Affordable Housing

Building a Strong Foundation for Rhode Island’s Future

Housing is the foundation upon which our economy will grow and strengthen. Rhode Islanders’ employment opportunities, educational outcomes, and the overall health of our community require safe, accessible, and truly affordable homes regardless of community or income.

Rhode Island needs more family housing, senior housing, single-room occupancy housing, and supportive housing for people with special behavioral or physical needs. Sustainably building these homes for the benefit of all Rhode Islanders requires cooperation between the state and local municipalities.

Why This Matters

To put this all in perspective, according to HousingWorks RI’s 2021 Housing Fact Book, in 2020 there was not one city or town in Rhode Island where families making the median yearly household income of almost $70k could “affordably buy” a home. For renters, only Burrillville provided the average Rhode Islander a place to affordably live. And currently, one of every three of all Rhode Island households are housing burdened (spending more than 30% of their income on housing).

Housing affordability is fast becoming an issue in many areas of our country but Rhode Island is uniquely placed to be the leader and first to solve this problem. In my vision for our state, we not only build more housing that is sustainable and maximizes our land use, we become the provider to our neighboring states of housing developers and contractors.

For decades, we made it difficult to build homes – especially family homes. Regulations, permits, fees and bureaucratic processes are at the heart of what we need to tackle if we are to increase the number of homes built. We cannot fund our way out of this problem – we need to fundamentally change the way we plan for and build housing in our state.

Main Priorities

  • Consistently fund the development of supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness and those who require ongoing behavioral health services.
  • Appoint a Secretary of Housing and Community Development who reports to the Governor and oversees a new coordinating agency of government. I will take an active, leading role, working with the General Assembly and municipalities, in coordinating housing policy and production to tangibly address the issue.
  • Work with state agencies, municipalities, nonprofit and for-profit home builders on a statewide process that simplifies and expedites the building of homes. Uncertainty and delays in the building process leads to increased costs. We can streamline permitting while ensuring that we build a diversity of home types and incentivize the building of energy-efficient homes.
  • Implement programs that incentivize the modernizing of multi-family properties. Work with municipalities to hold landlords accountable for properties that are not being maintained to code.
  • Create incentives that promote energy efficient practices in new home construction of both market rate and government subsidized housing.
  • Address expiring deed restrictions so affordable homes stay affordable.
  • Work with cities and towns to stabilize rising property tax rates.

“She actually understands the housing challenges out there. She has deep expertise on why housing is a challenging issue in this state.”

Dave, North Kingstown

Dave, North Kingstown

A Once in a Lifetime Investment

The infusion of funds provided by the Biden Administration gives Rhode Island an opportunity to truly provide solutions to the problems that have faced our housing sector for generations. The goal of finding a home for all Rhode Islanders requires that we must get this right.

We will strategically look at incentives to address municipal concerns that building family homes leads to a rise in property taxes. In doing this, we will reward our towns and cities with additional state funding for education and provide them with assistance to upgrade and increase their outdated sewer systems, water services, and other town financial responsibilities.

Rhode Island towns can then upgrade services to modernize and prepare for our future. This alleviates the burdens that additional growth puts on Rhode Island municipalities. Working with Rhode Island towns and cities in this way allows them to incorporate historic preservation and town character into growth plans that anticipate the future – shifting to renewable energy and incorporating greater access to broadband.

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What Matters to You?

Send me a note on how these issues affect your life. Send me your ideas to solve our problems. Together, we can build a better Rhode Island.

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Nellie Gorbea is leading on the toughest issues and getting results, leading the way for other states across the nation.

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