housing

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If you face foreclosure in Rhode Island, you’re guaranteed a sit-down with your bank, to try and mediate a deal. But that guarantee is set to expire in July.

That has housing advocates and local leaders concerned that foreclosures will once again blight neighborhoods with abandoned properties. They’re pushing legislation that would extend the program, until at least 2023.     

Adopted in 2013, after the housing crisis, some 700 homeowners have avoided foreclosure as a result of these mediation session, according to Barbara Fields, director of Rhode Island Housing.  

To paraphrase a remark (mistakenly) attributed to Mark Twain, the coldest winter I ever spent was a spring in southern New England. But we roll with the punches, right? 

Tenants say the high cost of rent and poor living conditions are driving some Providence renters out of their homes. 

In a city where more than half the population rents, some Providence tenants say they feel powerless when landlords raise the rent unexpectedly or neglect problems in their homes.

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Story Synopsis

In New England, the "triple decker" is a three-story apartment building, usually of wood-frame construction, with each floor consisting of one apartment. 

CREATIVE COMMONS 2.0 LICENSE VIA FLICKR

A shortage of houses on the Rhode Island market paired with high demand drove single-family home prices to a median of $275,000 in June,   according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

Victor Casale / Creative Commons License via flickr

The Providence Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meets Thursday. The group is expected to consider changes to policy that bars housing applicants with criminal convictions. Advocates say current policy is unfair.

RIPR FILE

Affordable housing programs could see their federal support drastically reduced, if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget passes. That would mean millions of dollars in aid lost for the Ocean State.

Just a few weeks remain until 2017, a year bound to be filled with political drama. Thanks for stopping by for my weekly column. As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

RIPR file photo

More than 9,000 people have signed up for subsidized housing vouchers through a waitlist that opened just a few days ago. The Providence Housing Authority waitlist last opened in 1998.

The Providence Housing Authority is opening the wait list for Section 8 housing for the first timesince 1998. The list typically holds thousands of people.

The Section 8 voucher program allows residents to find their own rental housing and get a portion of the cost paid by the Providence Housing Authority.

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CHUCK: Rhode Islanders head to the polls in a few short weeks to vote in the presidential election and decide several local races and ballot questions. One of those questions is whether to invest  $50 million dollars into affordable housing. The bond is question seven on the November ballot, and Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender joins us now with more details. Good morning John.

JOHN: Hey Chuck.

CHUCK: So John, voters approved similar bonds for affordable housing in 2009 and 2012, worth a combined roughly $73 million. What happened to that money? 

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The head of the U.S. department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro, makes a stop in the Ocean State today. Castro is working to raise awareness of efforts to prevent lead poisoning.

Castro will join Senator Jack Reed on a tour of several homes in Providence, where federal funds have been used to clean up lead paint. The pair will also meet with housing officials and environmental advocates to discuss efforts to reduce lead exposure, especially among children.

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  Rhode Island has received $36 million in federal funding to help residents avoid foreclosure on their homes. The grant comes from the Hardest Hit Fund, a national program for areas most affected by the 2008 housing crash.

Barbara Fields, the director of Rhode Island Housing, says that includes cities like Providence and Central Falls and many suburban communities.

“Whether one lives in Coventry, Cumberland or Tiverton, there’s assistance,” said Fields. “And we will work with them to see what we may be able to provide them.”

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Rhode Island ranks among the bottom for affordable rents nationwide. That’s according to a new report out from the National Low Income Housing Coalition – a D.C. based housing advocacy group.

Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless director Jim Ryczek said it takes nearly double the state’s minimum wage to comfortably afford the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

John Bender / RIPR

A program designed to combat foreclosed, blighted properties in Providence is drawing the ire of some local residents. 

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