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July 8, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Awards Funding from Workforce Housing Innovation Challenge

Investments will expand range of housing options for more Rhode Islanders

Providence, RI – RIHousing has approved awards for the creation of workforce housing under the agency’s Workforce Housing Innovation Challenge (WHIC) program at its June Board meeting. The awards will help build or preserve 301 rental units, of which 74 will be workforce-assisted units, at developments in Providence and West Warwick.

“Creating more housing options at a range of price points that Rhode Island families can afford is essential to economic growth and development throughout the state,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I’m pleased these awards will help build and preserve 300 units of much needed housing in our state.”

RIHousing’s Workforce Housing Innovation Challenge (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. 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.

“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” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The WHIC financing addresses the affordable housing needs of a segment of the state’s workforce, who are increasingly caught in the gap between rising market rents and ineligibility for other affordably assisted housing.”

Currently, the state’s housing stock and building activity aren’t adequately addressing the 80% – 120% AMI housing market. Like many states, in Rhode Island most new unrestricted housing has been built in the ‘luxury’ segment of the market and housing targeted to people who cannot afford ‘luxury’ rents has typically only been built when subsidies were available. However, subsidies are almost always reserved for units that serve families with incomes below 60% of AMI, about $43,260 for a family of four in Providence. Households who need workforce housing may not always qualify for subsidized housing.

In January of 2021, RIHousing issued a Request for Proposals for WHIC Program funds, the second round of funding for the program. The initial round provided $3.4 million in funds to two developments in Providence to assist the construction of 93 rental units, 38 of which are workforce assisted. The second round provides $5.9 million to four proposals.

Funded developments include:

  • Studley Building, Providence: Substantial rehabilitation of an existing building; will retain commercial use on ground floor while creating 65 rental housing units on floors two through six. There will be 14 workforce units comprised of two one-bedroom and 12 studio apartments. The workforce units will be restricted to 100% AMI.
  • Arctic Mill, West Warwick: Adaptive reuse of two separate historic textile mill buildings built in 1854 into a mixed-use complex comprised of both commercial space and residential rental apartments. The existing mill complex is situated along the Pawtuxet River in West Warwick, Rhode Island. 105 of the units will be rented at market rates, which are estimated at 98% AMI and 31 workforce units will be restricted to 80% AMI.
  • Strive Lofts, Providence: Located in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence, includes the rehabilitation of an existing mill building with 56 residential units and two commercial suites with a ground floor parking garage. Twenty (20) WHIC units will be rented to tenants between 80% and 100% AMI and the remaining 36 units will be market rate.
  • Case Mead, Providence: Restricting nine existing market rate units as workforce housing in a currently occupied mixed-use building located in downtown Providence. The building was rehabbed in 2018 into a mixed-use building with ground floor retail and residential units on the upper floors. Seven (7) studio units and two one-bedroom units will be designated as eligible workforce housing units.
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June 30, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Launches Pilot Program during National Homeownership Month

Program provides educational and financial resources to help homeowners succeed

Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced the launch of a new pilot program that provides a pathway to sustainable homeownership for first-time buyers. RIHousing’s HomeSecure Grant program offers educational and financial resources to support new homeowners and is offered in conjunction with a RIHousing mortgage. The program features a robust financial literacy program via a network of partner agencies as well as access to an emergency fund reserve to assist borrowers in the first three years of owning a home.

“RIHousing doesn’t just help people buy a home, we also provide the tools and resources to help buyers keep the home they worked so hard to obtain,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “New homeowners can have unexpected emergencies that make it difficult to make their mortgage payments. This new program helps prepare buyers to become successful homeowners and also acts as a ‘safety net’ if needed.”

The intent of the grant program is to encourage homeownership for first-time homebuyers and ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to credit and a stable and affordable primary residence. The grant provides an emergency fund reserve in the amount of three months of mortgage payments (Principal, Interest, Taxes and Insurance) for a period of three years from the closing on the first mortgage loan. Homeowners can access the reserve funds to make their mortgage payment(s) if they experience an emergency and/or temporary short-term event during the term of the grant.

“The grant program provides emergency funds to ensure homeowners have adequate money available in the event of an unforeseen financial outlay,” said Peter Pagonis, RIHousing’s Director of Homeownership. “Coupled with an extensive homebuyer and financial literacy curriculum, the reserve funds are a critical resource in helping homeowners avoid mortgage delinquency.”

The program is being rolled out in partnership with a network of partners who provide pre-purchase homebuyer education and financial literacy courses. Grant recipients must meet certain eligibility requirements and income limits in order to qualify for a mortgage loan via the RIHousing Loan Center.

Grant recipients must also:

  • Complete a Financial Literacy Course offered by a designated RIHousing Community Partner prior to applying for the first mortgage loan;
  • Be a first-time homebuyer;
  • Have income that does not exceed $97,646 for a 1-2-person household or $112,393 for a 3 or more-person household;
  • Complete RIHousing’s Post Purchase Counseling prior to the first payment due date for the first mortgage loan; and
  • Enroll in RIHousing’s automatic mortgage debit payment program.

“Financial literacy is key to successful homeownership,” said Ventura. “Partner agencies will help prospective buyers understand the importance of budgeting, examining their spending habits, how to purchase and finance a home, and how to plan for their financial future.”

Interested homebuyers should begin by reaching out to one of the partner agencies offering the homebuyer education/financial literacy courses: Community Action Partnership of Providence County; Financial Opportunity Center in Providence; Pawtucket Central Falls Development; Providence Housing Authority; SWAP, Inc. and West Elmwood Housing Development Corp.

Program details and contact information for each partner agency can be found online at www.RIHousing.com/Home-Secure.

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June 28, 2021

Press Release
Elected Officials and Partners Celebrate New Affordable Apartments in Smithfield

Ribbon cutting celebrates 42 new rental homes

Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Congressman David Cicilline, Governor Daniel McKee, and Smithfield Town Manager Randy Rossi joined leaders from Smithfield Housing Authority, Coventry Housing Associates, RIHousing and funding and community partners today to celebrate the completion of new rental homes in Smithfield.

“I’m proud to have been part of the public-private partnership that revitalized this former iron foundry site into beautiful, affordable homes. From planning to development to remediation work to infrastructure upgrades and construction, this project was a true team effort that was many years in the making and will be a tremendous community asset for many years to come. I salute the Town of Smithfield, the Smithfield Housing Authority, Coventry Housing Associates, Gemini Housing Corporation, RIHousing, and many others who made this project a reality. There is a real need for quality, affordable housing and this development offers so much for residents who call it home as well as a blueprint for successful revitalization and building stronger, healthier communities,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “I also want to salute the development architect for this project, the late John Robinson, whose vision was realized here and whose legacy of service includes many contributions, including as a member of the United States Air Force.”

“These beautiful new homes are providing more Rhode Islanders with safe and affordable housing and a great place to raise a family. Affordable housing is key for expanding opportunity and economic growth,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “These new units are helping more Rhode Island families achieve that important goal.”

Located in the heart of the historic village of Georgiaville, a mill village along the Woonasquatucket River in Smithfield, Georgiaville Village Green has successfully remediated a brownfield site while introducing much-needed affordable, family housing into the northern part of the state. A joint venture between Gemini Housing Corporation and Coventry Housing Associates Corporation, the development includes 42 new rental homes and has been recognized by Grow Smart RI and the RI Chapter of the American Planning Association.

“Providing safe, affordable housing to families in Rhode Island is a top priority, and it takes a team effort to make it happen,” said Governor Dan McKee. “The Georgiaville Village Green not only gives 42 families a place to call home, but it also plays an important role in the revitalization of historic Georgiaville. I am thankful to our congressional delegation as well as our housing and funding partners for coming together to complete this project.”

The 42 apartments are available to individuals and families earning less than 60% of the area median income (AMI), approximately $51,900 for a family of four. Five of the units are reserved for individuals and families earning less than 30% of the area median income.

“The Town of Smithfield is proud to be a part of the Georgiaville Village Green Project, having been awarded ‘Outstanding Smart Growth Project’ by Grow Smart RI,” said Randy Rossi, Smithfield Town Manager. “With the help of project partners Coventry Housing Associates Corporation and Gemini Housing Corporation, this neighborhood revitalization project has strengthened the community by providing affordable housing in the heart of the historic village of Georgiaville.”

The property was formerly the Narragansett Gray Iron Foundry mill site, which was demolished by the previous owner and was designated a brownfield site by the State. Site remediation was completed as part of the development.

“Affordable housing is our mission, but moving families into a place they can call home, is our passion,” said Clare Fortin, Executive Director of the Smithfield Housing Authority.

Funding for Georgiaville Village Green came from a variety of funding sources, including $7.95 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, $750,000 in Thresholds funding, a $650,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), a $200,000 grant from RIDEM, a construction loan from Citizens Bank, a first mortgage from RIHousing, and $906,000 from the state-funded Acquisition and Revitalization Program (ARP). Georgiaville Village Green was one of the first projects to make use of funds from Rhode Island’s ARP, funded via state bond funding approved by Rhode Island voters in November 2016.

“Projects such as Georgiaville Village Green provide important affordable housing options for Rhode Island residents,” said Keith Kelly, Rhode Island President, Citizens. “As a funding partner, Citizens sees this project as a great way to support the community and put the bank’s capital to good use. We would like to welcome the residents to their new homes.”

“Today we are celebrating more than the completion of 42 new rental homes,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “We are celebrating a community and the families who live here. Georgiaville is the kind of development we need more of in the state. Fortunately, we have the support from our federal, state and local leaders to make these kinds of developments a reality for more Rhode Islanders. Our families and our state will be made stronger with each new development.”

The event also included a flag raising ceremony and dedication in honor of the late John Robinson of Robinson Design, who served as the development architect for the project. Robinson passed away in February 2021 at the age of 73. He honorably served in the U.S. Airforce and was a member of the American Institute of Architects and the National Society of Professional Engineers. Members of the Robinson family were in attendance at the dedication ceremony.

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June 18, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Announces Recipients of Inaugural Michael S. Van Leesten Awards

Awards program supports and opens doors for tomorrow’s housing leaders

Providence, RI – RIHousing’s Board of Commissioners approved the Spring 2021 Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Awards at its June meeting. The awards program honors the life and work of Michael S. Van Leesten, a longtime advocate dedicated to improving the lives of Rhode Islanders through his business leadership, civil rights activism, and public service. The awards program supports students from diverse backgrounds who are pursuing academic fields or careers related to the housing industry.

“Michael’s legacy can be seen across Rhode Island and beyond,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, Chairman of the RIHousing Board of Commissioners. “These scholarship awards are ensuring his legacy lives on with the next generation of housing professionals and leaders.”

RIHousing released applications for the awards program in March 2021. A committee consisting of agency staff and Jill Van Leesten, Van Leesten’s daughter, reviewed each proposal in accordance with scoring criteria and made recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. As a result, $5,000 scholarships were approved for two students pursuing a degree related to housing. Recipients include: Temidayo “Dayo” Akinjisola, pursuing a degree from Roger Williams University School of Law, and Diana Figueroa to continue her studies at Tufts University for a Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning.

“I am deeply grateful and humbled to be a 2021 recipient of the Michael S. Van Leesten Scholarship,” said award recipient Dayo Akinjisola. “Mr. Van Leesten was a remarkable example of someone who valued truth telling, collaboration, and service, all of which I hope to exemplify throughout my law school career and beyond.”

“There is a need for local urban planners in the state of Rhode Island who are involved in the communities they work in, and acknowledge what is at stake,” said award recipient Diana L. Figueroa. “The Michael S. Van Leesten Award is bridging that gap by supporting my pursuit of obtaining a Masters in Urban Policy and Planning at Tufts University.”

Born and raised in Providence, Van Leesten was one of the founders and the Executive Director of Opportunities Industrialization Center of Rhode Island, a non-profit corporation offering career coaching, job training, and support for small businesses in urban communities. He served as the Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of RIHousing from 1987-1991 and held leadership positions with the Providence Branch of the NAACP, Urban League of Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society.

“We were excited about the quality of applications for the inaugural awards program,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Opening doors and expanding access to individuals seeking to enter the housing field is an important step in growing and supporting the next generation of leaders in Rhode Island.”

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June 8, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Supports Creation of 452 Critically-Needed Affordable Homes

Investments will address housing shortage and boost the economy

Providence, RI – RIHousing’s Board of Commissioners approved investments at its May Board meeting that will create 452 affordable homes, significantly improve the neighborhoods where they are located, and support over 500 jobs. Funding awards were approved for five developments located in Exeter, Providence, Tiverton, and Woonsocket.

“Affordable housing is a major issue for Rhode Island, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Governor Daniel McKee. “Ensuring that all Rhode Islanders have access to a safe and affordable home is critical to the success of Rhode Island families, our communities and our state. This is why I am committed to creating a permanent funding stream for the construction of affordable housing in Rhode Island.”

The developments represent a diverse range of property types, from preservation to new construction, located in rural, suburban and urban communities across the state. When constructed, these developments will provide affordable apartments to families who are currently being priced out of the rental market.

“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic reached us, Rhode Island was facing a profound housing crisis,” said RI House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi. “We cannot wait any longer to sound the alarm and make affordable housing a top legislative priority for Rhode Island. In the meantime, these investments will help alleviate the housing shortfall and affordability crisis while reinvigorating our state’s economy.”

Housing production in Rhode Island has not kept pace with the demand for affordable homes. Utilizing a variety of funding sources to attract private investment, RIHousing is working alongside developers to breathe new life into these communities while creating hundreds of well-paying jobs in the construction and allied fields.

Three of the developments received preliminary approval of more than $3.7 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the principal federal program for the construction and rehabilitation of affordable apartments. RIHousing allocates tax credits to developers of affordable apartments. Tax credits are a dollar-for-dollar credit against federal tax liability, which attracts further private investment to support housing initiatives.

“Rhode Island’s housing situation is dire and there is no ‘one size-fits-all’ solution to addressing the lack of affordable housing options,” said RI Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio. “Housing is a critical issue for residents in every city and town in Rhode Island and these investments go a long way in helping our state address the need.”

Two of the developments are located in Providence and will provide housing options for families making less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), or $51,900 for a family of four. The Joseph Caffey Apartments (the development previously known as Barbara Jordan 2 apartments) will introduce 79 affordable rental units in 11 buildings in South Providence. Braeburn Chatham Apartments will rehabilitate 91 units in two existing Section 8 developments in the city’s Wanskuck neighborhood.

Other developments include The Millrace District in Woonsocket, which entails the adaptive reuse of a historic mill complex into a mixed-use and mixed income development with 70 units of affordable housing alongside 21,439 square feet of co-office, retail, and arts fabrication space. Bourne Mill III will introduce 59 units (47 of which are affordable to households earning less than 60% AMI) of mixed-income rental housing in a single newly constructed 4-story building located on the site of the redeveloped Bourne Mill complex. Lastly, Pine View Apartments features new construction of 40 units of housing for households with incomes ranging from 30% to 60% of AMI. In addition, 2 other projects in early stages of development (Living East Bay and Riverside Townhomes) received preliminary approval for HOME and Housing Trust Fund awards.

“For almost 50 years, RIHousing has been working to provide a broad range of housing options for Rhode Islanders,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “During the pandemic, the need and demand for affordable homes rose sharply, making our work even more critical to ensuring housing is affordable to Rhode Island’s residents. Last year, RIHousing provided funding to develop and preserve more than 1,110 rental homes and we are committed to continuing our efforts to create housing options that is within financial reach of Rhode Islanders.”

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June 4, 2021

Press Release
Community Partners Celebrate Completion of Crossroads Family Housing

Project created 30 apartments for formerly homeless families as the number of local families experiencing homelessness continues to climb

Providence, RI –

U.S. Senator Jack Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Governor Daniel McKee, Lt. Governor Sabina Matos and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza joined leaders from Crossroads Rhode Island, RIHousing, the Providence Housing Authority and other community organizations today to celebrate the completion of 30 newly-renovated housing units for formerly homeless families.

“There’s nothing more heart-breaking than seeing a child have to pick up the school bus outside of a homeless shelter because of a housing shortage,” said Karen Santilli, President and CEO of Crossroads Rhode Island. “I’d like to thank our entire congressional delegation, our leaders in state government and our community partners for supporting this housing project. Ending family homelessness in Rhode Island is entirely possible given adequate funding and the creation of more housing like this that families can actually afford.”

The recently-completed project, which is the result of a partnership between Crossroads Rhode Island, RIHousing and the Providence Housing Authority, comes as the number of families experiencing homelessness in Rhode Island increased by 12 percent over the last year. Economic fallout from COVID-19, as well as a critical shortage of housing that families with very low incomes can afford, have both contributed to the rise in family homelessness.

“I created the national Housing Trust Fund to provide a dedicated source of federal funding to help increase the supply of affordable housing and I’m pleased this money is being put to good use here in Rhode Island. Investing in quality, affordable housing goes hand-in-hand with building stronger communities and smart economic development. I will continue working to deliver federal funding to Rhode Island and we must build off of the success of the Housing Trust Fund,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who created the National Housing Trust Fund in 2008.

“A parent’s ability to hold a steady job and get kids off to school on time starts with having a safe, comfortable place to call home,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “These newly renovated apartments will allow families who have experienced homelessness to get back on their feet.”

Crossroads Family Housing features 30 extensively-renovated apartments located in 14 different buildings in Providence. These homes provide permanent, safe, affordable and respectful housing for families with very low incomes who were homeless or at risk of homelessness, as well as case management and other services as needed to help these families thrive. Apartments will be affordable to households earning less than 30 percent of Area Median Income (AMI), or $29,950 for a family of four.

“A safe, suitable home is something we should never take for granted, yet so many families and children struggle to afford a place to live,” said Governor Dan McKee. “I want to thank the congressional delegation, Crossroads Rhode Island, RIHousing and the Providence Housing Authority for completing this project to give 30 families a new beginning. Rhode Island is facing a housing crisis, which is at the root of so many issues in our communities, and this is a major step towards creating a more equitable future for all Rhode Islanders.”

“Over the past 15 months, we have seen how important reliable and safe housing is for our residents,” stated Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “I want to thank the partners and funders for their hard work to leverage public and private dollars to create homes for hardworking Rhode Islanders. I firmly believe that housing is a basic human right, and I look forward to seeing more projects like this come to fruition. To our 30 families, I say, welcome home!”

The extensive renovations included new interiors, appliances, insulation, heating, exterior renovations, and handicap accessibility The work was funded by a combination of federal and state funding sources including almost $4 million in total from the federal Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) programs, $2.5 million from the state bond program Building Homes RI (BHRI), and $627,378 from the Preservation Revitalization Deferred Loan Program, which provides funding to address capital repairs.

“This project represents another milestone for an equitable housing future in Rhode Island,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “This historic investment is an important step towards a just and equitable future for our residents, and by increasing access to safe and affordable housing, we are laying out a blueprint to build a more resilient community. I am thrilled that these units will see new life as homes for families who need them most right here in Providence.”

“Creating the kinds of thoughtful, affordable and safe homes you see here today takes numerous partners, years of hard work and dedication, and funding from a variety of sources,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Every dollar of financing goes a long way to ensuring Rhode Islanders have a roof over their heads, individuals working in the construction and allied fields remain employed, neighborhoods are revitalized, and our state is made stronger.”

In addition to providing permanent supportive housing for residents, Crossroads Family Housing secured support from the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) to ensure tenants’ rent will not exceed 30% of their income. PHA has provided project-based vouchers that will subsidize 19 of the units in the project through its Section 8 funding for a twenty year period.

“This is such a challenging time for Rhode Islanders to find affordable housing, and it is particularly difficult for families who are experiencing homelessness,” said Melissa Sanzaro, Executive Director of the PHA. “We are thrilled to be able to help subsidize this project through our Project Based Voucher program and expand the availability of quality, affordable housing in the community.”

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May 24, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Funds Efforts to Bridge the Digital Divide

Awards broaden access and support digital literacy

Providence, RI –

RIHousing today announced funding awards to support innovative and long-term sustainable projects to increase internet access for low- and moderate-income households across the state. The agency’s new “Bridging the Digital Divide” (“Digital Divide”) program provides financial resources to eligible organizations and municipalities in support of initiatives to bridge the digital divide.

“While there are a number of initiatives to broaden access and remove barriers, there are still gaps in access to high-speed internet,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “We recognize that high-speed internet access is now considered a key utility and sought proposals that will provide low-and-moderate income Rhode Island residents with free or low-cost, long-term access to the internet as well as digital capacity and literacy.”

RIHousing issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for awards of Digital Divide funding in February 2021. A total of $250,000 in funding, with a maximum award amount of $75,000 per grant, was made available. The agency received proposals from 20 applicants representing service organizations, housing developers, public housing authorities, municipalities, a university, and privately owned entities. Funding requests received totaled $969,904.

“The COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerated the shift to online services, making digital access a necessity for participation in society and economic well-being,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at RIHousing. “Disparities in broadband access can have adverse economic and social consequences on those left behind. Award recipients presented innovative and creative programs that will empower Rhode Islanders all across the state to take advantage of new opportunities and compete in the knowledge economy.”

Applications were evaluated on the proposed population served, need in the community, program sustainability, partnerships, organizational capacity, and program innovation, as well as several other key metrics. Program grant terms are for one year.

The following organizations were approved for funding by the RIHousing Board of Commissioners at its May Board meeting:

  • City of Central Falls: $50,000, Mobile hot spots and payment for hot spots, Central Falls
  • NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley: $75,000, Outdoor public WiFi; upgraded hardware for youth centers; devices, WiFi and digital literacy for seniors, Northern Rhode Island
  • Newport Housing Authority: $75,000, Expanded WiFi for public housing residents, Newport
  • University of Rhode Island: $50,000, Devices and digital literacy via URI students for seniors, East Greenwich, Jamestown, Newport, North Kingstown, North Smithfield, South Kingstown, Providence

The program represents RIHousing’s commitment to helping Rhode Islanders and complements existing initiatives from cable providers, the state and non-profit community to provide tablets and hot spots and improve internet use and digital literacy.

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May 1, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing & OER Announce Request for Proposals for Green & Energy Efficient Housing

Providence, RI – RIHousing and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) will be releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) on May 26 for the 2021 Zero Energy for the Ocean State (ZEOS) Program. This program offers up to $750,000 in grants to design and construct affordable, energy efficient housing to serve low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders.

This program is the result of a public-private partnership between RIHousing, OER and National Grid to stimulate innovative, replicable solutions that utilize cost saving, clean energy technologies in homes. Program partners are seeking proposals from qualified teams to design and construct affordable, energy efficient Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs) that use technologies such as solar, storage, and electric heat pumps, and enable demand response participation.

“This multi-agency investment will create replicable models for sustainability across our state,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director at RIHousing. “RIHousing is committed to developing housing that Rhode Islanders can afford. The energy efficient features in these homes will result in reduced energy costs for residents, thereby increasing their disposable income to meet other expenses.”

Zero Energy Buildings are defined as any energy-efficient building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by a building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

This new grant funding is being made available following a successful first round of ZEOS in 2019 that resulted in the funding of three projects with a variety of income requirements and innovative designs. Of those projects, Sheridan Small Homes, developed by ONE Neighborhood Builders, is currently constructing a community of five affordable passive-house units.

“As Rhode Island works to meet its net-zero emissions target by 2050, the state must continue to lead the nation in developing cost-effective, clean energy solutions that reduce energy consumption and costs, shrink our carbon footprint, and grow good-paying jobs. The ZEOS project builds upon the momentum of recent successes in growing our green energy economy, while also expanding affordable housing for Rhode Islanders,” said State Energy Commissioner Nicholas Ucci.

The Request for Proposals will be publicly posted on the RIHousing website https://www.rihousing.com/rfps-rfqs/ on May 26. Eligible units may be new construction and/or renovation projects in 1-4 family or multifamily homes. The ZEOS grant award will be limited to $15,000 per unit for 1-4 family properties and $6,000 per unit for multifamily developments. Buildings must meet ZEB standards and participate in National Grid’s Residential New Construction Program. The total award cannot exceed $250,000 for any individual project. Previously funded ZEOS projects are not eligible for this grant.

“We look forward to supporting the 2021 ZEOS initiative to further accelerate the adoption of net zero energy homes for the affordable housing market in Rhode Island,” said Chris Porter, Director, Customer Energy Management, National Grid. “The principles of this grant – to create replicable designs incorporating strategies to reduce energy cost burdens, improve thermal comfort, and support the clean energy future – are critical to ensuring a reliable, equitable and scalable pathway to decarbonization for all Rhode Islanders.”

This program will leverage multiple sources of funding, including a grant from RIHousing, state Renewable Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) proceeds, and available utility-administered incentives. While individual homeowners are not eligible to receive direct funding under this grant, individual organizations or teams composed of a lead organization and partner organizations are welcome to apply. Complete details on the program and RFP can be found online at: www.rihousing.com.

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March 2, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Opens Sign-Up for RIers Interested in New Rental Assistance Program

Tenants and Landlords Encouraged to Sign up for Program Information

Providence, RI –

RIHousing today announced the launch of a new webpage and sign up form for Rhode Island renters and landlords interested in the state’s new rental assistance program. RentReliefRI is the agency’s new rent relief program scheduled to be rolled out at the end of March. Interested applicants can sign up now to receive email notifications once a launch date has been announced.

Funded via $200 million in rent relief funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program, the new rental assistance program known as RentReliefRI will help eligible Rhode Island renters struggling to pay their rent or utilities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 crisis continues to impact Rhode Islanders across the state,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “These new federal funds will help struggling renters remain in their homes.”

Previous rental assistance programs known as HousingHelp RI and Safe Harbor have expended all of their available funding and have closed. Those renters who previously applied for rental assistance through those programs but did not receive assistance due to lack of funding, will be prioritized in this new program.

When the new program launches later this month, applicants will be able to sign up for assistance using an online portal. Assistance completing applications will be available via a network of partners throughout the state. Interested tenants and landlords may sign up to receive email alerts for when the program launches. Program information, eligibility criteria and the sign up for e-alerts can be found online at: www.RentReliefRI.com.

“We understand the urgency and the need for help and are working to launch the program and to provide Rhode Islanders with the help they need,” said Ventura. “In the meantime, we encourage both tenants and landlords to go online, sign up for our email notifications, and review the information and eligibility criteria so they can be as prepared as possible when the program launches.”

This program is only for renters and their landlords. It does not provide assistance to homeowners having difficulty making their mortgage payments.

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February 25, 2021

Press Release
POAH and RIHousing recapitalize two senior affordable developments in Narragansett

Nonprofit developer and RIHousing recapitalize two senior affordable developments in Narragansett

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), a nonprofit affordable housing developer with 12 properties in Rhode Island, has closed on a second stage tax credit recapitalization for two senior communities in Narragansett with the support of tax-exempt bonds issued by RIHousing. The two senior housing communities – South Winds Apartments and Beachwood Apartments – are located a half mile apart, just blocks from the Narragansett sound.

The properties comprise 104, one- and two-bedroom apartments that were originally preserved by POAH in 2004. As part of the recapitalization, the two properties will be combined under one common ownership, renamed Beachwinds Apartments, and undergo a $9 million renovation program. By combining the two properties, POAH and its management company subsidiary, POAH Communities, will achieve operational efficiencies and maximize the dollars invested in renovations.

POAH has engaged Union Studio Architecture and Community Design and Pariseault Builders, two local Rhode Island partners, as the architect and general contractor for the $9M renovation. The rehabilitation scope includes apartment upgrades, building systems replacements, siding and roofing improvements, and site repairs all with a focus on energy efficiency and long-term stewardship of the properties.

RIHousing is providing the tax-exempt bond financing of $17.5M with Boston Financial contributing $12.1M in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.

“We are grateful to RIHousing and Boston Financial for partnering with us to substantially upgrade these affordable housing properties and to improve the quality of life for our residents who call them home. This will help to ensure the long-term affordability of these properties in the face of growing housing needs in Rhode Island,” said Aaron Gornstein, POAH President and CEO. “We also appreciate the strong support from the Rhode Island Congressional delegation for boosting funding for affordable housing programs, including the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which made this possible,” Gornstein said.

“Rhode Island’s senior population is growing, and housing affordability poses a substantial barrier to those wanting to age in their community,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The renovations at Beachwinds Apartments ensure these rental homes remain affordable, safe and healthy for seniors for years to come.”

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February 9, 2021

Press Release
RIHousing Launches New Program to Bridge the Digital Divide

New grant program seeks innovative programs and partners

Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced the availability of funding to support innovative and long-term sustainable projects to increase internet access for low- and moderate-income households across the state. The new program provides financial resources to eligible organizations and municipalities in support of initiatives to bridge the digital divide.

“High-speed internet is increasingly considered a basic necessity for employment, education, and day-to-day tasks, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote work and school,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “However, many low- and moderate-income households cannot access high-speed internet at home, resulting in barriers to their ability to access critical resources and information.”

One important aspect of the “digital divide” centers around access to high-speed internet, also known as broadband. Broadband is provided by a series of technologies that give users the ability to send and receive data at volumes and speed that support applications such as telemedicine, distance learning, remote work, public safety and civic engagement. Disparities in broadband access can have adverse economic and social consequences on those left behind.

“Imagine a highway that leads to jobs, to education, to political participation, to information about the country and the world,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners at RIHousing. “You need the internet to travel that highway. Today, a ‘digital divide’ bars a swathe of us from that road.”

In Rhode Island, 49,573 families or 12.2% of households, are not connected to the Internet and another 34,936 families or 8.6% only have access via a smartphone and data plan, making nearly a quarter of Rhode Islanders under-connected (2019 American Community Survey).

While there are a number of initiatives to help bridge the digital divide, there are still gaps in access to high-speed internet. In response, RIHousing has created the Digital Divide Fund and is seeking proposals that will provide low-and-moderate income Rhode Island residents with long-term, high-speed access to the internet. Partnerships, pilot projects, ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and replication of successful projects from across the country are strongly encouraged.

“In today’s increasingly technological and connected world, too many people are being left behind when it comes to internet access,” said James Comer, Deputy Director, RIHousing. “The internet is now a necessity for all, from school-age kids needing to do their homework, to adults looking to gain employment. This new funding will help close the digital divide for Rhode Islanders, further reducing barriers to learning, quality of life and future success.”

The program represents RIHousing’s commitment to helping Rhode Islanders and complements existing initiatives from cable providers, the state and non-profit community to provide tablets and hot spots and improve internet use and digital literacy.

A total of $250,000 is available in funding, with a maximum award amount of $75,000 per grant. The grant term is for one year and non-profit and for-profit organizations, public housing authorities, municipalities, faith-based organizations and community housing development organizations are eligible to apply.  Applications will be evaluated on the proposed population served, need in the community, program sustainability, partnerships, organizational capacity, and program innovation, as well as several other key metrics.

Complete information on the program and how agencies and municipalities can apply, can be found online at: www.rihousing.com/rfps-rfqs. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 12, 2021 at 3:00 pm EST.

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December 18, 2020

News
RIHousing Launches New Investor Transparency Initiative and January Bond Sale

RIHousing Launches New Investor Transparency Initiative and January Bond Sale

New Investor Website www.RIHousingBonds.com will be used to Attract More Municipal Bond Investors

Providence, RI – December 18, 2020

Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation (RIHousing) today announced a new investor outreach initiative aimed at attracting more investors to their municipal bond offerings. In advance of its upcoming bond sale, RIHousing launched a new, open-access Investor Relations (IR) site, which provides a single location for investors to access the data and documents that outline the credit features of the agency’s financing programs. 

The new IR website is free to all investors at www.RIHousingBonds.com. It is being powered by BondLink, a financial technology company that has set the standard for investor transparency across the $4 trillion municipal bond market.

RIHousing is currently planning its next Multi-family issuance, which is expected to come to market in January 2021. Information regarding the sale will be accessible on the agency’s new site.

“We are committed to providing investors with easy access to our financial data,” said Kara Lachapelle, Chief Financial Officer at RIHousing. “How data is provided is a key part of being transparent: using an investor website allows us to reach more investors, and to provide financial updates in a much more user-friendly format, whether investors are using a Bloomberg terminal or a mobile phone.”

“Given how difficult market conditions have become, and how credit sensitive investors are now relative to six months ago, we’re excited to work with RIHousing to reach more investors and raise investor demand for its bond programs,” said Colin MacNaught, co-founder and CEO of BondLink. “Sophisticated issuers like RIHousing understand a commitment to transparency includes providing a better digital experience for investors online, and we look forward to partnering with them.”

Academic research shows that better, more accessible disclosure can lead to lower bond yields for municipal issuers and lower trading costs for investors. Enhanced issuer transparency has also been a continued point of emphasis from market regulators.

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September 16, 2020

News
RIHousing Issues Inaugural Social Bonds to Support Affordable Housing

RIHousing Issues Inaugural Social Bonds to Support Affordable Housing

Proceeds will open doors to homeownership for low-to-moderate income RIers

Providence, RI – RIHousing announced the issuance of $142 million of new bonds, the first ‘Social Bonds’ to be offered by the agency. Social Bonds are bonds that raise funds for new and existing projects that address or mitigate a specific social issue and/or seek to achieve positive social outcomes.  The sale of the bonds will finance affordable home loans and down payment assistance to low-to-moderate income first-time homebuyers in Rhode Island.

“Building upon the growing interest in socially responsible investments, these bonds will enable RIHousing to open the doors to homeownership to more low-and-moderate income first-time homebuyers,” said Kara Lachapelle, RIHousing’s Chief Financial Officer. “Offering these bonds as ‘Social Bonds’ allows investors to invest directly in bonds that achieve positive social outcomes.”

For almost 50 years, RIHousing has worked to ensure that all Rhode Island residents have access to safe and healthy homes in livable and sustainable communities. The agency finances affordable housing through a variety of channels, including its longstanding Homeownership Opportunity Program (“HOP”), where RIHousing issues bonds to finance mortgage loans to first time homebuyers of low-to-moderate income and provides down payment assistance.

“We recognize that homeownership is a meaningful way for families to build wealth and equity, and we are committed to helping more Rhode Islanders invest in their future and achieve the dream of homeownership,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “The proceeds from the sale of Social Bonds will allow us to continue fulfilling our core mission of helping our state and its residents.”

Social Bonds support projects with clear social benefits aimed at addressing or mitigating a specific social issue and/or seeking to achieve positive social outcomes. RIHousing’s Social Bonds designation reflects the use of proceeds of the bonds in a manner that is consistent with the “Social Bond Principles” as promulgated by the International Capital Markets Association (“ICMA”) and mapped to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.  The designation reflects the use of the proceeds to meet the goals of reducing poverty and inequalities, expanding access to financial services and supporting sustainable cities and communities in the state. Mortgage loans funded by the bond proceeds will be originated by the agency’s network of Participating Lenders and the RIHousing Loan Center.

“RIHousing has a deep commitment to social responsibility,” said Ventura. “Social Bonds are an important opportunity for investors seeking to make socially impactful investments and critical for attracting funding to benefit some of the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders.”

About RIHousing

RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit www.RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.

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September 16, 2020

Press Release
RIHousing Launches New Down Payment Assistance Program for First-time Homebuyers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 16, 2020

Contact: bonds@rihousing.com 

RIHousing Launches New Down Payment Assistance Program for First-time Homebuyers

$10,000 in down payment assistance available to eligible homebuyers

Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced a new down payment assistance program for first-time homebuyers. The “10kDPA” program provides a $10,000 down payment assistance loan to eligible homebuyers in Rhode Island.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this new program to help first-time homebuyers with what is often the biggest hurdle to homeownership: the down payment,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “Approximately 90% of our mortgage customers receive some form of down payment assistance, which greatly reduces the out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the mortgage process.”

Prospective homebuyers must obtain a RIHousing mortgage through a Participating Lender or through the RIHousing Loan Center. Homebuyers must have a minimum credit score of 660, occupy the home as their primary residence and be a first-time homebuyer purchasing a 1-4 family home or condominium in Rhode Island. The 10kDPA program is structured as a second mortgage and certain income limits and eligibility criteria apply.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted many renters and existing homeowners, it has also intensified the desire by many to buy a home,” said Peter Pagonis, RIHousing’s Director of Homeownership. “While homebuying activity slowed due to the pandemic, it has significantly rebounded since May. Record low mortgage rates are providing opportunities for buyers to lock-in low monthly mortgage payments for future years.”

In order to participate in the program, homebuyers must complete a RIHousing-approved Homebuyer Education class. The course covers a number of topics, including budgeting, understanding credit, the closing process, and the costs associated with homebuying.

“RIHousing has been opening the doors to homeownership for almost 50 years. In that time, we’ve helped over 85,000 homebuyers invest in their future and achieve the dream of owning a home,” said Ventura. “For those who are in a position to do so, now may be a great time to purchase a home. In fact, for many, owning a home is an important first step to building wealth and investing in the future.”

More information on the 10kDPA program is available online at: www.rihousing.com/10kDPA.

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September 8, 2020

Press Release
RIHousing Launches New Program to Assist Rhode Island Renters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 8, 2020

Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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RIHousing Launches New Program to Assist Rhode Island Renters

Financial assistance provides housing stability for vulnerable families

Providence, RI –RIHousing today announced a new rental assistance program for eligible Rhode Island renters struggling to pay their rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency’s HOME Emergency Tenant Based Rental Assistance Program (HOME E-TBRA) will help low-to-moderate income families negatively impacted by the unprecedented loss of jobs and income due to COVID-19.

“Rhode Islanders are facing unprecedented challenges as a result of COVID-19, and we should be making every effort to help families stay safely in their homes,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding federal housing programs. “This new program is a win-win because it will help families remain in their rented homes while also ensuring landlords and property owners are able to meet their own financial obligations. I will continue fighting for additional federal foreclosure prevention, rental assistance, and eviction prevention resources. This is why I have introduced S. 3620, the Housing Assistance Fund, to provide $75 billion in additional federal resources help keep families in their homes.”

To address the challenges, RIHousing is utilizing $500,000 in funding from the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) to establish the COVID-19 E-TBRA program to provide housing stability for vulnerable Rhode Island families. The HOME program funds a wide range of affordable housing activities, including building, buying, and rehabilitating rental and single-family homes and providing direct rental assistance to low-income people. HOME is a federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.

“The inability to pay rent threatens housing stability for our state’s renters in addition to the financial viability of owners and operators of affordable housing,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “RIHousing is committed to helping Rhode Island families weather this storm. We are working hard to offer creative and effective solutions to the housing challenges facing Rhode Islanders.”

Tenants that meet income eligibility guidelines and live in multi-family rental units, duplexes and single-family residential units owned and operated by individuals or apartments owned by corporate landlords are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to households that are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of imminent homelessness as a result of COVID-19, and/or have experienced a loss of job/income as a result of the pandemic.

The E-TBRA will assist approximately 60-100 income-eligible households with security deposit and/or housing payment assistance from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Assistance payments will be made directly to landlords, who will be required to meet certain housing standards and enter into a contract with the agency.

Funds for the HOME E-TBRA program are limited. Applications will be accepted beginning Tuesday, September 8 through Tuesday, October 6, 2020. Rhode Island renters facing homelessness and/or struggling to make their rent payments due to a loss of income resulting from COVID-19 are encouraged to reach out today. Program information and an application for assistance can be found online at: www.rihousing.com/emergency-rental-assistance/.

The HOME ETBRA Program is one of several assistance programs launched by RIHousing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island, which is also federally funded, the agency recently launched the COVID-19 Mortgage Payment Assistance Unemployment Program for Rhode Island homeowners who experienced unemployment or underemployment due to the COVID-19 health crisis and are struggling to make their mortgage payments. Earlier this year, the agency launched its HomeSafe Initiative, which provides one-time temporary financial assistance to eligible Rhode Island residents facing a short-term housing crisis. For information on COVID-19 resources and programs, visit www.rihousing.com/covid-19.

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August 18, 2020

Press Release
RIHousing Launches Mortgage Payment Assistance Program to Help RIers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 18, 2020

Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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RIHousing Launches Mortgage Payment Assistance Program to Help RIers

Federal Hardest Hit Funds offer COVID mortgage relief for homeowners

Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced $2 million in available mortgage payment assistance funding through the federally-funded Hardest Hit Fund Rhode Island (HHFRI) program. The new program provides financial assistance to Rhode Island homeowners negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to make their mortgage payments. Borrowers must have experienced unemployment or underemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible.

“During this public health emergency, housing is one of the best forms of personal protective equipment,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. “Too many Rhode Islanders have already lost their jobs during this pandemic, and we can’t afford to have families lose their homes as well. This federal funding will help more families stay safe as they navigate the evolving challenges of COVID, and I will continue fighting for additional federal foreclosure prevention and eviction prevention resources. This is why I have introduced S. 3620, the Housing Assistance Fund, to provide $75 billion in additional federal resources help keep families in their homes.”

Senator Reed was instrumental in securing federal resources for Rhode Island through the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which was established by the Federal government in February of 2010 to provide targeted aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn. Rhode Island is one of 18 states and the District of Columbia that received money from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to help homeowners avoid losing their homes to foreclosures. During the last economic recession, RIHousing was able to utilize the Hardest Hit program to help almost 6,000 families in all 39 cities and towns keep their homes.

“It is critical that we do everything that we can to keep Rhode Islanders in their homes during this period of economic uncertainty.” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “There’s no question that during this crisis, the hardest hit families have been those who can least afford it. The HHFRI program provides meaningful relief to those Rhode Island homeowners.”

The HHFRI program offers a five-year, zero interest forgivable loan for eligible homeowners to pay up to six months of mortgage payments. This program helps qualified homeowners make monthly mortgage payments and/or catch up on their payments if they have fallen behind due to a recent involuntary loss of employment or reduction in employment income. Payments can also cover arrearages if the homeowner fell behind because he/she is unemployed or underemployed due to the pandemic. All borrowers must have been current on their mortgage payments as of March 1, 2020 and must meet certain income and eligibility criteria. Applicants currently in a forbearance agreement with their lenders are eligible for the program.

“The COVID pandemic has put many homeowners in a tight financial spot, making it hard to keep up with housing costs,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “RIHousing is proud that we can offer this assistance to help Rhode Islanders remain in their homes. Since the start of the pandemic, RIHousing has been working to roll out new programs to provide relief for both renters and homeowners.”

Funds for the program are limited and will be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis. The program will be offered until full allocation is reached. Rhode Island homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments due to a loss of income resulting from COVID-19 are encouraged to reach out today. Information and applications for assistance can be found online at: www.rihousing.com/HHFRI.

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June 25, 2020

Press Release
Developer Selected to Revitalize Barbara Jordan II Apartments in South Providence

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 25, 2020

Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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Developer Selected to Revitalize Barbara Jordan II Apartments in South Providence

Decision follows extensive community engagement effort

Providence, RI – RIHousing’s Board of Commissioners today announced the selection of Omni Development Corporation and The Wingate Companies (Omni/Wingate) as co-developers of the Barbara Jordan II development in Upper South Providence. The developer selection process began over two years ago and included an extensive community engagement component, rigorous staff evaluation of developer proposals and the review and unanimous approval from an outside advisory committee. Final developer selection took place at last week’s RIHousing Board of Commissioners meeting.

“The redevelopment of Barbara Jordan II marks a major milestone in our long-term vision for promoting sustainable, inclusive growth throughout Providence neighborhoods,” remarked Mayor Jorge Elorza. “By creating new housing, and particularly new affordable housing options, we are building stronger communities and taking bold action to provide homes for our residents.”

Barbara Jordan II includes 26 two- and three-story apartment buildings situated on scattered sites totaling 2.75 acres. The 26 buildings contain a total of 74 apartments, all of which are currently vacant. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finalized a foreclosure of the properties and in June of that year ownership was transferred to RIHousing. Developer selection marks the next phase of an extensive effort to redevelop these foreclosed and vacant properties.

“We’re incredibly excited to see the redevelopment of the properties move forward and are thankful for the level of resident participation in the community engagement process,” said Carol Ventura, RIHousing Executive Director. “Now more than ever we need to develop safe, affordable homes in neighborhoods where families can thrive. The extensive outreach and developer selection process ensure the redeveloped sites will meet the needs of residents and have a transformational impact on their lives and on the broader community.”

Local residents, anchor institutions, neighborhood organizations and other stakeholders participated in a full range of public engagement activities over a seven-month period. Participants worked together to create a vision for the redevelopment of the properties and surrounding area.  Key takeaways from the engagement process were used to craft a Request for Proposals for redevelopment of the site.

“The community is encouraged about Barbara Jordan II being brought to fruition,” said State Senator Harold M. Metts. “I am both thankful and elated that families will get decent and affordable housing, and that the present blight that has haunted us for years will be replaced by new units that will visually uplift the neighborhood.”

“We are living in a time for new beginnings,” said State Representative Anastasia Williams. “I’m thrilled to see the redevelopment plans and efforts for Barbara Jordan ll moving forward to improve families’ lives, employ local workers and significantly re-shaping a whole neighborhood on Providence’s south side, resulting in a sweet community victory for everyone.”

An advisory committee composed of representatives from the City of Providence, Providence Housing Authority, LISC Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission, and a retired executive with Enterprise Community Investment, Inc., reviewed developer submissions, interviewed candidates and made the unanimous decision to select the Omni/Wingate team.

“As a City we are in need of affordable housing, and I am very happy to see that this project has come to fruition,” stated Providence City Council President Sabina Matos. “I know how hard Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris worked to bring her community together over the course of several years.  By doing so, she ensured that those who live in the neighborhood were able to have their voices heard, and that the design will reflect the needs and wants of her neighbors. This is a great new chapter in the neighborhood, and I want to say thank you to Deputy Majority Leader Harris for leading the way.”

Providence Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris stated, “I want to thank RIHousing for listening to the needs and desires of my community. For too long, developers would come into our neighborhood and not ask us – the residents – what we needed or what we wanted to see. I believe that our community has had a chance to share our voices, and I look forward to this next chapter. This project is going to be a beautiful representation of what our community needs and will change the quality of so many people’s lives.”

The development team’s selection was based on several factors, including: their strong presence in the neighborhood, significant experience and expertise in housing development and property management, design proposal and commitment to hiring local MBE/WBE construction firms.

“Work on the Barbara Jordan properties provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform this neighborhood and significantly improve the lives of local residents,” said Jeanne Cola, Executive Director, LISC Rhode Island. “This project was named for one of our country’s leaders in the civil rights movement. Barbara Jordan was one of the first U.S. Congresswomen and was a passionate advocate for all Americans. To properly restore and revitalize these homes for the community will honor the legacy she left to our country. Efforts such as these are successful because community members, stakeholder groups, for- and not-for-profit entities come together to create a shared vision. The Omni/Wingate development team is the right partner to see through that vision.”

The Providence-based Omni Development Corporation has created over 1,400 units of affordable housing at 20 developments within Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut over the last 29 years. The Wingate Company has over 30 years of property management experience, managing over 15,000 residential apartments in 18 states and 1,500 units in 19 developments in Rhode Island.

“This development will allow Omni to continue our work in the neighborhood, which was a primary focus of Joseph A. Caffey, who served as Executive Director for 24 years,” said Sharon Morris, Executive Director of Omni Development Corporation. “Omni is an experienced developer and has transformed some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, replacing vacant lots and abandoned properties with high-quality, safe and affordable housing. Like myself, Joe was committed to the community.  Barbara Jordan II is an exciting opportunity for Omni Development Corporation and Wingate Companies.  We look forward to transforming the neighborhood and enhancing the quality of life for the residents of South Providence.”

The redevelop effort represents a significant investment in the community and its residents. More information on the development and the community engagement process can be found here: https://www.rihousing.com/barbarajordan2/.

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December 23, 2019

Press Release
Funding Awards will Support the Development of Zero Net Energy Housing for Rhode Islanders

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 23, 2019

Media Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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Funding Awards will Support the Development of Zero Net Energy Housing for Rhode Islanders

Multi-agency investment will create replicable models for sustainability

Providence, RI – RIHousing and the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER) announced today the award of funds to develop highly energy efficient housing for low- and moderate-income Rhode Islanders. The pilot program, Zero Energy for the Ocean State (ZEOS), is the result of a public-private partnership between RIHousing, OER and National Grid to explore innovative, replicable solutions to utilize cost saving, clean energy technologies in homes.

“RIHousing is committed to developing housing that Rhode Islanders can afford,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director at RIHousing. “Energy efficient features in these homes will result in reduced occupancy costs for residents, thereby increasing their disposable income to meet other needs in their lives.” 

RIHousing and OER have committed a total of $675,000 in funding to three developers who will produce a range of building types in rural, suburban and urban parts of the state.

All three recipients of ZEOS Demonstration funds will develop stock plans to ensure replicability of their zero energy designs. The projects are:

  • Caldwell & Johnson: to construct a single-story duplex rental for seniors 55+ in North Kingstown. The development includes two, one-bedroom, one-bath units. Caldwell & Johnson has built this model previously and are committed to providing much needed affordable housing for seniors in the North Kingstown area.
  • Church Community Housing Corporation (CCHC): to construct eight, single-family homes in Jamestown and Aquidneck Island. Seven of the homes will be new construction and one includes the rehabilitation of an existing building. CCHC will also develop a building manual that will be easily replicable by small homebuilders.
  • One Neighborhood Builders: to construct five, small single-family, solar-powered homes in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. Homes will be constructed as part of a training program with Providence-based, non-profit Building Futures and in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design and the City of Providence.

“Expanding access to cost-effective energy efficiency measures is vital to Rhode Island’s clean energy future,” said State Energy Commissioner Carol Grant. “The state has made great strides to expand our energy efficiency programs to more people. The ZEOS program is one more way we are working to support renewable and green energy efforts.” 

Developers will design and construct affordable, Zero Energy Buildings (ZEBs).  ZEBs are defined as any energy-efficient building with zero net energy consumption, meaning the total amount of energy used by a building on an annual basis is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

In addition to meeting ZEB standards, developers must also participate in National Grid’s Residential New Construction Program (www.ngrid.com/save) and will work closely with program partners throughout the design, construction, and data collection phases.

“We’re excited with the level of innovation and commitment to energy efficient projects in the funding applications received,” said Chris Porter, Director of Customer Energy Management at National Grid. “Applicants will deploy a range of methods, including new and emerging technologies, thoughtful design, and sustainable building materials to meet program goals while creating a pathway for scaling ZEBs in low- and moderate-income residential sectors as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Funding awards were announced at the December meeting of the RIHousing Board of Commissioners. A Request for Proposals (RFP) was released in July 2019 with initial funding of $250,000 available. In response to the strength of applications, the RIHousing Board of Commissioners approved an additional $375,000 to fully support the three projects.

About RIHousing

RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit www.RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources

The Office of Energy Resources (OER) is Rhode Island’s lead state agency on energy policy and programs. The mission of OER is to lead Rhode Island to a secure, cost-effective, and sustainable energy future. OER works closely with private and public stakeholders to increase the reliability and security of our energy supply, reduce energy costs and mitigate price volatility, and improve environmental quality.

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September 26, 2019

Press Release
RIHousing Issues Inaugural Sustainability Bonds to Support Affordable Housing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 26, 2019

Media Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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RIHousing Issues Inaugural Sustainability Bonds to Support Affordable Housing

_Almost 700 apartments to include energy efficient and sustainable building features _

Providence, RI – RIHousing announced the issuance of $73.6 million of new bonds, the first ‘Sustainability Bonds’ to be offered by the agency. The sale of the bonds will fund the acquisition and rehabilitation of 752 rental homes for low and moderate-income Rhode Islanders.

“Rhode Island is leading in the fight against climate change. Here in the Ocean State, we’re committed to reducing our energy consumption and protecting our natural resources,” said Stefan Pryor, Rhode Island Secretary of Commerce. “I applaud RIHousing for utilizing all available tools to increase investments in affordable housing while reducing our carbon footprint and providing meaningful savings for residents.”

RIHousing will disburse the bond proceeds and has already identified housing developments that will utilize the funding to incorporate green and energy efficient building practices into rental properties. Multi-family developments are located in Newport (Harbor House), North Providence (Centredale Manor and Mineral Spring Gardens), Pawtucket (Prospect Heights III) and Woonsocket (Trio Partners). The majority of units are required to serve extremely low income households with incomes at or below 30% of AMI (or $24,250 for a family of four). Units at four of the developments (Harbor House, Mineral Spring Gardens, Trio Partners, and Centredale Manor) are expected to be occupied exclusively by elderly or disabled tenants or tenants of age 62 or older.

“Building upon the growing interest in socially responsible investments, these bonds will enable RIHousing to maximize funding for affordable housing while ensuring these rental homes are energy efficient, safe and healthy,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, Chairman of the RIHousing Board of Commissioners. “Offering these bonds as ‘Sustainability Bonds’ allows investors to invest directly in bonds that finance affordable housing in Rhode Island, promote environmental benefits, stimulate economic growth, and revitalize local communities.”

Sustainability Bonds can reduce energy costs and reliance on fossil fuels while creating good homes and well-paying jobs in the construction industry. They are an important opportunity for investors seeking to make socially impactful investments and critical for attracting funding to communities to benefit some of the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders.

“RIHousing has a deep commitment to sustainability, green building technologies and energy efficiency to help preserve and protect natural resources while also reducing housing costs for residents,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “RIHousing values and promotes healthy, durable, high quality, affordable construction, and ultimately, the cost-effective combination of sustainable building processes and affordable housing construction.”

Selected developments will undergo rehabilitation to incorporate one or more energy efficiency standards and features. These standards are designed to ensure that the housing units are economical, comfortable, durable, healthy, energy efficient and attractive. Work may include the installation of energy efficient windows, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, upgraded unit and common area ventilation and exhaust, Virtual Net Metering to offset 100% of a building’s electric costs and water conservation features.

About RIHousing

RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit www.RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.

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September 23, 2019

Press Release
Ribbons Cut on New Affordable Apartments in Barrington

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 23, 2019

Media Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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Ribbons Cut on New Affordable Apartments in Barrington

_Partners and elected officials gather to celebrate the completion of __46 new rental homes _

Providence, RI – Congressman David Cicilline recently joined state and local officials, representatives of RIHousing, East Bay Community Development Corporation (EBCDC), and funding and community partners to celebrate the completion of new rental homes in Barrington.

Known as Palmer Pointe, the development includes 46 affordable apartments at two locations: 40 apartments on the Sowams Road site (former home of Sowams Nursery) and six units on three vacant lots at the Sweetbriar development on Washington Street in West Barrington. Both sites feature homes designed using traditional building styles along roads lined with sidewalks. Parking is situated beside or behind buildings to help strengthen the pedestrian network of the community.

“Important projects like Palmer Pointe are made possible when organizations like EBCDC and RIHousing work with elected officials at the local, state, and federal level to give folks the tools they need to get ahead,” said Congressman David N. Cicilline. “I commend both EBCDC and RIHousing for their continued efforts to provide hardworking families with high-quality, affordable housing and their tireless dedication to making our state a better place to call home.”

Initiatives like Palmer Pointe are integral to solving Rhode Island’s affordable housing crisis and providing well-paying jobs while creating vibrant communities with good homes. Whether living in an urban, suburban or rural setting, Rhode Islanders need rental options that they can afford, and in communities where they want to live.

“I am excited to welcome our newest Barrington residents,” said Michael Carroll, Barrington Town Council President. “They will find that they’ve moved to a very welcoming place. We’ve learned that developments like Palmer Pointe enrich our community in many ways.”

The six units at the Sweetbriar site complement the 47 affordable apartments previously completed by EBCDC in 2011. Originally envisioned as homeownership units, due to changes in the economy it was more financially feasible to continue with rental apartments using existing infrastructure, and the new buildings were able to be constructed quickly.

“The Palmer Pointe project is the latest demonstration of the EBCDC’s commitment to the communities we serve,” said Diane Mederos, Executive Director of the East Bay Community Development Corporation. “We take pride in the homes we’ve developed and in creating communities where families can thrive.”

The creation of new homes at Palmer Pointe supported 83 jobs, 58 of which were in the construction trades. Funding for Palmer Pointe came from a variety of funding sources, including a construction loan and mortgage from RIHousing, $1 million in HOME Program funding, $9.7 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, $2.2 million from Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) state bond funding and a $250,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Anne Nolan, Chair of the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission (HRC), spoke at the event, representing the BHRI and CDBG investments in the development.

“The need and demand for affordable family housing is strong in Barrington, where only 7% of the town’s housing stock is multifamily,” said Carol Ventura, Interim Executive Director of RIHousing. “Palmer Pointe provides much needed affordable homes in a highly desirable community with only limited affordable apartment options.”

Palmer Pointe completes the Sweetbriar development on Washington Street and adds new homes on the former nursery site on Sowams Road, which reflect the architectural character of the surrounding community and maintain the scale of a single-family neighborhood. The landscaping includes common greens and shared space to create a strong sense of community for families.

“Red Stone Equity Partners congratulates our partner East Bay Community Development Corporation (EBCDC) on the completion of Palmer Pointe, our second affordable housing collaboration with EBCDC. We are pleased to provide over $9 million of tax credit equity for the newly constructed affordable housing development in the City of Barrington,” said Rob Vest, Managing Director of Acquisitions for Red Stone Equity Partners. “This project provides 46 units of affordable housing to local families and continues our commitment to being a part of affordable housing solutions in Rhode Island and across the nation.”

Apartments will be affordable to families earning less than 60% of the Area Median Income (AMI), $49,140 for a family of four.

The event also included a dedication of the new road at Palmer Point in honor of Coach Frank Murgo, who passed away in January 2019 at age 95. A long-time Barrington resident, Coach Murgo was the former coach of the Peck Junior High School basketball team and coached football in Barrington for many years. In 2017, the Barrington High School gym was named after him. Members of the Murgo family were in attendance at the dedication ceremony.

About RIHousing

RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit www.RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.

About East Bay Community Development Corporation (EBCDC)

It is the mission of the East Bay Community Development Corp to preserve the quality of family and community life in the East Bay by insuring that a full range of safe, attractive and affordable housing opportunities are available to meet the needs of all our residents.

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September 4, 2019

Press Release
Partners celebrate completion of new homes in Charlestown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4, 2019

Media Contact: bonds@rihousing.com

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Partners celebrate completion of new homes in Charlestown

Shannock Falls offers 43 affordable apartments adjacent to historic Shannock Village

Providence, RI –

State and local officials joined with representatives of RIHousing, Women’s Development Corporation (WDC), Washington County Community Development Corporation (WCCDC), and funding and community partners to celebrate the completion of new rental homes in Charlestown.

The 43-unit affordable apartment development known as Shannock Falls is comprised of two separate sites in Charlestown and Richmond. The Charlestown site features 11 apartments in four buildings, with 32 units at the Richmond location. Located along the banks of the Pawcatuck River, the design of the new buildings is consistent with the historic architectural detailing of the surrounding area.

“Housing development is an integral component of economic development, and these 43 new units represent 43 new opportunities for families and individuals to prosper in Rhode Island,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. “This impressive development adds to our growing portfolio of new housing. We’re glad that Governor Raimondo’s $40 million housing bond is helping to support the development of new affordable housing such as Shannock Falls. Congratulations to all involved in the project.”

The Shannock Falls development has an expected total development cost of approximately $15.6 million, will support 77 jobs (54 in construction) and create affordable apartments in a region with limited affordable rental homes. The project directly supports both the Charlestown and Richmond Affordable Housing Plans and addresses both towns’ need for additional affordable rental units.

“Communities throughout rural Rhode Island are in great need of affordable housing, particularly for families. We are very pleased that Shannock Falls will provide high-quality housing for the people of Richmond and Charlestown,” said James Comer, Executive Director, WDC.

Financing for Shannock Falls includes a variety of federal and local resources, including $11.8 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity, $500,000 in federal HOME funding, $2.1 million in Building Homes Rhode Island state bond funding and $325,000 in town bonds. The balance of the capital stack includes a first mortgage from RIHousing and a Seller Loan.

“We’re excited and proud of our partnership with WDC and RIHousing to bring this project to fruition,” said Alice Buckley, Executive Director, WCCDC. “Efforts such as Shannock Falls rely on

the support and commitment of a range of partners and variety of funding sources. We’re excited to welcome new families and watch them grow and thrive.”

The Charlestown property stands on a 7-acre site (3 acres of which will remain undeveloped) less than a mile from the Richmond site, across from the Pawcatuck River. Construction at the Richmond site is ongoing and is expected to be completed by the summer of 2020. The Richmond buildings stand on a 64-acre site, 56 acres of which have been placed in a permanent conservation area. Currently under construction, the property will feature a community building containing a maintenance garage, community room, laundry facilities, mailboxes and a property management office.

“It is rewarding to be able to provide affordable homes that are well constructed and designed and that are affordable to families in a time of rising housing costs,” said Virginia Lee, Charlestown Town Council President.

“The project has been 14 years in the making,” said Rich Nassaney, Richmond Town Council President. “But this is only the beginning. I see a great future for families and this community moving forward.”

Single-family homes dominate the southern region of the state —with only about a quarter of its stock being multifamily housing. The projected housing need, according to the 2016 Projecting Future Housing Needs report, is for significantly more multifamily stock than single-family homes. In addition to the limited supply of rental homes, 53% of renters in the region are considered cost burdened, or pay more than 30% of their income toward housing costs.

“Shannock Falls provides people the opportunity to afford high-quality housing in the area they grew up in or may be coming back to,” said Carol Ventura, Interim Executive Director, RIHousing. “We’re excited to welcome families into their new homes and look forward to the completion of new homes at the Richmond location in the near future.”

The need and demand for affordable family housing is strong in these two communities. All units will be available to households earning less than 60% of the area median income (AMI), or $49,700 for a family of four. Apartments at the Charlestown site are leasing up now and applications for both sites are still being accepted.

About RIHousing

RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit www.RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.

About Women’s Development Corporation

Women’s Development Corporation (“WDC”) is a non-profit corporation founded in 1979. Their mission is “to design, develop, preserve and manage affordable housing for families, elderly and persons with special needs.” They have developed nearly 2,000 apartments over the past 30 years and have won awards for energy efficiency and minority participation. While they concentrate primarily on rental housing, they have also developed some homeownership for low and moderate-income families.

About Washington County Community Development Corporation

Washington County Community Development Corporation (WCCDC) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation established in 2005, to provide low/moderate income residents of Rhode Island with decent, affordable housing in Washington County. WCCDC has developed 78 affordable housing units, manages the Community Development Block Grant Programs for 9 towns in Washington County and is an active member of the Housing Network of Rhode Island.

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