Five Questions With: Nellie M. Gorbea

Back in 2012 Providence Business News sat down with Gorbea to discuss the housing market in Rhode Island, when she was executive director of HousingWorksRI. 


Nellie M. Gorbea is executive director of HousingWorks RI, a coalition of nearly 140 organizations with the goal of making sure Rhode Island has enough affordable homes to satisfy the need.

Earlier this week, the organization issued a report that analyzed data on the state’s foreclosure problem and its implications for housing in the Ocean State.

PBN: The report you released yesterday said that the foreclosure crisis has affected 6,324 housing units in multi-family properties. What does that mean and is that effect permanent?

GORBEA: Nearly one-third of the residential foreclosure deeds filed from 2009 through 2011 were multi-family properties. Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket had the highest numbers of multi-family foreclosures. This is important to our state, because nearly 40 percent of Rhode Islanders are renters. Losing apartments to the foreclosure crisis has helped sustain high rental prices across the state.

We released an issue brief last month that showed 1 in 4 Rhode Island renters is extremely cost burdened, spending more than 50 percent of their income on housing. This means those renters have less to spend on other necessities such as food and health care.

The effect of the foreclosure crisis does not have to be permanent. With the right policies and investments, Rhode Island can emerge economically stronger from the foreclosure crisis. For example, our report highlights the work of the Smith Hill CDC in Providence to rehabilitate foreclosed multi-family properties into long-term affordable rental homes. That work is being supported by the state’s affordable housing bond and is not only growing the supply of affordable apartments, but jobs as well.

To read the rest of the interview Click Here