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.
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.