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Learn about RIHousing, including Featured News, Key Projects, and The Team.
RIHousing is a self-supporting public agency created by the General Assembly in 1973 to provide financing to increase the supply of affordable housing for families with low or moderate incomes.
Pursuant to its enabling legislation, RIHousing is authorized to issue bonds and other obligations to fulfill its corporate purpose. In addition to its bond programs, the corporation administers the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program, the HOME Investments Partnership Program, the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, as well as other state and federal programs.
The corporation supports its staff and operating expenses through bond fund earnings, federal grant administration fees and interest income. RIHousing does not receive state appropriations for its operating budget.
Celebrate New Homes in Burrillville**
Providence, RI – RIHousing, Rhode Island’s housing finance agency, has been selected as the recipient of two national awards for program excellence from the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). The awards recognize RIHousing’s collaborative efforts to reduce energy and energy costs for low and moderate income renters and protect renters from discrimination based on income.
“It is an honor to win these national awards from our peers who understand that solving housing issues at a state-level is often a multi-faceted, multi-agency endeavor,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “While RIHousing was singled out for this recognition, both our ZEOS program and advocacy to enact source of income discrimination protection would not have been possible without the key collaboration and partnership of state and local partners.”
The NCSHA Annual Awards for Program Excellence identify and elevate industry best practices as well as encourage continued HFA innovation. In 2022, 40 HFAs submitted entries to the awards program which were presented at NCSHA’s 51st Annual Conference in October.
RIHousing was recognized with a ‘Multifamily Management’ award for the Zero Energy for the Ocean State (ZEOS) pilot program, a public-sector partnership between RIHousing, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) and RI Energy (formerly National Grid) to explore innovative, replicable solutions to utilize cost saving, clean energy technologies in homes. Announced in 2019, the ZEOS program provides funding for the creation of highly energy efficient housing for low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders. To date, the ZEOS program has provided $1,365,000 for the development of 138 units across 8 development projects.
“As we come to understand the impact of climate change, we recognize housing’s contribution to greenhouse emissions and seek to create a smarter model for the construction of homes,” said Carol Ventura. “This program allows us to support renewable energy efforts, but also ensures that Rhode Island families have access to energy and cost-efficient housing options.”
The award for ‘State Advocacy’ recognizes the agency’s efforts to advocate for the passage of the Fair Housing Practices Act that provides protection against Source of Income discrimination in housing. As a member of the Income Discrimination Coalition, a broad cross-sector coalition of over 40 organizations, RIHousing co-facilitated and led the implementation of a grassroots advocacy campaign. This advocacy effort documented the scope of Source of Income discrimination, shared compelling multi-media materials to engage policymakers and helped Rhode Island become the 16th state in the nation to pass legislation to protect Section 8 voucher holders from this form of discrimination.
“As we work to create innovative, energy-efficient homes, it is equally important to ensure that Rhode Island families have fair and equitable access to them,” said Ventura. “We thank the many partners and allies that worked with us and state leaders to ensure that legal protections against source of income discrimination became law.”
For information on the ZEOS pilot program, visit www.rihousing.com/rihousing-oer-announce-request-for-proposals-for-green-energy-efficient-housing/. For information on the Fair Housing Practices Act, visit www.rihousing.com/wp-content/uploads/SOI-Information-Sheet-4-29-21.pdf
Burillville, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined Housing Secretary Josh Saal, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley (NWBRV), RIHousing, funding and community partners, and new homeowners to celebrate the completion of Phase III and start of construction for Phase IV at the Fernwood ‘Mutual Self-Help’ Housing Development in Burrillville.
“A good neighbor will let you borrow a hammer. A great neighbor will help build your house!” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Banking Committee and a strong Congressional backer of both the USDA Mutual Self-Help Program and HOME funding. “Housing affordability is a real issue right now and we’ve got to address it from every angle. With federal support, expertise from RIHousing and NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, and a priceless amount of sweat equity, these Pascoag families worked together to build their own homes, assist their neighbors, and build a wonderful neighborhood.”
Built, in part, by the homeowners themselves to preserve affordability, Fernwood is the development of a 30-unit homeownership neighborhood located in the village of Pascoag. Being developed in four phases, with the first three phases complete, to date, Fernwood has created 22 homeownership opportunities for families. Fernwood Phase III has recently been completed and is occupied by homeowners while Fernwood IV is set to break ground.
“Rising housing costs have pushed homeownership out of reach for too many Rhode Island families. Federal investment supported the Fernwood development, which pairs interested families with construction professionals to build their own homes,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Innovative developments like this one increase affordable housing options while forging a sense of community among neighbors.”
The multi-phase development has been supported via USDA Rural Development’s unique ‘Mutual Self Help Housing’ program. The program gives qualified first-time homebuyers the opportunity to work under the supervision of a construction manager to help build their own homes. Families work in teams, committing to 30 to 35 hours of work each week to building each other’s homes until the development is complete. This ‘sweat equity’ cuts the cost of each home nearly in half, making the dream of homeownership affordable for low- to moderate-income families.
“The Fernwood Development is a great example of how neighbors can come together through innovative partnerships and create affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal. “I commend NeighborWorks and its partners for helping us reach yet another milestone in this important development, which could not happen without the continued support of our federal and state officials. Most importantly, I congratulate each of the first-time homeowners who put much love and labor into building this wonderful community.”
”The homes at Fernwood are located on individual lots within a cul-de-sac neighborhood on George Eddy Drive off of Reservoir Road in the village of Pascoag in Burrillville. Each home includes three bedrooms, 1.5 baths and is set on 1/3 of an acre of land within the development. The houses are designed to reflect the character of historic homes in the area. In addition to physically building their homes, homeowners choose the color and style of their house (Saltbox or Early American) prior to construction. They select the layout, the colors, and finishes, making their houses truly their own.
“NeighborWorks is excited to offer the sweat equity model of affordable homeownership in Rhode Island” shares Joe Garlick, Executive Director of NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley. “It is not for the faint hearted, but for those who are able to put in the time and effort, this is a great opportunity to own their own. The “Selfies” are the State’s frontline affordable housing do-ers. We celebrate them for their grit and determination to put a roof over their heads. We also acknowledge the support of our Federal, State & local partners who make it all possible with the financing and other financial support.”
According to the HousingWorks RI 2021 Fact Book, the median single-family home price in 2020 in Burrillville was $300,000, an increase of 32% since 2015. Given rising interest rates and limited housing stock, NWBRV’s Self-Help Housing program at Fernwood is one program keeping homeownership within reach. The homes are restricted to households earning between 50% to 80% of AMI (Area Median Income).
The development was funded through USDA Mutual Self-Help program funds, the federal HOME program, the Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) state bond referendum, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston’s affordable housing program (AHP), RIHousing’s Homeownership Investment Fund (HIF) program and funding from Neighborworks America and LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). The property was held in RIHousing’s Land Bank while financing was secured.
“Celebrating newly constructed affordable homes for first-time homebuyers is a big deal,” said James Comer, Deputy Director of RIHousing. “Today, we are celebrating more than the completion of construction on these new homes. We are celebrating the families who recently moved into the homes they worked so hard to build, achieving their dreams of homeownership. Working together, utilizing innovative funding programs, and bringing together federal, state, local, for and non-profit partners we can open the doors to homeownership for even more Rhode Islanders.”
The development stands on roughly 14 acres, preserving the surrounding open space. The site allows residents to live in a rural setting, with all the amenities of downtown Pascoag nearby. The new structures are Energy Star rated, built to conserve water, and feature renewable materials. Fernwood was awarded a 2019 Outstanding Smart Growth Project Award from Grow Smart RI for its compact design and preservation of natural resources and open space. It’s location, particularly quiet and without streetlights, illustrates its commitment to these design principles.
“The experience has been so wonderful for my partner Cindy and me,” share June Degre, Fernwood III builder and homeowners. “We never thought we’d be able to build or afford our own home. It’s been hard work, but beyond well worth it. I highly recommend this program.”
preserving important piece of state’s heritage
Providence, RI – Governor Dan McKee, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Congressman Jim Langevin, Rhode Island Housing and state and local leaders today announced the beginning of the redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the historic Arctic Mill into rental housing and commercial space. The Arctic Mill development is the adaptive reuse of two separate historic textile mill buildings into a mixed-use complex comprised of both commercial space and residential rental apartments.
“As Rhode Island continues to lead the region in economic recovery, the Arctic Mill project promises to increase our state’s affordable and market-rate and housing supply while creating good paying jobs in the construction and aligned trades all while reinvigorating one of Rhode Island’s historic mills” said Governor Dan McKee. “For Rhode Island to be an attractive place to live, work, and raise a family, we must address the availability and quality of housing – that means everything from providing supports to those experiencing homelessness, to increasing affordable housing, to ensuring we build more workforce housing for our middle-class families. Our Administration’s quarter-billion-dollar housing proposal currently before the General Assembly will allow Rhode Island to do more projects like this and create much needed housing options at all levels.”
“This is about preserving our history, investing in the future, and revitalizing neighborhoods. I’m pleased that this project will utilize federal investments to breathe new life into this historic property and do so in a way that will ensure more working families can afford a place to live and new businesses can find a place to thrive,” said Senator Reed.
“Creating more affordable housing options for working Rhode Island families is essential to economic growth and development throughout Rhode Island,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “The transformation taking place at Arctic Mill is a win-win for our state as it’s expanding rental housing options while also preserving a significant piece of our state’s history.”
Located along the Pawtuxet River in West Warwick, the 19th century Arctic Mill is currently being rehabilitated by Knight Street Capital, the developer responsible for the recent rehabilitation of Pontiac Mills in Warwick. The redevelopment effort will produce a total of 136 rental units, 105 which will be market rate and 31 for households earning up 100% of Area Median Income (AMI). Once completed, the development will also feature 10,000 square feet of office and retail space, including an onsite brew pub.
The funding for Arctic Mill comes from various sources, including Federal Historic Tax Credits, RIHousing’s Workforce Housing Loan, the Rebuild RI Tax Credit program, and developer equity. The total development cost is $32.7 million. Administered by Commerce RI, the RebuildRI Tax Credit program provides gap financing for commercial office, industrial, residential, mixed-use development, ground-up construction, and historic rehab, offering redeemable tax credits covering up to 20% – and, in some cases, 30% – of project costs. The state program helps qualified developers and business owners close financing gaps in projects that promise to deliver economic development benefits. The Rebuild Rhode Island tax credit is not paid out until the project has received a certificate of occupancy and then is paid out over 5 years.
“Adaptive reuse projects like Artic Mill exemplify the mix of creativity and determination needed to push the needle forward and address the shortage of units in communities across the State,” said Deputy Secretary of Housing Josh Saal. “The rehabilitation of this facility into a mixed-use, mixed-income development will assure we will create the housing infrastructure needed to ensure our communities continue to economically thrive, while paying homage to our State’s industrial history.”
“West Warwick is proud of our historic industrial past,” said West Warwick Town Manager Colonel Mark Knott. “Many of our residents remember working and growing up in the surrounding neighborhood, raising families, supporting one another and creating a tight-knit community in its shadows. The renovation of the property ensures this over 150 year old structure will play an important role in our town’s future.”
Built in 1865 using the stone walls of an earlier mill structure built in 1852 on the site, the main mill building sits alongside a stone dam on the Pawtuxet River in the Arctic section of West Warwick. In 1885, the property was bought by B. B. & R. Knight, who operated 35,824 spindles and 1,039 looms in the mill. The mill continued to be used for textile manufacture into the 20th century before being used by NATCO Products Corporation, which occupied the mill until recently. A second building on the site, a former guardhouse will be renovated for commercial use.
“It’s an exciting day to celebrate what will be a true transformation of this historic property,” said Larry Phillips, Knight Street Capital. “We recognize that Rhode Islanders need a range of housing options and at different price points. The homes we are creating here will meet a growing demand for both market rate and middle-income housing.”
RIHousing’s Workforce Housing program seeks to expand the range of housing options available in Rhode Island by addressing the affordable housing needs of a segment of the state’s population who are increasingly caught in the gap between rising market rents and ineligibility for other affordably assisted housing.
“There is a growing awareness of the challenges facing middle-income workers. Today’s high demand paired with low supply has driven housing prices up and out of reach for many middle-income workers, and many local governments are exploring and implementing strategies to stimulate the creation of workforce housing,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The WHIC program is one important tool that helps respond to the need for middle-income housing by filling a growing and significant gap in a tight housing market of rising rents that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The new rental homes will help meet the need for rental options in the central part of the state. The property’s central location provides easy access to major highways as well as public transportation, shopping, recreational and educational facilities. Once completed, the property will include a variety of amenities including media rooms, a boxing gym, breakout rooms and more. The architects for the project are Urban Design Group, LLC.