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsorship donations can be made at: http://bit.ly/2fSOtEH
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