November, 2018 – LISC partners added 330 new units of housing for low to moderate income families in Rhode Island during the first week in November. Two ribbon cuttings in Providence, one in Pawtucket and another in Burrillville marked the completion of four projects to address the housing shortage in Rhode Island.
“It was a banner week,” says Jeanne Cola, Executive Director of LISC Rhode Island. “But we need to do this every week in order to fill the gap.”
According to the 2018 Housing Fact Book, an in depth analysis of housing data from HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University, the continuous climb in the cost of housing and the limited housing stock has resulted in more than 35% of all Rhode Island households being cost burdened. That means 145,000 households are paying more than 30% of their income on housing. Of those 145,000 families, nearly half (44%) are paying more than 50%.
“When families are paying such a big part of their income on housing, that means there is less available for healthcare, child care, transportation and even food,” said Cola. “That has a dramatic and far reaching impact on these families and our economy. Everything we can do to address this problem should be done. Adding more than 300 in a week was great, but we need to add more than 3,000 homes a year to begin to address the shortfall.”
The ribbon cutting in Burrillville was the celebration of the opening of the community center located at the Greenridge Commons, a new affordable development in Pascoag, and an acknowledgement of that town’s achievement in reaching its 10% goal of affordable housing. The project includes 75 apartments and 21 scattered site renovations.
“This is a beautiful development, with clapboard houses surrounded by nice landscaping and manicured lawns,” said Cola. “This is the kind of affordable housing that our state needs and our partners at NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley deliver.”
The $29 million project created handsome New England style duplexes and triplexes on a rural 226-acre parcel of land. LISC Rhode Island provided pre-development funding to help finance the project.
Another ribbon cutting added another 29 newly constructed apartments and 17 renovated units on Branch Street in Pawtucket. The site was an overgrown lot along the river on the Pawtucket/Central Falls line that served as an illegal dumping ground for more than a decade. Now, with the help of the EPA in addition to LISC, RI Housing and many others, there are beautiful homes looking over a riverscape.
“This is another great example of what’s possible for affordable housing,” said Cola. “Money has choices and we were really happy to put in the early money on this project. The holidays are coming and now there will be families here in safe, affordable homes.”
Two additional celebrations added housing in Providence. An abandoned mill that was once the home of the Imperial Knife Company in the Olneyville area is now 60 additional units of mixed-income housing. One Neighborhood Builders, the Community Development Corporation and LISC partner, worked withTrinity Financial, a real estate development firm with success in tackling complex urban sites. The project remediated an environmentally contaminated brownfield site, reclaimed a historically significant building and continues the revitalization of that community.
“Rhode Island is on the move,” said Governor Gina Raimondo. “We work hard to create jobs, but it’s important to remember that it’s a lot harder to go to work if you don’t have a roof over your head.”
The Governor also was at the ribbon cutting at Oxford Gardens and Oxford Place in Providence celebrating 128 newly renovated apartments. The $25 million project also included adding green infrastructure and community improvements. The Preservation of Affordable Housing organization and RI Housing updated the complex, originally built in 1978 and 1989, to include new heating, water, roof and solar panels.
Members of Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation were on hand for many of the ribbon cuttings. “Investing in our local neighborhoods and working families creates a ripple effect, employing construction workers, beautifying our community, addressing public safety issues and strengthening our economy,” said Senator Jack Reed. “I am proud to help deliver funds that drive growth and investment in and for Rhode Island’s housing market.”