News & Event
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.
Roger Williams University: Social Justice Month Events
Thursday, Oct 19
Sponsored by Housing Works RI and RWU Chief Diversity Officer
This workshop will utilize information collected by Housing Works RI around how housing decisions are made. The workshop will study zip codes to see what that revels to us about housing, race, and socio-economic status.
Click to view the How Housing Works flyer.
Tuesday, Oct 24
Sponsored by FIMRC and Public Health
Film and discussion led by Dr. Kerri Warren and members from the RWU Chapter of FIMRC
UNNATURAL CAUSES is the acclaimed documentary series broadcast by PBS and now used by thousands of organization and clubs to tackle the root causes of our alarming socioeconomic and racial inequities in health.
Click to view the Unnatural Causes flyer.
By Sean Flynn | Staff writer
NEWPORT, R.I. — A developer based in the city is offering to purchase the former Cranston-Calvert School off Broadway and convert it into a 34-unit apartment complex that includes two-bedroom and one-bedroom apartments.
BCM Realty Partners LLC has offered the city the “gross sum” of $1 million for the property, City Manager Joseph J. Nicholson Jr. told the City Council Wednesday night.
“The pricing is in line with a fair market value appraisal that I commissioned to determine the range of value, as is,” he said.
A gross sales price was cited because hazardous waste remediation may be necessary at the school, to remove asbestos for example, and the city may provide a certain credit to the developer for that work, he said.
“We could have a lower net sales price,” he said.
* BACKGROUND: Three historic city buildings now on the selling block
Rehabilitation costs are extremely high, Nicholson said in response to concerns the sales price may be low.
The city is converting the former Sheffield School on Broadway into a business incubator center and the rehab costs there are about $185 a square foot, he said.
“This school conversion provides innovative housing space to attract young technology people to Newport to provide a ready technology-savvy workforce,” Nicholson wrote in a memorandum to the council about the Cranston-Calvert project. “While that may sound anecdotal, the idea is that we believe we can generate an economy for Newport that has at its core need housing availability.”
“We are trying to create a new economy in the north end,” Nicholson told the council members during discussion. “Part of being successful with that is to create affordable housing that will bring young people back to Newport.”
“A lot of young people I work with out at the base (Naval Station Newport), would love to live in a place like this,” said Councilwoman Jamie Bova, who is an engineer.
Census data shows that Newport has an aging population and the number of city residents is declining.
“We are facing significant population decline,” Nicholson said.
Rental costs per unit in the apartment building would be between $1,000 and $1,500 monthly.
Those rent prices are below rental costs for Section 8 housing, Councilwoman Kathryn Leonard said, referring to the federal subsidy program.
“We already have low-income housing,” she said.
There will be no subsidies attached to this project, stressed Council Vice Chairwoman Lynn Underwood Ceglie and Nicholson agreed with her.
The exterior facade would be retained, but the interior would be totally reconstructed, Nicholson said.
Amenities in the apartment building would include “in-unit laundry, on-site parking, gym or media center, shared space on roof if desired by neighbors, virtual doorman, dry cleaning pickup/delivery, common area wi-fi, intercom system, high-end fixtures for lighting on exterior ...,” Nicholson wrote in the memorandum.
The Cranston-Calvert School was vacated when the students were moved to the new Pell Elementary School in 2013. The Cranston School was built in 1876 and the Calvert School in 1887. The were connected after the Hurricane of 1938.
Beginning in 2014, Berkshire Hathaway has been marketing the city’s vacant school properties that include the Coggeshall and Triplett schools, also vacated in 2013.
“There were numerous showings of the properties with no offers to purchase forthcoming,” Nicholson said. “The schools are just sitting there and deteriorating.”
The Newport Project Development Company, which was formed by consultants hired by the city to identify economic development projects, brought this school development project to the city for review, he said.
“There is a companion deal for the Coggeshall School,” Nicholson said. However, that proposal needs to be worked on, he said.
Nicholson said he sent letters to abutters around Cranston-Calvert to notify them of the proposed sale.
“I’ve gotten a good response from neighbors around the school,” he said. “I will go to neighborhood meetings.”
Nicholson said he did not want to just bring a finished purchase-and-sales agreement to the council without discussion.
“I do not have a formal purchase and sale agreement as of yet,” Nicholson wrote in the memorandum. “It is in draft form and not ready for your consideration. I hope to present that shortly.”
“It will enhance the neighborhood and add to our tax base,” he said.
Courtesy of Newport Daily News
Our homes are the solid ground upon which we build our lives – safe, secure, healthy spaces where we can eat, sleep, and spend time with our families; bases from which we travel to work or school; conducive, reliable environments in which we can thrive and grow.
Yet for many Rhode Islanders, this basic resource remains persistently out of reach. It’s a crisis that students at Roger Williams University School of Law are addressing head-on through the Rhode Island Tenant Stabilization Project, aimed at helping low-income tenants who face eviction and possible homelessness.
Law students get involved through RWU Law’s Pro Bono Collaborative, in partnership with the Center for Justice, HousingWorks RI and the Access to Justice Lab at Harvard Law School.
“For us, RWU Law students are a force-multiplier,” says Jennifer L. Wood, executive director of the Center for Justice. “Having them involved is a critical factor for us to be able to reach the volume of cases we need in order to draw meaningful conclusions about the best way to help families sustain their tenancies, stabilize their housing, and stabilize their lives.”
As HousingWorks director Brenda Clement explains, “The path to economic opportunity begins at our front door. Nothing else works right if we don’t have that safe place to get up from and go home to every day. By providing legal and housing assistance, the Tenant Stabilization Project aims to help level the playing field and change the outcome for tenants in a positive way.”
It also places RWU Law students at the center of the action.
“Students get some practical application of the things they’re learning in the classroom – and we get those extra boots on the ground that the law students provide,” Wood says. “They interact with our clients, they write, and they do research – basic factual research, getting out on the street to visit a property and see what the conditions are; interviewing tenants about their circumstances. Both of these are critical aspects to us in developing cases, and also critical learning experiences for the students.”
Indeed, second-year law student Stephanie Diorio says her work with the project has been eye-opening and gratifying.
“It’s a tremendously valuable experience,” she said. “We’re in the field working with actual attorneys and clients; researching, writing, drafting pleadings. And along the way, we have a wonderful opportunity here to help people who would otherwise not have legal representation.”
An Eviction Crisis
While many advocacy groups assist tenants in public housing and Section 8 housing, no parallel resources exist for those in the private rental market. The Tenant Stabilization Project is an effort to change that dynamic.
“Our review of the docket at the 6th District Court [in Providence] revealed that more than 400 evictions are filed every month in that court alone,” Wood notes. “With no other attorneys dedicated to this work, hundreds of tenants face eviction proceedings without an attorney.”
As a result, most never get the chance to raise legitimate counterclaims and affirmative defenses based on substandard health and safety conditions – and landlords wind up with revolving-door tenancies.
What’s needed is someone who can dig down and identify these underlying issues. Evicted tenants “want to talk; they want to tell their stories,” says law student Diorio, who has interviewed many of them at the courthouse following eviction hearings. “Even when they’ve had a negative outcome, they still want to tell us about the housing issues they’ve been facing.”
The Tenant Stabilization Project aims to prove that when such matters are effectively brought to the court’s attention, positive change can happen.
“That’s the ultimate goal of our project – that tenants in Rhode Island are able to live in affordable, safe, healthy housing,” Wood says. “For us, it makes sense for the tenant to be able to stay in their housing – perhaps through a negotiation with the landlord in the context of an eviction proceeding; and for the landlord to upgrade the housing with some needed repairs to make the unit code-compliant. So the landlord wins, because there’s an upgraded apartment, and a stable tenant who’s paying the rent; and the tenants win, because they’re able to avoid dislocation and all of its negative downstream consequences – from loss of education stability for the children in the family, to potential loss of employment.”
By working together, RWU Law, the Center for Justice, HousingWorks and Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab “hope to make some pretty powerful policy arguments about how these types of cases should be handled in the future,” Wood said.
Laurie Barron,director of RWU Law’s Feinstein Center for Pro Bono & Experiential Education, says the initiative is also a perfect fit for the school’s social justice focus.
“It’s collaborative. It’s in our community. It’s partnering HousingWorks, the Center for Justice, and the Pro Bono Collaborative with our law students. And we also have Harvard’s Access to Justice Lab on our team, dedicating its wisdom, expertise and resources to helping low-income tenants in our community,” Barron explains. “It’s a way of leveraging resources that we just don’t have on our own.”
Eliza Vorenberg, RWU Law’s Director of Pro Bono & Community Partnerships, explains, “This is, at its core, an access-to-justice project, through which many, many low-income people will get representation in eviction cases, and many more will get access to self-help materials. And my guess is that, when the CFJ begins doing these cases on a high-volume basis, we’ll have yet another dimension of work for our law students, which will be supporting the work of the attorneys as they conduct this high-volume eviction defense.”
Part of the project’s synergy comes from the fact that the Pro Bono Collaborative, the Center for Justice and Housing Works are all headquartered at RWU Law’s experiential campus in downtown Providence. “Co-locating us in the same building, in the same city, was a stroke of genius by Roger Williams University,” Clement says, noting that participants from each organization regularly drop by one another’s office for impromptu brainstorming sessions. “It’s an absolutely inspired situation.”
Wood adds that “a small nonprofit center like ours really benefits at every level from having participation from law students. We also have a commitment and a partnership with the law school to employ RWU Law graduates, who come to us for two-year fellowships so that their experiential learning and practical training continues beyond graduation from law school.”
Diorio says the entire project has added a new depth and dimension to her law school experience.
“I’m able to take what I’ve learned in class, and put it to work in a reasonably useful fashion,” she says. “Then I can take that experience back to the classroom and share it with my peers and professors. And because these pro bono programs allow law students, under the supervision of attorneys, to represent clients who might otherwise go unrepresented, we can have a huge impact. It’s a really important piece of what we do here at the law school, and I feel very fortunate to be able to participate in these programs.”
* * *
The Rhode Island Tenant Stabilization Project program is made possible through a gift from Hassenfeld Family Initiatives LLC, which established theHassenfeld Projects – an intensive, three-year initiative to expand and enhance innovative work in experiential education. The grant builds on RWU’s growing cadre of experiential programs that prepare students to meet the demands of today’s employers while building skill sets in areas such as economic development, sustainability and social justice.
Courtesy of Roger Williams University School of Law
Posted Apr 20, 2018 at 12:01 AM
Updated Apr 20, 2018 at 12:02 AM
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s four-year high school graduation rates improved slightly over last year’s figures but substantial gaps remain between white students and students of color as well as between poor students and their middle-class peers.
The R.I. Department of Education reported that, overall, 84.1 percent of the Class of 2017 graduated, a 1.3-point increase over last year.
While rates increased incrementally for black students, students learning English saw a drop in graduation rates, down by 1.4 points.
Rhode Island also lags behind its closest neighbors. Connecticut posted a graduate rate of 87.9 percent while Massachusetts had a rate of 88.3 percent.
Rhode Island’s deputy education commissioner, Mary Ann Snider, said the increase overall represents “a positive trend upward.”
“The important part for us is that it’s trending in the right direction,” she said, noting that Rhode Island has seen an eight-point rise in rates since 2010. “We want to make sure that when kids walk the stage, they are prepared for whatever they want to do next.”
However, urban districts — Providence, Central Falls, Woonsocket and Pawtucket — are graduating students at much lower rates than their suburban peers — with a 15-point gap. Ninety percent of suburban students graduated last year.
More students graduate in five years in urban districts compared with suburban ones, but Snider said that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
She acknowledges that there is a body of research that says students who are held back are at higher risk for dropping out and not attending college.
But, Snider said, Rhode Island is re-imagining the notion of retention. Today, all high school students are supposed to have individual learning goals, including candid conversations about what they need to graduate.
“The fifth year is proving to be beneficial,” she said. “It helps ensure that kids don’t go to the Community College of Rhode Island needing lots of remediation.”
More high school students, Snider said, are also taking Advanced Placement courses and college-level classes at the same time that career and technical opportunities are expanding.
Several educators, led by the superintendents of Providence and Central Falls, have pushed to include funding for English language learners, many of whom are Latino, to be included in the school funding formula, which is currently based on families living in poverty plus a community’s tax capacity. Poorer cities get a larger share of state school dollars than their more affluent peers.
Snider said the state now sets aside $2.5 million in state funds for English language learners but that money is dependent on the General Assembly for support. She also said that her department is offering more support for this population by awarding seals of bi-literacy, which recognize a student’s fluency in two languages by including it on his or her diploma.
“We’re not going to see improvements overnight,” she said.
But Gabriela Domenzain, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, said there should be a real sense of urgency around these numbers.
“Latino students in Rhode have the worst chances of succeeding in the nation, so it comes as no surprise that the achievement gaps are substantial and troubling,” she said. “In order for Rhode Island to succeed, Latino students must succeed, and a concerted effort to close their achievement gaps is necessary and urgent.”
A surprising finding is the eight-point gap between the sexes — with girls graduating at 88.2 percent while boys graduate at only 80.3 percent.
“We don’t want to see that,” Snider said. “It’s concerning. It’s consistent with the gaps in academic achievement” between the sexes.
Snider said the gap may be because traditional classrooms are designed to accommodate girls more than boys, who perhaps would do better with more hands-on learning.
“On the flip side,” she said, “when we look at career and technical programs, we see females accessing them less than male students.”
Classical, East Greenwich and Scituate high schools have the highest graduation rates at roughly 97 percent.
The lowest rates are in the urban districts, with a couple of notable exceptions: Providence Career and Technical Academy posted a 88.9 percent rate, a tribute to hands-on learning and real-life skills.
Woonsocket High School was among the lowest, with a graduation rate of 67.5 percent.
Central Falls High showed improvement, moving up nine points to 78.3 percent.
“We know that we have more work left to do to get more students across the stage, but each year we are making the climb and keeping a steady pace upward,” said Central Falls Superintendent Victor Capellan. “I congratulate the high school leadership, the teachers, the students and the parents for stepping up and demonstrating that students in Central Falls are resilient and they have what it takes to succeed.”
Several charter public schools also displayed rates above 90 percent, including Paul Cuffee School in Providence, Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts in Providence, Beacon Charter School and the Met School in Providence.
But a couple of charters, Skip Nowell Leadership Academy in Providence, which is for pregnant and parenting teens, and Rhode Island Nurses Academy, also in Providence, had rates of 20 percent and below. Nowell just had its charter license renewed.
Courtesy of Providence Journal
Posted: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 06, 2017 06:00 AM EDT
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) - Hundreds of Rhode Island children are starting the school year without a permanent place to live, forcing them to stay with other families, in motels or in the most dire circumstances, on the streets.
But a homeless shelter in Middletown is working to support families by assisting mothers to find jobs and affordable housing while also trying to keep children from falling off track in school.
Lucy's Hearth has been in operation for 33 years, but recently moved into a new building that gives small rooms to 15 families, according to Jennifer Barrera, the organization's program director. Barrera said most families stay in the shelter for between three and six months, although she acknowledged some end up staying longer.
"The best outcomes for us, for the families, are that they achieve permanent affordable housing, that the moms and children, actually the whole family, increases their self-sufficiency," Barrera told Eyewitness News. "So they're getting higher-paying jobs, or they're getting education or training opportunities."
More than 1,000 public school students in Rhode Island were considered homeless during the 2015-16 school year, according to the most recent available data provided to Rhode Island Kids Count, the state's leading child advocacy organization. Providence had the most homeless students (146), but Middletown was second with 117. Only eight communities in the state reported zero homeless kids.
Children who do not have a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless, according to the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law passed in 1987. In Rhode Island, 64% of homeless students were "doubled up" with other families, 25% lived in shelters, 10% lived in hotels or motels and 1% were unsheltered in the 2015-16 school year, according to Kids Count.
The federal law also allows students who are considered homeless to remain in their home school districts even if they are living outside the district. In Middletown's case, many children who live at Lucy's Hearth during the spring or summer end up enrolling in the district's public schools.
Barrera said between 40 and 50 children from newborns to 18-year-olds live at Lucy's Hearth. While the facility is in excellent condition, she said the goal is limit the amount time families stay in the shelter.
"Although this is a great facility and we work really hard so that the families are healthy and safe and the children have all of their needs met, they still are experiencing an episode of homelessness," Barrera said. "And children who experience homelessness are at risk for a whole host of other issues, even into their adulthood."
Barrera said most homeless children are at risk of facing additional educational difficulties and more likely to have chronic health conditions like asthma and respiratory issues. She said the shelter works with school districts to provide transportation and tutoring to those in need.
She said many of the families that come to Lucy's Hearth have faced significant trauma, including family separation, violence and substance abuse. At the same time, the cost of housing has a continued to grow. A single parent earning the minimum wage would need to work 81 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
And some of the biggest consequences from being homeless can be felt in school. Barrera said teachers see kids who are sleeping in different places every night, are hungry and aren't dressed properly, making it difficult for students to focus on classroom work.
"Homelessness affects all of us and even if you don't know what it means to be homeless or you know someone who is homeless or you see a panhandler on the street, homelessness for children is a great problem," Barrera said.
Barrera said the most important thing adults can do to help homeless families is get involved through donations to shelters or volunteering their time. Donations to Lucy's Hearth can be made here.
Courtesy of WPRI 12
Stay in the loop by subscribing to our newsletter!
Newsletter Sign Up
Newsletter Sign Up
One Empire Plaza
Providence, RI 02903
A project of HousingWorks RI