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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.
Providence, RI – RIHousing, the state’s principal housing agency, has been selected as recipient of a national award for program innovation by the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA). The award for ‘Rental Housing: Encouraging New Construction’ honors RIHousing’s Workforce Housing Innovation Challenge (WHIC) Program, which seeks to expand the range of housing options for Rhode Islanders.
“To win such a prestigious national award is an incredible honor, especially as it comes from our peers who understand the challenges faced when working to create housing at a range of price points,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The WHIC financing addresses 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. Creating more affordable housing options for working Rhode Island families is essential to economic growth and development throughout Rhode Island.”
RIHousing’s WHIC program seeks to expand the range of housing options available in Rhode Island through the creation of rental homes for households earning up to 120% area median income (AMI), or $103,800 for a family of four in Providence. The term ‘workforce housing’ is most often used to indicate a program targeted at households that earn too much to qualify for traditional affordable housing subsidies typically limited to households at 60% or 80% of AMI.
In many cities across the country, it is increasingly difficult for middle-income workers (teachers, healthcare professionals, municipal employees, etc.) to buy or rent housing in the areas in which they work. This is due to both a lack of available housing options and wages not keeping up with the increased costs of living. Currently, the state’s housing stock and building activity aren’t adequately addressing the 80% – 120% AMI housing market.
“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 is being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
To date, RIHousing has rolled out two funding cycles, receiving a total of 19 proposals requesting $25 million in financing. More than $9 million in WHIC funds have been awarded to six developments, helping to create 394 total units, 112 of which are considered ‘workforce’ homes.
The competitors for the national awards, which are given out annually at NCSHA’s national conference, were each of the 50 states’ Housing Finance Agencies plus four territories and districts. The NCSHA Annual Awards for Program Excellence was created to identify and elevate industry best practices as well as encourage continued Housing Finance Agency (HFA) innovation. In 2021, 33 HFAs submitted entries to the awards program. Awards were presented at NCSHA’s 50th Annual Conference, held virtually in September.
Providence, RI – RIHousing announced today that the RentReliefRI program has approved over $50 million in rental and utility assistance funds to almost 4,600 renter households. The federally-funded program serves as a lifeline for struggling Rhode Island renters and provides up to 18 months of rental and utility assistance for tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding also includes over $16 million in new commitments to low- and moderate-income customer electricity and gas utility bills.
“I worked hard to make these federal rent relief funds available to help Rhode Islanders facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I commend RIHousing for accelerating efforts to get these funds out the door to prevent evictions and keep people stably housed,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, who helped include $200 million for Rhode Islanders through the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (P.L. 116-260) as well as $152 million in additional ERA funding for Rhode Islanders in the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2).
“I am pleased that we are celebrating this important milestone and that thousands of Rhode Island households can go to bed tonight with one less worry,” said Governor Dan McKee. “It is critical we keep our foot on the gas and continue recent efforts to distribute these funds to those most in need. Rhode Island renter households are relying on this lifeline to keep them housed this winter and landlords rely on these funds to help them meet their financial responsibilities. Utilizing these federal resources as effectively and strategically as possible will help Rhode Island and Rhode Islanders come out of this pandemic stronger.”
Funded via the U.S. Treasury, RentReliefRI has undergone significant changes in recent weeks to create a more streamlined application and review process. On August 26, Treasury released guidance providing additional flexibility for these federal funds and in response, RentReliefRI staff developed streamlined application and review processes. The combination of changes to the application and review process and expanded partner outreach and application assistance have resulted in dramatic increases in the number and amount of approvals.
“The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact Rhode Islanders across the state,” said RI House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi. “Rhode Island renters have felt the brunt of job losses, financial hardship and housing instability due to the pandemic. RentReliefRI funds offer an opportunity for us to help families get back on track and stay in their homes. These recent changes will allow us to help even more families remain in their homes.”
Launched in March of this year, the program provides financial assistance to cover rent arrears, forward facing rent, utility arrears and certain other housing expenses. Eligible renter households must be at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), which translates into roughly $69,200 annual income for a family of four in most parts of the State. Applicants may apply for help with paying for utilities even if they do not need help paying for rent and there is no monthly cap on eligible rent relief.
“I’m excited that the streamlined process has resulted in improvement in finally getting this available assistance into the hands of Rhode Islanders in need,” said RI Senate President Dominick Ruggerio. “This important milestone demonstrates that increased cooperation can improve results for everyday Rhode Islanders. It’s imperative that we continue working together to ensure these dollars are distributed efficiently to keep families in their homes this winter.
Of the $50 million in approved assistance, over $19.4 million has been approved to cover rental arrearages while over $10 million has been awarded for future rental payments. To date $2.7 million has been awarded and an additional $16 million has been committed to cover electricity and gas utility arrearages, because of a collaboration between RentReliefRI and National Grid. The assistance will reduce or clear the utility arrearages of many low- and moderate-income customers, helping these households get back on track from the effects of the pandemic.
“We are proud to be working alongside RIHousing to get these critical funds into the hands of Rhode Island customers,” said Brian Schuster, Director of Customer and Community Management at National Grid. “This innovative joint venture can help to keep the lights and heat on for thousands of Rhode Island renter households.”
Recent changes to the program application requirements and review process have helped to streamline the approval process and get more funds out the door. Weekly funding approvals averaged $500,000 in June 2021, increasing to $2 million by August and are now averaging $1 million/day in approvals. The average assistance approved per household is $7,678.
“Updated guidance from the U.S. Treasury offers us the opportunity to be flexible in assisting more Rhode Island renters, and assisting them more quickly,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing, the agency charged with administering the program. “RIHousing is committed to continuing our efforts alongside state and community partners to respond to the housing challenges facing Rhode Island families.”
Available statewide, to date, the top ten municipalities based on funding approvals are: Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Cranston, North Providence, Central Falls, West Warwick, Warwick, East Providence, Johnston. Program data illustrates that of the approved applications, 63% of applicants represent minority populations. National Grid customers will still be required to provide an attestation of eligibility to RIHousing to have the assistance funds credited to their account.
Complete details and information on the status of program applications and funding approvals is available online at www.rihousing.com/rent-relief-ri-dashboard/.
Providence, RI — RIHousing has been awarded just over $112,000 in funds from NeighborWorks America’s new Housing Stability Counseling Program (HSCP) to help Rhode Island homeowners facing foreclosure and housing instability. The HSCP aims to help eligible nonprofits and agencies provide direct housing counseling services to individuals and families facing housing instability, such as foreclosure and homelessness.
“These funds come at a critical time for Rhode Island families,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Many Rhode Island homeowners are struggling to make their mortgage payments as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and forbearance protections for many homeowners will soon be expiring.”
Funded via the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, NeighborWorks America designed the HSCP for nationwide implementation, making more than $88 million in funding awards to 131 organizations. There was a very high demand for HSCP funds as NeighborWorks received grant requests totaling over $348 million, more than 4 times the amount of funding available. RIHousing is one of only 18 state Housing Finance Agencies (HFAs) to be awarded funding from this new program.
RIHousing will use the funding to provide counseling services to Rhode Island homeowners via the agency’s HelpCenter. Funding will support additional staffing and outreach to underserved and low-income homeowners. More information on the HSCP can be found here.
“The RIHousing HelpCenter has been an important resource for Rhode Island homeowners since its opening in 2007,” noted Ventura. “Since that time, HelpCenter counselors have helped thousands of families remain in their homes and we will be able to expand our reach with these critical funds.”
Rhode Island homeowners will soon have a new mortgage assistance program available to them with the upcoming launch of RIHousing’s Homeowner Assistance Fund Program (HAF-RI). Once launched, eligible homeowners struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic can apply for financial assistance for a range of housing-related expenses including: mortgage arrearages, monthly mortgage payments, principal reduction and other housing-related expenses such as utilities, flood or mortgage insurance, property taxes, homeowner association fees, and condominium association fees. Homeowners can visit www.HAF-RI.com to sign up for updates on the HAF-RI program, including the program launch date.