In his State of the State Address Tuesday night, Governor Dan McKee rolled out a historic housing proposal, including calling for the largest share of American Rescue Plan Act’s State Fiscal Recovery Funds, a quarter of a billion dollars, to be invested in housing and homelessness assistance.
“It’s time to come together to make a once-in-a-generation investment in housing in Rhode Island,” said Governor McKee. “For Rhode Island to be an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family, we must address the availability and quality of housing – that means everything from providing supports to those experiencing homelessness, to increasing affordable housing, to ensuring we build more workforce housing for our middle-class families. The moment of opportunity is there – let’s make it happen.”
“One of the pillars of my Lieutenant Governorship has been the promotion of healthy, accessible, and affordable housing,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. “This historic investment with one-time funds will increase housing inventory, pave a pathway to homeownership for working families, and add to and fortify safety nets for our neighbors experiencing homelessness. Every single cent out of this quarter of a billion-dollar investment will be stretched to its maximum, most efficient use.”
The Governor’s housing proposal includes:
Investing in Development
– The Governor calls for an investment of $90 million in project financing to create and preserve approximately 1,500 affordable housing units for households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income (approximately $63,000 for a three-person household in most parts of the state).
– The Governor also recommends establishing a $25 million grant program for the acquisition of properties to be redeveloped into affordable and supportive housing, as well as allocating $10 million to increase developers’ ability to get projects underway.
– Recognizing that the State must increase the housing supply at varying price points to address increasing demand, the Governor’s proposal calls for using $20 million to support workforce housing for Rhode Island families.
– In addition to developing new units and preserving existing ones, the State must boost the potential of vacant and blighted properties and invest in critical home repairs in communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. The Governor’s proposal calls for $25 million to be made available to redevelop these properties for the express purpose of creating housing and community/commercial spaces that satisfy community needs, as well as supporting critical home repairs.
Down Payment Assistance
– Homeownership is one of the most important ways to build generational wealth, yet Rhode Island has one of the lowest homeownership rates in the country, in part because many households cannot afford the down payment. To bring homeownership within reach of more Rhode Islanders, the Governor proposes an allocation of $50 million to provide $17,500 in down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers.
– The Governor’s proposal calls for spending $21.5 million to assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness or housing instability. The funding supports both operating subsidies for extremely low-income housing units and services for people transitioning from homelessness to housing, including individuals transitioning out of the Adult Correctional Institutions.
The Governor’s plan also includes $5 million to increase shelter capacity for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
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