RI ponders creating more affordable housing

PROVIDENCE, RI – State Treasurer Gina Raimondo is lending her support to ballot question 7, which would allow the state to borrow 25 million dollars for affordable housing. The funds would be matched five fold in grants and donations from other sources.

Backers of the measure feel confident it will pass.

Backers of ballot question 7 gathered in Pawtucket to kick off a campaign to get it passed. The bond measure would provide funds to build 600 units of affordable housing across the state, either through rehabilitation or new construction.

State treasurer Gina Raimondo, a longtime member of the Crossroads shelter board of directors, says the housing is badly needed. "It's not right. Every day the shelter is bursting, the family center is bursting families sleeping on floors and couches and wherever they can put them. And these are by and large working families -- children. It's time for them to have a home to live in."

Among the groups backing the measure is the Rhode Island Builders Association. The group's president, Bob Baldwin, says the recession has left his members with a high rate of unemployment. "In recorded history we've never had such little construction going on in the state of Rhode Island. By the same token we have unemployment depending on the trade between 20 and 40 percent. So these jobs that will be created will also generate other jobs - ripple effect through the economy - so we need those jobs."

Backers of question 7 say internal polling shows it has broad support among the Rhode Island electorate.

Six years ago an affordable housing bond measure for twice as much money passed by a wide margin. It was used to create 13-hundred housing units. The money was exhausted last year.

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