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RI HOUSING

R.I. approves nearly $31m for affordable housing, creating and preserving more than 600 units

‘This represents the largest single-year state affordable housing investment in memory,’ the state Commerce Secretary said of the move, which will fund 23 affordable housing projects in 13 locations

The Rhode Island State House.Edward Fitzpatrick

PROVIDENCE — The McKee administration’s Housing Resources Commission has approved nearly $31 million in funds for 23 affordable housing projects in Rhode Island. These funds will be used to produce and preserve more than 600 units of affordable housing in 13 cities and towns in the state, after it garnered approval from the state’s Housing Resources Commission.

This $31 million in funding is the largest round of awards made through the Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) program since the program’s inception in 2006, according to the governor’s office.

“This announcement represents the largest single-year state affordable housing investment in memory,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said in a statement sent by his office. “Housing is a top priority for the McKee-Matos administration and the General Assembly, and that is reflected in the significant actions taken today. There is much more to do, but this is a major step forward.”

BHRI is a state-funded initiative of the Housing Resources Commission that focuses on creating and preserving rental units for those making up to 80 percent Area Medium Income, or AMI. It also works on homeownership projects for those who make up to 120 percent AMI.

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Christine Hunsinger, the chief strategy and innovation officer at Rhode Island Housing, told the Globe that construction on some of the projects is already underway where additional funds were necessary to help pay for the rising costs of materials. Other projects won’t begin until sometime next year.

“These awards represent historic funding to tackle our housing crisis and keep Rhode Islanders in safe, affordable and stable housing. This investment has never been more crucial,” said Governor Dan McKee in a statement sent by his office.

At a press conference on Wednesday, McKee said that he “recognizes that more needs to be done.”

The projects are funded through a $50 million allocation from the $65 million housing and community revitalization bond that was approved by voters in March. The remaining $19 million from the housing allocation will announced in a second and third funding round. But the remaining $15 million of the bond will go toward “community revitalization,” which can go to support affordable housing, but also other community needs, according to state officials. Of this amount, 75 percent will go toward urban communities.

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Rhode Island Housing has requested proposals for the $15 million. The deadline to apply is Dec. 15.

“Each dollar of BHRI funds invested leverages additional investments, which create significant economic benefits for the state and serve as an engine for growth, employment and spending on local goods and services,” said Carol Ventura, executive director of Rhode Island Housing.

State Senator Cynthia Mendes, a Democratic lieutenant governor candidate who slept in a tent outside the State House on Tuesday night to demand action on the state’s homelessness crisis, was not impressed with the announcement.

“I find it insulting that Governor McKee is touting spending less than half of the affordable housing funding he was given by voters nine months ago,” Mendes said. “As usual, it’s way too little, way too late from him. Right now, there are hundreds of people sleeping out on the streets. Winter is here. We’ve got a houselessness crisis, and we need a government that’s going to act like it.”

Here are some of the projects supported by the funds:

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  • Armory Revival’s Bourne Mill III project in Tiverton will use $2,029,479 to produce 59 affordable and workforce housing units.
  • Church Community Housing at 50 Washington Square in Newport will use $800,000 to update and rehab 93 apartments.
  • Church Community Housing at Cottrell Farms in Tiverton will use $355,086 to build three new two-bedroom, net-zero energy homes.
  • Church Community Housing, located at 12 and 15 Bloom Court in Middletown, will use $184,179 to build two new single-family, net-zero energy homeownership units to replace two “blighted and structurally unsound houses” that will be demolished.
  • Crossroads Rhode Island at 165 Beach in Warwick will use $448,529 to convert the former homeless shelter rooms located on the first floor into four units of permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless families.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley at the The Millrace in Woonsocket will use $1,270,169 to produce 70 units.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley at Constitution Hill II and III in Woonsocket will use $976,650 to update and preserve 65 affordable apartments.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley at Fernwood IV in Burrillville will use $265,000 to construct eight new homes on vacant land.
  • One Neighborhood Builders at the Residences at Riverside in East Providence will use $1,676,000 to create 16 new affordable rental units, including three that will be reserved for youths who are aging out of foster care.
  • SWAP at Portland Homes in Providence will use $839,915 to construct four homeownership units each with a rental unit on vacant lots.
  • One Neighborhood Builders at Villas Above the River in Providence will use $3.45 million to produce and preserve 85 units.
  • Looking Upwards / SWAP at Looking Upwards in Jamestown will use $1.8 million to create 12 affordable apartments for use by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Brisa Ventures at Bernon Mills Residence in Woonsocket will use $4 million to rehabilitate a blighted historic mill property to include three multifamily apartment buildings, for a total of 60 affordable units.
  • Coventry Housing Associates at Riverside Landing in Coventry will use $2.71 million to renovate two historic dilapidated buildings to create eight new affordable units.
  • Marathon Development at Copley Chambers in Providence will use $1.95 million to convert a vacant historic building into a mixed-use property including a total of 26 affordable units.
  • Dakota Partners at Brookside Terrace II in East Greenwich will use $402,000 to produce 48 new units.
  • South County Habitat for Humanity on Cardinal Lane in Hopkinton will use $336,204 to build three single-family affordable homeownership units on a vacant piece of land.
  • Neighborworks Blackstone River Valley at Ivy Place in East Providence will use $578,397 to develop 13 affordable homeownership units on a vacant infill lot.
  • Crossroads Rhode Island on Summer Street in Providence will use $2 million to produce 87 units reserved for homeless individuals at or below 30 percent of AMI. Another $2 million will produce 89 units reserved for homeless individuals at or below 30 percent of AMI.
  • Smith Hill CDC for 171 and 175 Admiral Street in Providence will use $280,748 to provide two affordable homeownership opportunities in the Smith Hill neighborhood.
  • South County Habitat for Humanity at Mooresfield in Charlestown will use $88,000 to construct a single-family affordable homeownership unit on a vacant gifted lot.
  • Housing Authority of the City of Newport at Park Holm IV in Newport will use $2.55 million to preserve 51 affordable units.

Globe staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.