City Council Holds First 2022 Meeting
• Council President John Igliozzi issues unprecedented address and calls for an independent audit to oversee the disbursement of $124 million in federal relief funds
• Council calls on RI DOT to reduce the speed limit on Allens Ave to 25 mph
• Council calls on Providence Housing to stimulate more affordable housing
• A final ordinance passed prohibiting the storage of liquid propane gas (LPG) in the city
• Councilors call on the administration to hire a consultant to understand the true status of all city-owned real estate for the possibility of developing affordable housing or other public services
Providence, RI – At tonight’s Providence City Council meeting, President John Igliozzi (Ward 7) set a serious and circumspect agenda for 2022, which includes holding the line on taxes, supporting police and public safety, as well as the importance of the once in a decade legislative process involving the Charter Review Commission and Ward Boundaries Committee. COVID-19 has decimated Providence’s restaurants, hotels, and small locally owned businesses. Many folks have lost jobs and cannot find housing. The city has an enormous responsibility of dispersing $124 million in American Rescue Plant Act recovery funds. “That is why, as part of the ARPA budget, I will be recommending the Council retain the services of an independent auditor to track, monitor, and prepare bi-weekly reports on ARPA expenditures. This will allow the Council and the public to monitor the progress of every ARPA dollar,” said Igliozzi.
Liquid Propane Gas
The City Council passed President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal’s (Ward 10) ordinance prohibiting the storage of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG) in Providence. This legislation comes after Pro Tempore Espinal and community activists continued to advocate to stop outside corporations from increasing the storage of highly combustible LPG in the Port of Providence. While Liquid Natural Gas has long been prohibited in Providence due to its high risk of combusting, Espinal has led the effort to broaden this prohibition to Liquid Propane Gas. “Tonight’s ordinance is a big win for protecting the environment and neighborhoods in the Port of Providence. The families of South Providence have too often gotten the short end of the stick as an environmentally harmful industry is allowed to freely expand in their back yards. This ordinance puts Providence residents first and takes a stand against environmentally harmful business practices. I am grateful to my council colleagues and the many tireless community advocates who have joined me in the continued fight for public health, and environmental protection in our city,” said Espinal.
Councilwoman and Finance Committee Chair Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced and passed a resolution, that calls on the Providence Housing Authority to act with urgency and maximize its allocation of Project-Based Vouchers (PBV) to promote the development of affordable housing in the capital city. The 2001 federal housing law allows public housing agencies like the PHA to convert up to 20% of their Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) portfolios to Project-Based Vouchers. What’s the difference? HCVs travel with the family, commonly in one-off privately owned units. PBVs stay rooted in Providence and when coupled with other housing assistance resources, provide critical gap financing to otherwise unsustainable affordable housing developments. “The PHA is underutilizing this critical tool which creates affordable housing for disabled, elderly, and low-income households. Only 100 Project-Based Vouchers exist under the PHA. That’s about 4% of its portfolio and far too low. The PHA has a long way to go to stimulate construction and service the needs of residents looking for a place to call home,” said Ryan.
Tonight, Councilor David Salvatore (Ward 14) and the City Council passed resolution 35044, calling for the detailed analysis of all city-owned real estate, to identify possible areas to develop affordable housing. In September of 2020, the Council requested a list of all real estate owned by the city and the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA). Initial estimates show more than 150 city-owned vacant lots. “Right now, our city is seeing an unprecedented need for affordable housing. Through this resolution, and the assessments of our real estate, we can begin to utilize untapped resources to bring housing to the people of Providence,” said Councilman Salvatore. “I am excited to begin exploring potential avenues for dynamic and much-needed development of these otherwise unutilized parcels and buildings.” The Council is now calling for immediate site assessments of all real estate owned by the PRA and the city.