Rep. Batista bill would help push abandoned properties for redevelopment

In a move aimed at tackling Rhode Island’s pressing housing crisis, Representative José F. Batista has introduced legislation requiring towns to publicize lists of abandoned properties. The bill, a component of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s comprehensive 15-bill package, seeks to spur housing production across the state.

The proposed legislation, designated as 2024-H 7986, seeks to amend existing statutes on abandoned properties. It mandates municipalities to maintain inventories of such properties, subject to yearly updates, and clarifies the process for their necessary abatement.

Representative Batista, representing District 12 in Providence, emphasized the potential of redeveloping these neglected properties. “There are so many places in our communities that were once useful, and really could be useful again if someone made the effort to redevelop them,” he said. “Development that transforms blighted properties into the homes we desperately need would help address our housing crisis while simultaneously making our existing neighborhoods safer and more vibrant.”

Drawing from his experience as assistant city solicitor for the City of Central Falls from June 2021 to August 2023, Batista highlighted his leadership role in the Nuisance Property Task Force. This task force focused on devising community-oriented solutions for nuisance and abandoned properties, providing Batista with firsthand insight into the challenges and opportunities in this realm.

Moreover, Representative Batista has a track record of advocacy in housing-related matters. Last year, he sponsored a bill (2023-H 6083A) that aimed to streamline appeals of comprehensive permits for affordable housing, contributing to the broader efforts to address housing accessibility in Rhode Island.

The legislation is set for a hearing today before the House Municipal Government and Housing Committee, marking a significant step forward in the state’s endeavor to confront its housing crisis head-on.




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