News & Event
by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Monday, September 3rd 2018
The cities of Pawtucket and Providence are receiving federal grants to identify and address lead-based paint hazards in public housing.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said Monday that the Pawtucket Housing Authority will receive $1 million and that the Providence Housing Authority will receive about $975,000 to perform risk assessments and remove or control lead-contaminated dust and soil at public housing units.
The grants come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, has pushed to strengthen HUD regulations about lead-based paint hazards.
He said every child deserves a safe and healthy home and that lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy.
State health officials estimate that about 80 percent of Rhode Island homes were built before 1978 and likely contain lead-based paint.
Courtesy of Turn to 10
The Senate worked with dozens of individuals and organizations to develop the legislation, including those participating in the roundtable and others who were in the audience.
The package encourages residential development by updating the building inspection process, much of which hasn’t been changed since the 1970s and 1980s. It proposes new housing options so individuals and families struggling to find suitable housing have new options, including accessory dwellings.
The legislation also proposes expanding apprenticeship opportunities in school construction contracts, and it encourages K-12 school systems to teach children of all ages that apprenticeships are among the options they can pursue as they consider careers.
It also reflects a commitment to continue researching issues that require further study, including housing, additional apprenticeship options, the seafood industry, and health care provider reimbursement rates.
“We look forward to working collaboratively with the folks in this room – with business, with labor, with cities and towns, and with the public – to build a more vibrant Rhode Island,” said President Ruggerio.
The legislative initiatives are outlined on the following pages.
# # #
SENATE POLICY OFFICE
Building a More Vibrant Rhode Island
Courtesy of the State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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.
April 06, 2018
The solution is to site projects in places that make sense environmentally and societally. The current policy, though, is nothing more than a collective shrug and the repeated claim that it’s cheaper to cut down trees than redevelop disturbed areas.
PROVIDENCE — Both climate solutions are identified as “green” — in fact, one literally is — but the Mother Nature-created one is being destroyed to make room for the manmade one.
Some proponents of the latter say chunks of the former need to be sacrificed if society is to kick its dirty fossil-fuel habitat. Their well-intentioned argument goes something like this: we can’t say no to everything and we need renewable energy.
While renewable energy is a must, it shouldn’t be given carte blanche to be sited anywhere and everywhere. If that’s the development practice Rhode Island embraces, environmental degradation will continue. Public health will suffer.
Rhode Island could lead the way, and the best place to start would be to stop bulldozing trees, covering open space and marginalizing farmland in the name of green energy. This effort would require some universal sacrifice, diversified leadership, a touch of political will, National Grid mapping Rhode Island’s grid capacity, accounting that includes environmental and public-health costs, plenty of carrots, and at least one stick (disincentivize).
“Grow Smart strongly endorses the governor’s renewable-energy goals (1,000 megawatts by 2020), but how we achieve that goal is as important as how that goal is reached,” said Scott Millar, community technical assistance manager for Grow Smart Rhode Island. “We need to concentrate as much growth as possible in the urban developed core.”
Two workshops at Grow Smart Rhode Island’s recent all-day Power of Place Summit held at the Rhode Island Convention Center explored the intersection of green energy and green space.
A morning workshop titled “Rhode Island Forests: Our Invisible Green Giant” discussed the condition of the state’s forests, their economic contributions and how the use of smart-growth techniques can accommodate economic opportunity, such as renewable-energy development, while preserving forestland.
An afternoon workshop titled “A Smart Growth Approach to Renewable Energy Siting” discussed the strategies needed to increase incentives for siting solar and wind projects in and on already-developed areas.
Rhode Island has ambitious goals for renewable-energy generation, and expanding solar and wind power is critical to meeting these goals and reducing, and eventually eliminating, greenhouse-gas emissions produced by the burning of fossil fuels. Energy efficiency also plays a major role in reducing Rhode Island’s reliance on out-of-state fossil fuels, most notably natural gas.
Currently, the state’s rural communities — Coventry, Foster, Exeter, Richmond and Hopkinton, to name a few — are being asked, some would argue made, to sacrifice forests and farmland for renewable-energy sprawl. It’s a counterproductive situation that is frustrating conservationists, municipal planners, developers and landowners.
The siting of solar and wind projects is a complex issue wrapped in property rights, tax revenues, the carrying capacity of power-grid infrastructure, smart grids, microgrids, energy storage, incentives, and environmental protections. Municipal ordinances and comprehensive plans aren’t designed to address Rhode Island’s land rush that is trampling woodlands and taking farmland out of production.
Exeter’s renewable-energy ordinance, for example, was adopted in late 2015, after applications were filed for two small solar projects. Since then, a Rhode Island developer has proposed erecting four solar-energy systems totaling nearly 37 megawatts of energy.
Foster’s new town planner is dealing with four recently built solar projects, one that is under construction, one that is headed to the Planning Board and two more that are in the preliminary stages. Forty acres in the Scituate Reservoir watershed have already been clear-cut to accommodate the first five renewable-energy projects, according to Jennifer Siciliano.
A proposed 32.7-megawatt solar project on 567 mostly wooded acres along Shermantown and Tower Hill roads in North Kingstown has created much resident angst. To address the town’s outpouring of concern, the developer recently cut the project’s megawatt proposal by more than half.
In Cranston, 60 acres of forestland was clear-cut and ledge was blasted to make room for 60,000 solar panels.
Exeter’s planner, Ashley Sweet, told ecoRI News last month that the town needs to “beef up” its ordinance to deal with utility-scale energy projects.
“The current ordinance doesn’t adequately protect the town or meet the comprehensive plan,” she said. “We have a private solar developer who has targeted Exeter and is trying to annihilate zoning ordinances for utility development.”
Few oppose Rhode Island’s need for more wind and solar energy, but where many of these projects are being built or proposed is a growing problem. During the past few years Rhode Island has experienced a land grab to build renewable energy in areas with capacity, most of it solar and much of it on farmland and forestland. In fact, the state’s energy programs and incentives inadvertently push such development to green space. Efforts to change this paradigm are moving slowly.
To build renewable-energy projects on landfills — Rhode Island has about 100, according to Millar — brownfields, rooftops, parking lots and other developed areas requires carrots, such as incentives, renewable-energy certificates (commonly called RECs), tax breaks, favorable lease rates, and grants.
Other developed and disturbed areas, such as gravel banks, median strips, land along highways and vacant big-box stores and their vast parking lots, don’t require as many, if any, carrots to reappropriate. Millar noted that underutilized fields that aren’t covering prime farmland soil would also make sense for renewable-energy development.
Rhode Island has an ample inventory of these developed and underused areas, but they are largely ignored when it comes to erecting wind and solar infrastructure. The Ocean States needs to reverse this shortsighted trend, and quickly.
New England neighbors Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont have already forged a system that incentivizes the development of renewable energy in preferred locations.
Vermont, for instance, has discouraged the development of renewables in or on prime agricultural soil and wildlife habitat, on forestland, or in wetlands.
Millar noted that Vermont has plenty of land in its preferred locations to host the infrastructure needed to meet its renewable-energy targets. He also mentioned that New Jersey has mapped its “preferred” and “not preferred” locations for solar siting. New Jersey identified that 29 percent of its land is preferred for siting solar, dominated by existing residential and commercial areas. It also determined that 63 percent of its land is not preferred — i.e., forests, wetlands and agriculture.
New Jersey’s solar-siting program was built on consensus that utility-scale solar projects shouldn’t be permitted on open space; working farms should be allowed to install a small amount of solar to meet their energy needs; and where solar and wind is put matters more than generating green power.
New Jersey is currently ranked fifth in the United States with regards to total installed solar capacity.
Meg Kerr, senior director of policy for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, moderated the March 29 “A Smart Growth Approach to Renewable Energy Siting” discussion. She noted that Rhode Island needs to do a better job siting renewable-energy projects in the urban-built environment using smart-growth principles.
“We don’t have localized incentives right now to develop on developed lands,” Kerr said. “Communities feel unprepared, but we need to power society’s many energy needs without using fossil fuels.”
The panel discussion Kerr led featured Erika Niedowski, policy advocate for the Acadia Center; Paul Raducha, senior developer for Kearsarge Energy LP; and Grow Smart’s Millar.
“Keep in mind we have to deal with climate change. There’s an urgency to take climate action,” Niedowski said. “We can’t put renewable-energy development on hold as we figure this out. When it comes siting, we’re dealing with two green goals: renewable energy and environmental protections.”
She rejected the suggestion that some planners, such as Sweet, have made to place a moratorium on renewable-energy projects until municipalities and the state adopt updated ordinances and guidelines.
“We need to continue to green our energy supply,” Niedowski said. “So how do we accelerate the rate of renewables development while protecting natural resources?”
Rhode Island currently has 244 megawatts of renewable energy, in the form of onshore wind (104 megawatts), solar (64), landfill gas/anaerobic digestion (35), offshore wind (30) and hydropower (11).
Millar noted that 200 of those 244 megawatts of renewable energy were developed outside the state’s urban service boundary. Many of those 200 megawatts, especially the solar-produced ones, were sited on what was once woodland and farmland.
“We’re losing large forested areas to more fragmentation,” he said. “It’s critical that we protect this resource. Forests mitigate the impacts of climate change, efficiently storing and capturing carbon through photosynthesis.”
Rhode Island’s forestland, however, is more than just a carbon sink. The state’s 400,000 acres of forest, about 70 percent of which is privately owned, protect drinking-water supplies, reduce pollution, protect against flooding, moderate air temperatures, and provide wildlife habitat.
The late Alfred L. Hawkes, executive director of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island for 35 years, called the Ocean State’s forestland the state’s most valuable resource.
Forest products also contribute an estimated $710 million annually to the Rhode Island economy and support some 3,300 jobs.
Despite these many benefits, Christopher Modisette, state resource conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said, “Our forests are taken for granted and continue to disappear. As pressures continue to mount, how do we protect this incredible resource?”
Modisette moderated the “Rhode Island Forests: Our Invisible Green Giant” panel discussion that featured Bill Buffum, a research associate in the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Natural Resources Science, Tee Jay Boudreau, deputy chief for the Rhode Island Department of Management’s Division of Forest Environment, and Christopher Riely, coordinator of the Rhode Island Woodland Partnership.
“Forests and woodlands are a big part of the climate solution,” Riely said. “They’re carbon-eating machines.”
The state’s Office of Energy Resources (OER) is studying the controversial siting issue. An OER stakeholders group has been meeting monthly since last summer.
The Rhode Island Energy Resources Act, which addresses renewable-energy siting, has broad support, including from OER, DEM, the Rhode Island Farm Bureau, the Northeast Clean Energy Council and the Conservation Law Foundation.
Courtesy of ecoRI News
Updated: Sep 3, 2018 at 2:52 PM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Housing authorities in the capital city and Pawtucket will receive nearly $2 million in federal grants to assess and fix lead-paint hazards in older units, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced on Monday. Under the grants, the Pawtucket Housing Authority will receive $1 million, and the Providence Housing Authority $974,400.
Despite progress in the years since lead has been removed from new paint production, children living in older housing with old paint in the two cities remain at elevated risk for poisoning from the metal, which can cause long-term and irreversible cognitive deficits.
“Every child deserves a safe and healthy home,” Reed said in a statement. “Eliminating lead-based paint hazards from public housing is both a moral and economic imperative, and Congress must do its part to protect at-risk children and families. Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy, and these grants will help prevent kids from being exposed to harmful lead-based paint hazards in their homes.”
A media release from the senator’s office put the risks in context: “Lead poisoning disproportionately affects the lives of children from economically-disadvantaged backgrounds and can have lifelong, irreversible consequences, including severely inhibiting healthy development and compromising learning ability.”
The senator’s office cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, which show that “at least 4 million U.S. households are being exposed to high levels of lead.”
Exposure at a young age, when the brain is still developing, Reed’s office noted, “poses not only serious immediate health consequences, but may also permanently jeopardize potential for upward social mobility throughout adulthood. Children who are exposed to lead hazards are seven times more likely to drop out of school and six times more likely to end up in the juvenile justice system.”
Said Reed: “This isn’t a problem that will fix itself. We must be proactive and accelerate efforts to identify and clean up lead-based paint hazards, reduce exposure, and strengthen our communities. There are simple steps we can take now to prevent permanent damage that could last a lifetime, but we have to provide the resources and collective commitment to get the job done.”
The two grants, administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Public Housing Lead-Based Paint Capital Fund Program, may be used “to perform risk assessments and remove or control lead-contaminated dust and soil in and around public housing units,” according to the media release.
Providence, RI; On Monday, October 1, 2018 the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless hosts their 30th Anniversary Awards Breakfast. The breakfast is being held at the Crowne Plaza, in Warwick, RI from 8:30 – 11:00am. Recognizing the Coalition’s 30 years of working to ameliorate homelessness in Rhode Island the theme of this years’ Awards Program is “Together We Can Change the World.”
The Coalition is thrilled to welcome keynote speaker Jeff Olivet. Jeff has worked in homelessness, behavioral, and public health for more than two decades. As a teacher, writer, and policy leader, he shapes new directions for organizations across the United States. He has worked as a street outreach worker, case manager, coalition builder, activist, and trainer, as well as an inspirational writer and speaker. From 2010 to 2018, he was CEO of the Boston-based Center for Social Innovation, a dynamic social policy company. Jeff is Principal Investigator on multiple research studies funded by National Institutes of Health, and he conceived of and leads the SPARC Initiative (Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities), a multi-city effort to address racial inequity in homelessness. His blogs and his Changing the Conversation podcast are followed widely, providing thought leadership for the field. Jeff divides his time between Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.
As part of the Coalition’s 30th anniversary celebration they will be honoring a number of organizers, educators and community leaders recognizing their work, dedication and commitment to helping end homelessness in Rhode Island. More information about the award winners will be released soon.
The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless is organized to promote and preserve the dignity and quality of life for men, women, and children by pursuing comprehensive and cooperative solutions to the problems of housing and homelessness. They accomplish this through advocacy, education, collaboration, technical assistance, and selected direct services to homeless individuals and families.
The Coalition envisions a State of Rhode Island that refuses to let any man, woman, or child be homeless. For more information about the Coalition follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rihomeless
Courtesy of Providence American
Posted Apr 17, 2018 at 12:01 AM
Updated Apr 17, 2018 at 12:30 AM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- In 2016, there were 1,580 evictions in Providence, which breaks down to an average of 4.3 evictions every single day of the year. For the entire state of Rhode Island, there were 5,069 evictions in 2016, or nearly 14 a day.
In 2009, when there were 2,840 foreclosure deeds filed in Rhode Island, it was called a foreclosure crisis.
Providence’s 2016 eviction rate, 3.82 percent, was nearly triple that of Boston in that same year (1.3 percent), according to new data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. This group is led by sociologist Matthew Desmond, whose 2016 book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 2017.
Desmond, who hopes the site will yield evidence on which laws and public policies work best to reduce evictions, says that eviction is not a symptom, but a cause, of poverty. His book chronicled how evictions prompted a downward spiral for low-income families, often leading to unemployment, educational disruption for children, and loss of personal possessions and even access to public benefits.
The Eviction Lab has created the first national database on eviction, and has collected more than 80 million eviction records from across the country. Though not every area is included yet, the evictionlab.org website will be expanding to include more data, according to Desmond. The data includes only court-ordered evictions, and does not include the many evictions that occur outside the legal system. The site does not have eviction information from every county or every state (data for South Dakota, North Dakota and Arkansas was not available.)
At a forum Thursday at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., Desmond said many tenants are evicted for outstanding rent payments of less than $500 or $1,000. Diana Elliott, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute, said that cities often spend far more to cope with the aftermath of eviction.
In a list of 100 large cities in the United States with the highest eviction rates, Providence, at number 75, was one of the few cities from the Northeast. Four cities in Connecticut were also included.
In addition to having an eviction rate nearly triple that of Boston’s in 2016, Providence’s rate was higher than other cities known for their high housing costs, including New York City (1.61 percent) and San Francisco (0.25 percent), according to the Eviction Lab data. On the large-city eviction-rate list, Boston came in at 178, New York City at 159 and San Francisco ranked at 243.
“The numbers are shocking,” said Brenda Clement, executive director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University. Rhode Island had the highest eviction rate in New England in 2016, and perhaps even more troubling, Rhode Island’s eviction numbers have been trending upward.
Why is Providence’s rate so much higher than Boston’s and New York’s when Desmond says a lack of affordable housing is a problem across the country?
According to Clement, less access to free legal assistance for Rhode Island tenants, and less state support for housing in general, are reasons Providence fares worse than Boston in the rankings.
In fiscal 2016, Massachusetts spent about 10 times more per capita on housing than Rhode Island, according to HousingWorks RI’s 2017 Housing Fact Book.
Clement added that New York City recently implemented free legal representation for tenants facing eviction, and while Massachusetts doesn’t offer free legal help to all such tenants, they have more resources between Legal Aid, the Massachusetts Law Reform Project, and clinics at various law schools.
Clement said students at the Roger Williams University School of Law are helping, through the Rhode Island Tenant Stabilization Project, which assists low-income tenants facing eviction. The RWU Law’s Pro Bono Collaborative works with HousingWorks RI, the Center for Justice, and the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School to help as many tenants as possible. RWU has Rhode Island’s only law school.
In Providence District Court’s small-claims civil courtroom 3E on Friday, it was a typical morning, according to Murray Gereboff, an attorney who represents landlords. A number of tenants signed stipulation agreements, known as “stips” by courtroom regulars. Some of the agreements required them to come up with the back rent, often by making extra payments over the course of a few months. In other cases, tenants agreed to move out by the end of the month.
The amount of back rent owed ranged from $193 to more than $5,000, but many seemed to be in the $1,000 to $1,500 range.
Gereboff spent more time in the hallway outside the courtroom, negotiating “stips,” than he did before Judge Joseph Houlihan.
Gereboff and his law partner, Michael Crane, who was also working in courtroom 3E Friday morning, said that every eviction case has its own unique story, and many landlords try to work things out with tenants when they fall behind on the rent. Gereboff said some tenants never pay rent and take advantage of the legal system, while other problem tenants pose dangers to their neighbors. Crane and Gereboff said other tenants face a variety of problems, including substance abuse and mental health issues, but they acknowledge that many people just struggle to pay too much rent with not enough income.
“It’s a broken system,” Gereboff said.
Courtesy of Newport Daily News
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