Ending Homelessness with Housing: RI's Opportunity to Create Affordable Housing
by Michelle Wilcox
This year, Rhode Island voters will have the opportunity to vote to approve a $50 million housing bond to fund the building and refurbishing of 800 affordable homes in our state.
According to Rhode Island Housing’s annual rent survey, rental costs including utilities went up between 5.11% and 6.68% in 2015 depending on apartment size, while wages remained stagnant for most Rhode Islanders.
Our rental market is crowded, with a vacancy rate of under 5%. Because 40% of Rhode Islanders are renters, competition for housing – especially affordable housing – is tight, and right now there simply isn’t enough for everyone.
Compared to our neighbors in Massachusetts and Connecticut, Rhode Island falls woefully short on investing in affordable housing and homelessness prevention programs; we invest just $8 per capita, while Massachusetts invests $99 per capita, and Connecticut invests $76 per capita.
Investing in affordable housing is not just the right thing to do – it’s also the smart thing to do. A 2008 study found a Rhode Island taxpayer savings of $7,946 per person who was re-housed after being homeless, due to the decreased utilization of government services such as emergency room visits, hospital stays, shelter stays, and interaction with law enforcement.
And with Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remaining among the highest in the country, the 1,700 well-paying jobs created by the approval of this bond would surely provide a boost to our economy over the coming years.
In 2006 and 2012, voters approved similar housing bonds which resulted in the addition of 1,670 affordable homes to our housing market. These homes were not only added in the cities, but in 31 communities throughout the state.
Kingstown Crossings consists of over 100 units of affordable housing
Kingstown Crossings, an affordable housing complex in North Kingstown owned and managed by Crossroads Rhode Island, was one of the projects made possible by these bonds.
Situated on 14 acres, Kingstown Crossings consists of two housing developments for individuals and families – over 100 units in total. It is is an environmentally friendly complex with energy-saving appliances and other features designed to reduce utility usage and cost.
Residents have easy access to supportive staff, community-based programs, schools, transportation, and clean and safe playgrounds and basketball courts.
Affordable housing projects like Kingstown Crossings not only strengthen Rhode Island’s economy, they strengthen families and communities.
Voting Yes on 7 this November will allow our state to continue to grow economically and socially, while building a better quality of life for citizens at all income levels, and not just those at the top.