City Council Establishes Special Commission to Study Affordable Housing

Councilman Seth Yurdin’s resolution to establish the Special Commission to Study Affordable Housing in Providence was passed by the full council at tonight’s City Council meeting.

“Adequate housing is a human right. And key to that is affordable housing.  Affordable housing is critical for the well-being of adults, families and children, and it helps make our neighborhoods better places to live,” stated Councilman Seth Yurdin, Ward One. “Bringing together a commission of experts and stakeholders to advise our community on how to tackle this crisis will hopefully help address this serious issue.”

Yurdin was joined by the full council in co-sponsoring the resolution.

City Council President David Salvatore stated, “Just this week I met two amazing women; both were once homeless, but through different pathways they found a place to call home. Although they are no longer homeless, each shared their concerns about the rising cost of housing and their fears of returning to the streets.”

Salvatore added, “We are reaching a critical point in the struggle for adequate and affordable housing in Providence. I feel strongly that by bringing together this group of housing experts we will be able to find solutions to some of the most pressing housing challenges that we are facing today.”

Affordability, as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is when housing costs for a family do not exceed 30 percent of their household income. In 2014 the National Housing Conference reported that nearly one-quarter of renters in the Providence metro area spent at least half of their income on housing – which makes them severely “housing cost burdened,” and means they have less disposable income to spend on basic needs. Additionally, the need for affordable housing continues to grow, while stock is diminishing.  It’s projected that Rhode Island will need between 34,000 to 40,000 NEW housing units over the next 10 years to keep pace with the demand.  Yet, despite this growing need for housing, Rhode Island had the lowest per capita spending on housing in New England in both 2015 and 2016.

Affordable housing can allow households more resources to pay for healthcare and healthy food, and high-quality housing limits exposure to environmental toxins such as lead.

The Special Commission to Study Affordable Housing will be composed of:

  • Brenda Clement, Director, Housing WorksRI
  • Barbara Fields, Executive Director, Rhode Island Housing
  • Sally Hersey, President, Greater Providence Board of Realtors
  • Melina Lodge, Executive Director, Housing Network of Rhode Island
  • John Marcantonio, Executive Director, Rhode Island Builders Association
  • Melissa Sanzaro, Executive Director, Providence Housing Authority
  • Michael Tondra, Executive Director, Rhode Island Office of Housing & Community Development

The special commission will issue a report with findings and recommendations to the full City Council by November 1, 2018.

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