News & Event
Cranston, Rhode Island—like many of America’s cities, suburban towns and rural communities—is a place where the historical influences of systemic racism continue to live under the cover of good intentions. As deeply involved partners in the community, we set out to learn about the City’s history and how we got to today’s inequities. One of us, Ayana, is the Initiative Director for OneCranston, our cross-sector collective impact table; the other, Annette, is a member of the Civic Design Team and a long-time parent in the Cranston public school district. Through conversations with local residents, we captured stories of dynamics that plague all of our cities, big and small, but also heard a vision of a united city where all children thrive in school, all parents accomplish their professional dreams, and all residents are able to care for their families and community.
Like many cities in America split due to redlining in the 1930’s, Cranston’s historical divided lines live on today as East versus West. In the 1970s, the Western side became a destination for those escaping the urbanization and growing diversity of the Eastern side—the proverbial “white flight.” Income disparity and racial identity continue to feed this divide, and have kept us from fully integrating into “OneCranston,” focused on equitable results for all people. In a post- Brown vs. Board of Education America, nationwide our schools are proof points that segregation continues in America, supporting the continued oppression of students of color. Cranston is no exception—a small city with a great divide.
Our system is set up by historical policies and maintained by our discomfort with change and privileging the comfort of white people. But this is not a zero sum game.
In 2017, Cranston, RI joined the Working Cities Challenge, a cohort of cities designing a Collective Impact approach to create sustainable change with residents. Our goal is to create a different Cranston than the one we inherited. The work would not be easy and there is no silver bullet solution. The Cranston of tomorrow is one where we wrestle with the truths and lived experiences of East and West side residents. One where we have deep conversations about race and class and how our local policies, practices and status quo perpetuate our community’s divide along the lines of racial identity.
Hard Conversations to Acknowledge Impact
Narratives that our nation perpetuates drive local and national divides along race and class identities. In Cranston, we were up against national narratives in a local context—as many of us are in social change work. As members of the 21st Century Community Learning Center and Cranston Educational Advisory Board, we both heard many of these narratives come to life in conversations about our schools, even with no intent for negative impact on our students:
The Cranston of tomorrow is one where we wrestle with the truths and lived experiences of East and West side residents.
Ayana: Many of our brown students and lower-income students grow up with the narrative that their only path is to get a local job that barely covers their cost of living. Our students often aren’t allowed the opportunity to see past living paycheck to paycheck, and to explore options for higher paying work. Such narratives perpetuate the outcomes we see too often. Cranston East graduates are disproportionately dropping out after their 1st year of post-secondary education, while Cranston West graduates are more likely to excel in post-secondary education due to more access to tutoring and college prep programs.
One might argue, is it the chicken or the egg? Are East students not equipped, or does the system ensure they will not succeed? It’s no question. “If you’re black, brown, or poor and white, you don’t have a future here” as one student blatantly expressed to me one day. As Cranston continues to grow and diversify to include Dominican and Cambodian families, it is critical to build a culture of inclusion within the community.
That student reminded me of the role I must play as a Black woman who grew up poor in an affluent community, feeling the need to prove myself time and time again. They reminded me that there is no way to address the disparities, the narratives and the systems in Cranston without coming together.
Annette: As a parent of a child who went through the Cranston Public School System and a white woman, I was quickly made aware of the disparities, well-known in the community, across the school district. While I was proud and excited to have my child in Cranston East, I saw the attrition of white students at each stage of schooling—from middle school to high school—as parents opted out of the public system to send their growing children to private and Catholic institutions. As someone who knew the socioeconomic data of my neighborhood, I understood what these numbers meant for the school district. My commitment to my child and community led me to join and later become chair of Cranston Educational Advisory Board to advocate for all the schools across the districts and ensure parity—regardless of incomes, race or ethnicity. I’ve been able to participate in a way I feel is critical and helpful by being keenly aware of what’s at stake for our district if we don’t begin to embrace the fact that we are an inner-ring suburb with a diverse school population.
Coming Together for Justice
We all come to the work of social and economic justice from our own places of lived experience, education, and view of the world. The collective impact approach for designing and implementing change—with its cross-sector focus and emphasis on centering residents—opens new opportunities and holds the power of creating a collective vision for community, rather than the divisiveness we often experience.
To build the relationships necessary for this work, it is critical to start with people, re-humanizing ourselves and others as a community together. We did this by talking about our personal relationship to Cranston. The table shared which side of Cranston they grew up or worked in, and how the narratives and systems put in place before us continue to play a huge role in the lack of social cohesion and equity in the city. Simple check-in questions at the start of meetings, as Joanna Carrasco shares in this resource, are another way to bring the critical personal into the professional space.
As Initiative Director, Ayana wanted the collaborative to feel that they had a huge impact in uniting Cranston and creating opportunities for upward socioeconomic mobility. Having equity pauses and using toolkits, like “Making Community Partnership Work: A Toolkit”, helped us create authentic relationships between ourselves and community members.
Equity pauses are also a place to insert art—poetry, spoken word, paintings and even TEDTalks. Some of the TEDTalks we utilized in Cranston in order to move conversations forward were;
We are learning a lot throughout the process both from ourselves and others. We plan to continue to share resources we have found helpful in our journey, and hope you will engage and do the same with us.
In addition to the great achievements over the last year, we know there is still great work ahead for us. We are thankful to those who have supported us as people and thankful to the residents of Cranston, RI in trusting us in this work and joining us on this journey.
Additional insights, support and input from: Joanna Carrasco, Coordinator, Megan McGlinchey, Associate, and Hafizah Omar and Shanee Helfer, Senior Associates at Living Cities.
CONTRIBUTOR Initiative Director, OneCranston, Working Cities Challenge
Ayana Diane Crichton is the Initiative Director for OneCranston in Cranston, Rhode Island which is an awarded Working Cities Challenge site.
CONTRIBUTOR Cranston Resident, Research & Policy Director, HousingWorks RI, Roger Williams University
Annette is the Research & Policy Director for HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University (HWRI).
Courtesy of Living Cities
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
Courtesy of USGBC+
By Kendra Gravelle | email@example.com
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – As renovations on the future location of Rogers Home for Sober Living continue, the directors are seeking donations to help bring the facility to fruition.
“If it wasn’t for someone helping me 23 years ago, none of this could have gotten to where it is today,” Milton Rogers, executive director of Rogers Home, said Tuesday. “And I’m not successful in just recovery, I’m also successful in life – that’s why out program offers recovery for life.”
Frank Moreau, director of life skills at the non-profit sober living facility, stood Monday in the house at 28 Columbia St., construction plans spread out in front of him. He spoke about the goals for the facility and about the need for funding in order to get it up and running.
“Every day you pick up the paper and see [for example] ‘Mr. Smith died, and he gave $24 million to URI,” Moreau said, “and you’re thinking, ‘why can’t we get a little piece of that?’ And we’d do a lot of good with it.”
A special use permit was approved for the project by the zoning board in April of 2017, but plans for the facility have been in the works since 2016. Renovations are now well underway, and with a newly replaced roof, work to refurbish the interior can now begin.
The facility will have the capacity to house up to 14 men recovering from drug addiction and alcoholism.
“It’ll be sort of like dorm living,” Moreau explained, standing in a room, which, once renovations are complete, will be four single bedrooms.
Moreau touted the programs as being based in education, aimed at getting addicts back on their feet through things like recovery coaching and employment assistance.
“You will drink or do drugs again until you learn how not to,” he said.
Sunlight floods the house through its windows, and wooden floors run throughout. The facility has two full kitchens, and there have been discussions about installing a holistic wellness center in the garage.
Moreau said he anticipates the facility will be up and running in the coming spring, depending largely on funding.
“We’re really looking forward to it,” he said.
Rogers and Moreau were met last year with mixed reactions from residents as they sought their special use permit, with some arguing that the location – with children walking to and from school along the sidewalks in front of the building – isn’t appropriate.
But Moreau disagrees.
“At least here, they’re not drinking and doing drugs,” he said Monday, adding that without a place like Rogers Home, many of the residents may end up homeless and would likely continue to abuse drugs and alcohol.
Rogers added that he hopes this facility can help erase the stigma surrounding addiction.
“Nobody wants to know about this until it happens to their kid, or their sister, or their mother, or their father,” he said.
Rogers Home operates one other facility in Pawtucket, where 12 men live currently. And there’s great need across the state for sober living facilities, Moreau said, adding that priority at Rogers Home will be given to residents of southern Rhode Island.
A physician from Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center located in Exeter, made a similar assertion during last year’s public hearing. Colleen Weeks argued there’s a serious lack of sober living facilities in southern Rhode Island, and added that many patients who leave rehab facilities like Phoenix House have difficulty finding places to rent and need a place like Rogers Home to go to.
“Almost anyone you talk to, you’re going to find a connection somewhere to addiction – in that family, in that circle of friends,” Moreau added Monday. “There’s hardly a person you can to talk to who doesn’t understand how difficult it is to have someone in your life with addiction.”
Rogers Home residents will have to follow a set of requirements, including random on-site drug and alcohol testing, mandatory meetings, and each resident must either be employed, actively searching for employment or taking classes.
“If you come into our house and you do what we ask you to do, you’re going to do well,” Moreau said.
Moreau described a typical day of a Rogers Home resident.
“It’s a regular day,” he said. “You get up in the morning, you go to work, come home, freshen up, have a bite to eat, go to an AA meeting, come home, a little down time, go to bed, get up in the morning and do the same thing over again.”
Residents typically stay for at least 10 months. And residents’ success is after leaving will be closely followed, Rogers said.
“We want to know what’s going on, what are you up to now,” he said. “I think that’s a big part of recovery. We’re trying to get real results.”
Moreau added that he’s heard several success stories from former residents.
“Probably the best of all are not only when they’re successful,” he said, “but when they can now be with their kids.”
Rogers Home holds on major fundraiser annually at Café Nuovo in Providence. The Recovery for Life Fundraiser typically raises nearly $100,00 to supplement operating costs, Moreau explained.
“This year we’re trying to double that,” he said, adding that all proceeds will go to completing the Wakefield facility. “Because with the engineering proposals, the inside and outside work, it’s a $200,000 bill.”
The fundraiser will be held Dec. 12. Attendees are asked to donate $500, which will include two tickets into the event and entry into a drawing for either $10,00 or a three-year lease on a 2019 BMW.
Those interesting in purchasing tickets or in donating money to the Wakefield facility can visit rogerssoberliving.org.
“We need the community,” Moreau said. “we need people to get involved and help us out.”
Courtesy of The Narragansett Times
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Courtesy of Enterprise
By Scott Blake -July 20, 2018 3:00 am
Rhode Island again scored well in a recent report on the strength and enforcement of its homebuilding codes. However, with the 2018 hurricane season underway, several factors could put the state’s housing stock at risk in the event of a major storm.
Rhode Island’s residential building-code system ranked sixth out of 18 hurricane-prone states, scoring 87 out of 100 points, according to a May report from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, a Tampa, Fla.-based research group funded by the insurance industry.
Florida ranked first with a score of 95. Virginia was second (94) and South Carolina finished third (92). Neighboring New England states Connecticut (89) and Massachusetts (81) ranked fifth and ninth, respectively.
“The bottom line is Rhode Island has done a very good job” with its residential building-code system, said Debra Ballen, the Insurance Institute’s general counsel and senior vice president of public policy.
“The people who run the [state Building Code] Commission are very dedicated to keeping the codes strong and keeping them updated,” Ballen said.
However, she added, the Rhode Island codes still contain a deficiency highlighted in prior editions of the Rating the States report, issued every three years. Specifically, Section R 301.2.11 of the code allows homes to be designed as partially enclosed in wind-borne debris regions as a substitute for “protecting glazed openings.”
What that means, Ballen said, is that windows, in certain cases statewide, are not required to have added protection such as hurricane shutters or special reinforced glass.
“Such a design methodology … increases the likelihood that wind-driven rain could enter a home in the event windows and glazed areas are broken during a storm, which is a concern,” the report stated.
The partially enclosed building design was eliminated long ago as an option in the International Residential Code. Updated every three years, the IRC is a comprehensive system that sets minimum standards for construction of one- and two-family homes.
Ballen said the insurance industry has been considering incentives that could be offered to homeowners who make improvements to their homes, such as putting on new, stronger roofs. One such incentive could be providing discounts in the insurance rates that homeowners pay.
“We don’t know of any states that have made [such discounts] mandatory,” she added, “but it has been discussed.”
Rhode Island currently is enforcing the 2012 edition of the IRC with state amendments. The Rating the States report recommended that Rhode Island consider updating its residential code based on the latest edition of the IRC.
The report also found that Rhode Island’s residential codes for high-wind design have “several weak provisions” for roof truss-to-wall connections, as well as design and anchorage of shear walls.
In Rhode Island, another cause for concern is changes to flood-zone maps, done in recent years by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Grover Fugate, executive director of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council, which oversees development and protection of the state’s coastal areas.
Fugate said the changes by FEMA in many cases have lowered projected flood levels around Rhode Island, meaning that some homes could be built at lower elevations more vulnerable to flooding. The map changes are particularly alarming, he said, considering the increased risk for major storms and rising sea levels.
“Their information [at FEMA] is flawed. They underestimated the flooding in coastal areas,” Fugate said, adding, “All it would take is the right storm track at high tide and some homes could be taken out.”
In response, he added, the CRMC, using different data than FEMA, developed its own, more cautious set of flood maps. The council has been in discussions with the state Building Code Commission and Rhode Island homebuilders about using the council’s flood maps as an alternative to FEMA’s maps. Such maps typically are integrated into building codes.
Meanwhile, 2017 was the most costly year on record for weather-related disasters in the United States, with damages totaling about $306 billion, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In its outlook for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA is projecting an average to above-average season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. The agency’s outlook calls for 10-16 named storms. That includes five to nine hurricanes, one to four of which are expected to be major hurricanes.
Colorado State University, which also issues a key hurricane outlook, expects an average hurricane season with 14 named storms. That includes six hurricanes, two of which are expected to be major.
Courtesy of PBN
The State Housing Resources Commission (HRC) is pleased to announce the availability of resources under the Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) program, a State-funded (Affordable Housing Bond) initiative. Working with RI Housing and other stakeholders, the HRC will utilize this program to create and preserve affordable housing throughout Rhode Island.
While the timeline and some of the forms are similar to those required to apply for Rhode Island Housing programs, please note BHRI is a distinct program with separate requirements, forms and procedures. Only those applications submitted through the BHRI RFP process will be considered for State BHRI funding.
The application forms developed (and attached below) include a great deal of information necessary for the HRC and RI Housing staff to properly score your proposals in accordance with the RFP. The intent of this detailed RFP/Scoring system is to enable potential applicants to more fully understand how they might potentially rank against other proposals. At the conclusion of this application process, HRC staff will consult with applicants and stakeholders to assure the process was effective and efficient. Changes in the process may occur based upon this reexamination. Your input into this process is very much appreciated.
Full and complete applications are due to Raymond Neirinckx, HRC staff, no later than 3:00pm on Friday - December 15, 2017. Please assure two hard copies and an electronic version of the application are delivered by the due date. Late applications will not be considered.
Thank you for interest in helping to address the State’s affordable housing needs. We look forward to working with you and community stakeholders to best utilize resources made available.
Questions regarding the applications must be submitted to Raymond Neirinckx at Raymond.Neirinckx@doa.ri.gov. Responses to questions will be made available through the office’s website at http://www.ohcd.ri.gov
Michael Tondra, Chief
RI Office of Housing & Community Development & Housing Resources Commission
For more information, and to find application attachments, click here.
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