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Learn the Lingo: “Net-Zero” and “Passive House”

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The Sheridan Small Homes Groundbreaking Ceremony on October 28, 2019, was a singularly exciting moment. The project consists of five single-family homes that are relatively small, at approximately 750 square feet of livable space, and are designed to be “net-zero.” As sustainable building practices and standards have gained traction, many related new terms and standards have emerged. For example, this project is also slated to become “Passive House Certified.”

But what do these terms and standards actually mean?

Net-zero or zero-energy refers to the overall production and consumption of energy by a building. Our built environment was responsible for approximately 40% of the total energy consumption in the US in 2018 according to the US Energy Information Agency.

Inside each building, components such as: heating and cooling systems, technology equipment, appliances, lighting fixtures and signage all consume energy. If a building can produce as much energy as it consumes, it significantly decreases the demand on fossil fuel energy sources. Solar panels are the most common way for a building to produce energy onsite. Photovoltaic technology has advanced in recent years, and demand for solar has grown such that solar panels have proven to be cost-effective as the owner saves money on energy bills.

In addition to being net-zero, buildings can also gain Passive House certification, the most stringent sustainable-building standard, yielding extremely energy-efficient buildings. Utilizing innovative construction methods and effective space planning can reduce heating and cooling loads — the greatest energy demand on any building — to lessen the overall energy consumption.

Creating a well-insulated exterior building envelope helps to retain hot air in the winter and cool air in the summer. Window placement is also important in generating passive heat from the sun and offering ventilation for passive cooling. The placement of windows also becomes important to light a space naturally instead of relying on lighting fixtures. In order to achieve Passive House standards, a building needs to meet standards of air tightness, thermal insulation, and minimal energy consumption, which all vary depending on the climate.

One Neighborhood Builders is using all these techniques in our Sheridan Small Homes project to achieve net-zero energy as well as Passive House certification. It is important to note that all systems in these houses are electric — a clean energy source — as opposed to fossil fuel.

A few specialized highlights of our project are 11” thick exterior walls and 12” roofs, which are thicker than normal to accommodate more insulation; triple-paned windows to prevent heat loss; an electric air source heat pump and ERV system for heating and fresh air; energy efficient appliances, and, of course, solar panels to generate power.

ONE|NB is awarded Rhode Island Foundation Grant to Ensure “Hard-to-Reach” Communities are Included in 2020 Census

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Published by Chris Barnett, Rhode Island Foundation on January 3rd, 2020. Full story here.

Thanks to the generosity of local donors, the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund has awarded nearly $300,000 to local organizations for outreach and education that will encourage participation in the 2020 Census. The goal is to protect the roughly $3.8 billion a year that Rhode Island receives in federal funding for education, health care, housing and more based on Census data.

“These Census outreach grants are an essential tool to build the grassroots effort that will help us achieve our goal of ensuring that every Rhode Islander is counted,” said state Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, who co-chairs Rhode Island’s Complete Count Committee. “The work to ensure that every community in every ZIP code in Rhode Island is fairly and accurately represented must be community led.”

Among the 26 organizations that received funding are the Alliance of Rhode Island Southeast Asians for Education (ARISE) in Providence, Progreso Latino in Central Falls and Meals on Wheels in Providence. The focus of the grant program is increasing Census response rates in communities that have been historically undercounted and are vulnerable to an undercount in 2020.

“The primary focus is to reach people who are considered ‘hard to count’ – non-English speakers, persons who are homeless and young adults among others. One of our most important tasks is to support outreach that motivates community members to respond,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, who also serves as co-chair.

Donors to the Rhode Island Census 2020 Fund include local philanthropist Bhikhaji Maneckji, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, the Nellie Mae Foundation, the Service Employees International Union 1199 New England, the Rhode Island Foundation and United Way of Rhode Island. The Rhode Island Foundation administers the initiative working in partnership with the Rhode Island Complete Count Committee, created in late 2018 by executive order of Gov. Gina Raimondo.

ARISE received $10,000 for community canvassing and education, ethnic media outreach, community events, information sessions and training lead organizers and youth leaders.

“We’ve been organizing in the Southeast Asian community around the 2020 Census for the past year. This grant will enhance our work eliminating the barriers to participation for historically disenfranchised communities like ours,” said Chanda Womack, executive director.

Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island received $10,000 to train staff and volunteers, and for education, outreach and promotion of the 2020 Census to people who participate in the Home-Delivered Meal Program and Capital City Café dining sites.

“At Meals on Wheels of RI, seniors are always at the center of our work as we serve a unique population that, because they are homebound, may face barriers to participating in the 2020 Census,” said Meghan Grady, executive director. “This grant will augment our efforts to ensure homebound seniors are fully represented in the count.”

Progreso Latino received $20,000 to support its “Everyone Counts/Todos Contamos” Census Campaign. The campaign is a multi-prong, multi-lingual, social media and grass-roots neighborhood public education effort in collaboration with the organization’s community networks.

“We’ll include a ‘train-the –trainer’ component to ensure that influencers in the community can help spread the word among the hard-to-count segments of the Latino and immigrant community,” said Mario Bueno, executive director.

Amos House, the Center for Southeast Asians, Children’s Friend and Service, the city of Newport, Clinica Esperanza/Hope Clinic, the East Providence Public Library, the Elisha Project, Fuerza Laboral, Generation Citizen, Genesis Center, House of Manna Ministries, the Museum of Work & Culture, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, ONE Neighborhood Builders, Providence Community Opportunity Corp., Ready to Learn Providence, the Refugee Development Center, Rhode Island Professional Latino Association, the R.I. Coalition for the Homeless, The College Crusade of Rhode Island, Thundermist Health Center, Turning Around Ministries and the West Elmwood Housing Development Corp. also received grants.

Sixty organizations submitted proposals totaling nearly $1.2 million in the first round of funding. The applications were reviewed by a committee of community members.

“Grassroots organizations realize how crucial it is to engage their communities on the Census and they went all in on the first round. The volume and quality of the responses made for a very difficult review and selection process,” said Jessica David, executive vice president of strategy and community investments at the Rhode Island Foundation, which administers the program. “We’re grateful to the funding partners who are supporting this effort, and to the many local groups who will do the on-the-ground organizing in order to turn out their communities in 2020.”

Applications for a second round of funding are already being taken. Rhode Island-based nonprofit organizations, municipal governments, public agencies like libraries or schools; houses of worship and community-based groups have until Fri., Jan. 31, 2020, to apply for at least $125,000 in funding.

An information session for organizations interested in applying for the second round of Census 2020 Outreach Grants program is scheduled for Tuesday, January 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Millrace Kitchen, 40 South Main St., Woonsocket. More information about the workshop and the program is posted at

ONE Neighborhood Builders begins construction on Manton Live/Work Townhomes

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PROVIDENCE, RI — Community developer, ONE Neighborhood Builders, has broken ground on Manton Live/Work Townhomes. This new project runs along Manton Avenue in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence and consists of four two-family homes. Each of the four homes will also offer a commercial space on the ground floor.

The owner’s home offers a total of 960 sf of space that includes two bedrooms and1 bathroom, plus an additional 350 sf ground floor work/make area with a half bathroom. The ground floor space will be flexible, as it may be used as part of the owner’s home or leased to a small business owner.

The attached one-bedroom rental apartment will be designated for individuals earning less than $34,-000/year or a couple earning less than $39,-000/year. Owners will be able to significantly reduce their mortgage expense through rental income from this apartment. These four mixed-use properties will be sold at approximately $240,000 and prospective buyers may not earn more than 120% of area median income (i.e. $85,000 for a family of three).

This proposed mixed-use/mixed-income development answers two needs for Providence: production of housing for low and moderate-income households, and creation of commercial space to increase economic development.

The project will be located along the commercial corridor in Olneyville, offering easy access to Joslin Park and Riverside Park. The high-quality design, flexible workspace on the ground floor, and the appeal of an affordable one-bedroom rental unit make this an ideal property for households working in the creative and service sectors.

Capital grants for this project were provided through RI Housing’s Acquisition and Revitalization Program and the City of Providence HOME funds. TD Bank is the construction lender. The total development cost is $1,195,197. J2 Construct is the general contractor and Union Studios is the architect. Project is expected to be completed in Winter of 2020.

Building Community through Homes, Health and Opportunity. ONE Neighborhood Builders accomplishes its mission through strategic real estate development to expand affordable housing and spur economic development; engaging residents and community organizations to build trust and collectively problem-solve; and development of individuals’ personal financial capabilities so that they may realize their asset building goals.


ONE|NB Seeks Director of Finance

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The Director of Finance is a member of the senior management team and reports to the Executive Director. The Director of Finance participates in quarterly board meetings and must be prepared to competently communicate directly with the Board Treasurer. This position supervises a Bookkeeper/Office Manager.

This position fulfills all accounting functions, with a heavy emphasis on government grant accounting. This position also fulfills strategic direction and fiscal planning for the agency – including developing agency-wide and programmatic budgets and working with staff to fundraise and ensure full allocation of expenses to grant budgets. The Director of Finance is responsible for all human resources matters for the agency. Lastly, the Director of Finance must work closely with the real estate development team to obtain and manage pre-development and construction funding (grants and loans) to acquire and build real estate.
Key Functional Responsibilities and Tasks


  • Prepare and maintain general ledger details and accounting records of all funds.
  • Review monthly balance sheets and revenues/expenditures statements and perform balance sheet account analysis.
  • Coordinate monthly closing and production/distribution of financial statements to guarantee timely reporting.
  • Close the general ledger monthly and prepare detailed and summary financial statements; research and reconcile discrepancies
  • Compile all required documentations for auditors and be responsive to all auditor requests; make all adjusting entries upon completion.
  • Manage all inter-company transactions.
  • Maintain rolling cash flow reports for operating and capital balances; monitor cash balances in operating accounts and coordinate cash transfers as necessary
  • Complete bank reconciliations on a monthly basis for nine accounts
  • Assist with purchasing and procurement according to agency policy.

Grant Management

  • Review & monitor individual grants and track grant transactions for compliance with fund requirements, billing and collections.
  • Prepare multiple grant requisitions to collect funds for the support of restricted fund expenditures.
  • Coordinate with staff to support proper and timely expenditure of grant funds in compliance with applicable guidelines and fund deadlines.
  • Establish & maintain spreadsheets to monitor the allocation of grants to cover program and personnel expenses.

Real Estate Development and Management

  • Track pre-development costs and determine which costs can be capitalized
  • Track development requisitions and enter as receivables.
  • Work with auditor to account for property sales and transfer of assets between companies.
  • Bring accounting activity from third-party property management company to ONE|NB books on a quarterly basis.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Understanding of GAAP and its application in the real estate development sector.
  • Strong preference with experience of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit source
  • Non-profit accounting experience.
  • Superior analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and collaboratively with all levels of employees.
  • Communicate effectively, both orally and in writing, with internal and external stakeholders.
  • High degree of initiative and follow through.
  • Excellent organizational development skills with the ability to supervise staff and participate in strategic planning.
  • Proficient user of Peachtree (Sage).
  • Expert knowledge of Excel.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting/Finance. CPA and MBA are highly desirable
  • 10 years of general accounting experience, including at least 5 years of experience with grant accounting in a non-profit organization.
  • Experience in the real estate industry is essential, preferably within the affordable housing sector.


  • Enjoys working in a casual, all hands-on-deck office culture.
  • Comfortable working in an urban neighborhood.
  • Celebrates diversity of work-styles, cultural backgrounds, and job tasks.
  • Solid sense of humor and ability to quickly change course.

Job Type: Full-time

Salary: $75,000.00 to $85,000.00 /year


  • Accounting: 10 years (Required)
  • Grant Accounting: 5 years (Required)


  • Bachelor’s (Required)


  • Health insurance
  • Retirement plan
  • Paid time off


  • Monday to Friday
Application Instruction

Please address your cover letter and resume to Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director at

Rhode Island development pairs affordable housing with net-zero design

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Published by Energy News Network — November 18th, 2019

Developers of five new Providence homes aim to reduce residents’ long-term costs by eliminating their utility bills.

Residents of an affordable housing development under construction in Providence, Rhode Island, will get more than a break on the home price — they will have zero energy bills.

Five two-bedroom homes are being built to net-zero energy standards on a 0.75-acre lot in the predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of Olneyville. The two-level, 750-square-foot homes will be equipped with enough rooftop solar panels to supply slightly more energy than they are expected to consume.

The project, called Sheridan Small Homes, marks the city’s first attempt to pair zero-emission design with affordable homeownership. It is a case study of sorts for future projects, as the city has identified some 250 vacant, tax-reverted lots that might be suitable for small, affordable homes, said Bonnie Nickerson, director of planning and development.

“When you think about affordable housing, it’s both the cost to acquire the unit as well as the long-term cost to maintain it,” Nickerson said. “We think any investment we can make upfront to reduce those long-term costs is really good for future buyers or tenants.”

Low-income households are often disproportionately burdened with utility bills because the units are often older and inefficient. In Providence, low-income households spend 9.5% of their income on energy, compared to 4.7% for all households, according to a 2016 report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The $1.4-million Sheridan project is being funded through a variety of sources, including an award from a new grant program designed specifically for the development of zero energy units for low-to-moderate-income households. That program, called Zero Energy for the Ocean State, is a public-private partnership between Rhode Island Housing, National Grid, and the state Office of Energy Resources.

The homes will be bigger than so-called tiny houses, but small enough to make net-zero construction possible from a cost perspective, said Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, the nonprofit developer overseeing the project.

When they are completed next year, they will sell for around $140,000 each, about half the construction cost. But that’s right in line with other affordable housing projects without green features, Hawkins said.

“The cost for these homes is more per square foot, but the overall subsidy isn’t out of whack,” she said.

Hawkins enlisted the help of a Rhode Island School of Design architecture professor, Jonathan Knowles, to come up with a feasible design. Knowles, a partner in Briggs Knowles Architecture Plus Design, made it a studio project for 12 of his students, gradually winnowing down their designs to settle on a final two.

“I was asked to provide a prototype home with two bedrooms and two floors,” Knowles said. “It was a real challenge to do a zero energy ready house on two floors, and bring it in on budget, but they wanted the houses to have flexibility in case of live-in grandparents or kids. It required three months of all hands on deck for the students to figure it out.”

The zero-energy design elements include triple-glazed windows, 11-inch thick walls, electric heat pumps and air exchange systems, and highly insulated roofs. The homes will be positioned to maximize solar gain.

Knowles said they shaved off some costs by using slab-on-grade foundations, and no-frills finishes like polished concrete floors and tub surrounds instead of tile.

The development will be set up as a condominium, and the managing association will own the solar panels. That way, all residents will share equally in the solar savings, Hawkins said. Buyers will also undergo training in how the home’s energy features work.

So many would-be buyers have already expressed interest that she is anticipating having to hold a lottery. In order to qualify, buyers must earn no more than 80% of the area median income for two of the homes (about $52,000 for a couple), and no more than 120% of area median income for the other three (about $79,000).

The development is part of a larger revitalization plan underway in Olneyville. It is adjacent to Sixty King, a former knife factory that was recently converted to mixed-income rental apartments, and the popular Riverside Park, on the Woonasquatucket River. It will be constructed by trainees with Building Futures, a nonprofit organization that trains workers in the construction trades with the goal of increasing wage opportunities for low-income adults.

Full article here

Small homes, big ambitions: Work starts on RISD-designed affordable housing project

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Published in The Providence Journal  – October 28, 2019

PROVIDENCE — A new housing development in Providence will simultaneously address three key issues — affordability, climate change and workforce development — officials say, while also providing housing for five families.

On Monday, officials broke ground on the Sheridan Small Homes project, a community of five compact, affordable, zero-emissions homes being developed by One Neighborhood Builders, a community development nonprofit based in Olneyville.

“While modest in scale … this project is large in innovation,” said One Neighborhood Builders Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins, as she stood at the project site — a three-quarters-of-an-acre tract of land off Sheridan Street, adjacent to the affordable apartment complex Sixty King.

The homes, which will cost $289,200 each to develop, will be sold to income-qualified buyers for about $150,000 each, Hawkins said. Two of the homes will be reserved for families earning no more than 80% of the area median income, or $52,400 for a couple and $65,500 for a family of four. The other three homes are for families earning less than 120% of the annual median income, or $78,650 for a couple and $98,300 for a family of four.

The development, which will cost a total of about $1.4 million, is being funded through a variety of sources, including grants from the Rhode Island Housing Homeownership Investment Fund; Zero Energy for the Ocean State, a program in partnership with Rhode Island Housing; the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources and National Grid; Providence HOME, a federal program funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and distributed by the city; NeighborWorks America, a national organization supporting affordable housing efforts; and a $125,000 anonymous donation.

The 750-square-foot homes, designed by Rhode Island School of Design students, will be equipped with photovoltaic solar panels that will produce slightly more electricity than the homes use, meaning residents will have no electric bills and will likely be able to sell some electricity back to the grid, Hawkins said.

Triple-pane windows and 11-inch thick walls will make the homes super insulated while their placement in a semicircle is designed to maximize solar gain, Hawkins said.

The homes will each have two bedrooms and one-and-a-half bathrooms and will be able to accommodate a maximum of four people, she said.

For construction, One Neighborhood Builders is using 40 trainees with Building Futures Rhode Island, an organization that trains low-income people for skilled careers. The homes are expected to be ready by around December 2020.

Hawkins said 12 people have already inquired about reserving a home. Income-qualified homebuyers will likely be selected through a lottery system, but One Neighborhood Builders is still determining the process.

The project encapsulates solutions for three of the city’s most pressing issues and can hopefully be a model that can be replicated around the state, officials said Monday.

“The main point here is that we’re making a real impact in more than one arena, and that’s what counts,” said Andrew Cortes, director of Building Futures. “These are powerful goals and an incredible reason to celebrate.”

— Story by Madeleine List

Five small homes poised to become a giant step for RI

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Published in ConvergenceRI – October 28, 2019  

Full Article Here

PROVIDENCE – On Monday morning, Oct. 28, a ceremonial groundbreaking will take place in Olneyville for the innovative Sheridan Small Homes project, a community of five, very affordable compact small homes to be built along Riverside Park in Olneyville, in a new development being led by ONE Neighborhood Builders, a community development corporation. [Some of the work has already begun on site preparation.]

Among the dignitaries scheduled to attend and to speak are: Sen. Jack Reed; R.I Treasurer Seth Magaziner; Providence City Council President Sabina Matos; Bonnie Nickerson, director of Providence’s Planning and Development Department; and Carol Ventura, executive director of Rhode Island Housing.

Funding support for the Sheridan Small Homes project came from: Rhode Island Housing, NeighborWorks America, TD Charitable Foundation, HarborOne Bank, and the city of Providence.

At a time when two different reports published last week – the Rhode Island Life Index, a survey conducted by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island and the School of Public Health at Brown University, and the 2019 Housing Fact Book produced by HousingWorks RI – put the spotlight on the dire need for safe, healthy, affordable housing in Rhode Island, ONE Neighborhood Builders is taking action in creating an innovation solution, building a new development of five small homes, in an initiative that has the capability to be replicated and scaled up.

Translated, as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island moves forward with its plan to focus its Blue Angel philanthropy program next year on the development of more affordable housing in Rhode Island, perhaps it should consider how to invest in similar “small home” projects to replicate the development in other neighborhoods and communities across the state.

Quick turnaround
The ideas for a small home development were first discussed as part of a presentation at the Grow Smart RI conference in April of 2018. The gestation period from idea to design to securing financing to groundbreaking took about 18 months. And, if all goes according to plan, construction of the five small homes will be completed in 56 weeks, with new owners moving in sometime next fall, according to Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders.

“There will be five, single-family homes, part of a condominium community,” Hawkins told ConvergenceRI in a recent interview. One of the biggest benefits of being part of the condominium community, she continued, is that there will be an array of photovoltaic panels owned by the condo association. “The energy that they generate will cover the costs of the utilities for the five homes.”

Each of the new small homes will have two bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, with a footprint of about 825 square feet.

Because of the PV panels, Hawkins explained, there will be effectively no utility costs. “It will be an all-electric home; heat and electricity are provided, with the PV panels covering that,” she said.

The range of the sales price for the five homes will range from $140,000 to $165,000, according to Hawkins. “It may go a little lower, it may go a little higher, depending on where the market is in a year,” she said. Many of the buyers, Hawkins said, will only need to put down 5 percent, sometimes less, depending on what mortgage products are available.

“If you are renting right now, you very likely will pay less for you monthly mortgage, for a much higher quality home,” she said.

Inundated with interest
The potential high demand generated by folks who want to purchase one of the five homes, which come with income restrictions, has put ONE Neighborhood Builders in what Hawkins described as an interesting position.

“I believe that there will be a huge amount of demand and desire to buy these homes,” she said. “We’ve never had to do a lottery or a reservation system before [for are other developments], so we are researching some fair and equitable practices about how to do that. We are, frankly, inundated with interest, which is excellent. We’re trying to figure out how best to manage that fairly.”

Here is the ConvergenceRI interview with Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, which serves as the backbone agency for an expanded Health Equity Zone in Central Providence and continues to break new ground on projects in Olneyville to improve the built environment.

ConvergenceRI: I continue to be impressed by all the projects that you are involved with in Olneyville.
Thank you.

ConvergenceRI: It is remarkable that such a small group has developed such a large footprint in serving the Olneyville neighborhood.
We are getting larger, from a staff capacity standpoint. I was writing a grant report the other day and, in answer to the question: how many employees do we have, I calculated we now have 16 full-time-equivalent staff members, in a combination of full-time, part-time workers and consultants. It is pretty impressive.

ConvergenceRI: It seems that ONE Neighborhood Builders has positioned itself at the cutting edge of many initiatives, including the expansion of Health Equity Zones. It seems to me, for the first time, after five or six years of work, health equity and Health Equity Zones are becoming part of what I would call the vernacular of health policy.
That is true.

ConvergenceRI: In your opinion, how has health equity become more than just a phrase and been recognized as an underlying principle of development work?
 As the term, social determinants of health, has entered the lexicon of everyone who is doing this work. The R.I. Department of Health has done a very good job of promoting the brand of HEZ and health equity zones, which is a good thing; it benefits all the work we are doing.

But, I think you are right. It is more than just the terminology. There is an ethos of understanding that, it has almost become hackneyed at this point to say: what determines your health is your zip code.

Yes, it is more important than you cholesterol numbers…

ConvergenceRI: This morning, at the release of the Rhode Island Life Index, Kim Keck, the president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, said that “your zip code is more important than your genetic code.”
 There you go. It may be questionable; it might be true. I think the idea that there are these health disparities, where the life expectancy gap is 83 years on the East Side and 74 years in Olneyville is unconscionable.

When we think about those social determinants, we just keep coming back to the work that we’ve been doing since our founding, which is, comprehensive community development, working on the built environment, and then knitting together all of the social fabric to support residents and stakeholders to make a neighborhood thrive.

We can use the lens of social determinants when we speak about it, but I feel the work we have been doing has been pretty consistent.

And, fortunately, there is now a whole sector of systems that are paying attention, which is the health care ecosystem. But I wouldn’t say that we’ve changed our mission or changed our strategy.

ConvergenceRI: How do people in the neighborhood see it?
 I don’t think the person on the street would say, “I live in a community [that has] a health equity zone.” That doesn’t mean anything to anyone.

ConvergenceRI: How do they see the changes? Are they cognizant of the changes?
 Every two years, beginning in 2014, we have done a community needs assessment in Olneyville [as part of our HEZ work].

Now we’re branching out, and for the first time, we’re conducting a community needs assessment in the expansion neighborhoods of the central Providence HEZ, in Hartford Valley and Federal Hill.

What we’ve seen in Olneyville is that there has been a shift in perception around safety and community health.

When we ask: Do you see less abandoned blight? the residents say yes. Do you use the parks more often? Yes. Are you more likely, if you see a crime, to seek help form law enforcement? Yes.

So, these are proxies for measuring social efficacy, the idea that when you live in neighborhoods that are free of blight and crime and generalized disorder, you are a healthier person.

We think that this assessment that we’ve done can point to these perceptions. It really is a self-reported survey; it is by no means scientific. It is about [capturing] people’s perceptions.

ConvergenceRI: There are now a number of datasets, the Rhode Island Life Index being the latest one, to focus in on housing. The big announcement that accompanied the release of the Life Index today by Blue Cross was that the insurer’s Blue Angel Philanthropy grants program was going to be focused on affordable housing needs in Rhode Island.
 I applaud that decision.

ConvergenceRI: There were also the community needs assessments that were done by the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, which pointed to similar types of findings. The community needs assessments conducted by the HEZs were incorporated into the findings.
How important is it for the community to be at the table when policy decisions are being made?
 I think if there is a way to infuse the tri-annual needs assessment that the hospitals are required to do, to have that informed by the HEZs, that would be great. I think there are ways in which our information could be formalized in their tri-annual evaluation.

Not to understate the importance of hyper-localized data, and the uniqueness of communities, but I also think that there is a multitude of national data that shows that when someone has safe, affordable, healthy, secure housing, that their utilization of emergency services and, in general, their medical expenses, decrease as a consequence.

You don’t necessarily need to always show, well, that might be true in XYZ state, but isn’t true in Providence, in Rhode Island, or in Olneyville.

I do think you can extrapolate that, and I would encourage us to think about the fact this known and widely accepted. We don’t necessarily have to keep proving it locally.

ConvergencRI: In last week’s issue, I did a deep dive into what I saw was the lack of metrics as the state is taking over the Providence schools, about how they will measure success.
People are beginning to realize that investments in clinical approaches to health care are not going to change the health outcomes of what is happening in the neighborhoods, yet there is still a sense that we can solve all the education problems by focusing on the schools.
It strikes me that the same transformation that happened in health care around health equity also needs to happen with education: the realization that you can’t achieve your educational goals without addressing access to safe, affordable healthy housing.
 Yes. When I think about neighborhood revitalization, if you don’t address the built environment, you’re not going to be very successful. I am very sympathetic to the idea that we can’t say: Schools, fix everything. That’s unfair. And, you can’t say: Hospitals, fix everything; that’s really unfair.

But, there is a mutual benefit to all of these systems, when someone is able to have safe, affordable housing. It’s a shared responsibility. And, I don’t think that any one disagrees with that notion. Who would disagree with that?

ConvergenceRI: In terms of the small homes project, what are the opportunities to scale up the initiative in Rhode Island?
 Let me share some ideas that I would love to see replicated here in Rhode Island.

There is this project in Hartford, Conn., called the “Teachers’ Village,” it’s a full-circle development where there was an acknowledgement that you needed to build the homes where the teachers are in order to encourage people to live in the city in which they are working.

We’re developing four HeadStart classrooms for Children’s Friend, that is going to be co-located within an affordable housing development, called King Street Commons. There may be some employees of Chidlren’s Friend who would qualify for affordable housing.

It is not just thinking about affordable housing and then a community facility, but rather how does the community facility and affordable housing really knit together the community in a very intentional way.

I think as the small homes go, I think there is a huge potential for replication. The challenge that I see in scaling it up is the cost of building this net-zero energy, passive home. There is definitely a marginal increase in building not just to code, and not just to being green, but to building homes that are passive and net-zero.

We had to have in excess of 12-inch thick walls with superior insulation [for the Sheridan Small Homes] project.

We have triple pane windows. We needed to have this ERV [energy recovery ventilation] system, which cycles the air, because of the really tight envelope of the house. All of these additions cost a lot of money. And it raises the construction costs.

I feel a responsibility to try to build in the most ecologically sound way as possible. But it is difficult to marry that with affordable housing.

I would love to be able to do more of this, but I think that is the challenging piece. If we think about scaling this project up, we may have to scale it back to scale it up, if you will – making a very efficient home but necessarily making it passive and zero-energy.

ConvergenceRI: Could the possibility of replication of the small home project be with companies, as worker residences? As a way for companies to invest in their employees’ health and well being? As a way to reduce their administrative costs for health insurance?
: I like it.

How Healthy is Rhode Island?

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Kudos to the ProJo for this reporting.  ONE|NB is grateful to be the backbone of the Central Providence Health Equity Zone. We’re working with a dozen community organizations to address disparate health outcomes.  Shockingly, Olneyville’s life expectancy rate is only 73.  Affordable housing, family wage jobs, high-quality education – these are the social determinants to health we’re working on.

Read the article here.

ONE|NB Seeks Deputy Director

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We are excited to announce that ONE|NB is looking for a qualified individual to fill the newly-created Deputy Director position. For more information, please refer to the job description below. Interested applicants must e-mail a resume and thoughtful cover letter (with salary requirement) to Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director, at by December 19th.

ONE|NB is committed to creating a diverse environment and is proud to be an equal opportunity employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, genetics, disability, age, or veteran status.

The Deputy Director (DD) is a newly created position reporting to the Executive Director (ED). The DD will regularly serve as the ED’s surrogate at internal and external meetings and will supervise two departments, with a total team of 6 individuals. The DD’s position is a unique blend of two conventional positions, that of a director of real estate development and a chief financial officer. The DD will be an essential partner with the ED to help drive the agency’s strategic expansion and will be especially vital in ensuring the internal operations of the agency are adequately prepared for expansion. The ideal candidate is a mission-driven, entrepreneurial, highly skilled financial analyst, with verifiable real estate development acumen.

ONE Neighborhood Builders (ONE|NB) is a community development organization with a mission to promote equity, public health and community safety in Providence’s neighborhoods. We accomplish our mission through:
• Strategic real estate development to increase the availability of affordable homes, spur economic development, and protect our natural resources;
• Engagement of residents and community-based organizations to build trust and collective problem-solving;
• Development of individuals’ financial capabilities so that they may realize their personal asset building goals.
Olneyville Housing Corporation, founded in 1988, changed its name to ONE Neighborhood Builders when it merged with Community Works Rhode Island in 2015.
At full complement, ONE|NB has 16 full-time equivalent team members. ONE|NB is a NeighborWorks America charter member and is governed by an active Board of Directors consisting of ten members. The organization’s annual operating budget is ~$2.5 MM.


ONE|NB has developed over 500 affordable homes in historically-disinvested Providence neighborhoods since 2000. The agency presently owns 380 apartments, providing high-quality, affordable housing for Rhode Island families, including individuals who have experienced homelessness. ONE|NB has completed 10 Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects, totaling over $100 million of investment.

ONE|NB has developed more than 50,000 square feet of commercial space currently leased to twelve local businesses and community-based organizations – supporting entrepreneurs, artists, and child
development agencies. The agency will be breaking ground on an 8500sf Head Start center in spring of 2020.

New Projects
ONE|NB’s current development projects include: King Street Commons – a $17 MM project consisting of 30 new, affordable apartments that will replace a blighted and environmentally-contaminated site along with the preservation and recapitalization of 32 existing homes; Sheridan Small Homes – a five-unit affordable, zero-energy condominium development adjacent to the neighborhood’s park and bike path; Manton Live/Work Townhomes – four innovative mixed-use properties along the neighborhood’s commercial corridor with a living space, personal work-studio, and attached rental apartment; and Delaine Street Apartments – an eight-unit rental project that will replace three nuisance and abandoned properties with new housing for low-income families.

ONE|NB works with over 250 families per year providing budgeting assistance, credit counseling, financial capability coaching, homeownership education, as well as, eviction and foreclosure prevention – ensuring ONE|NB renters and home-buyers are financially secure and have the foundation to achieve their personal goals. ONE|NB recently opened its Elmwood Financial Center on Broad Street, which provides a central, highly visible, drop-in location where clients can request information, set up appointments, receive time-sensitive financial counseling and coaching, and attend classes.

Health Equity
ONE|NB leads the Central Providence Heath Equity Zone charged with reducing health disparities through place-based interventions in Olneyville and three adjacent Providence neighborhoods. As of summer 2019, the agency also manages a Community Health Worker Registered Apprenticeship program with five other local employers through which community members connect their peers to health and social services, provide social support, and promote self-advocacy.

Community Organizing
ONE|NB believes in the importance of meaningful resident engagement in community-building efforts. The agency is the convener of The Collaborative, a coalition of over 25 neighborhood organizations. The Collaborative hosts several annual projects including a community festival, a neighborhood clean-up, and a neighborhood newsletter. We also work with residents through the Homeowner’s Club to improve awareness of key community resources/events, identify and encourage advocacy around issues impacting residents, and provide valuable training opportunities to increase residents’ sense of being agents of change.

Strengthening Community Institutions
ONE|NB works closely with local service providers to connect individuals with vital resources to improve community health, education, and safety. In summer 2019, ONE|NB received an award through the RI Department of Education for the 5-year renewal of William D’Abate Elementary School’s afterschool and summer enrichment programming. This 21st Century Community Learning Center, a collaboration with Brown University’s Swearer Center, is intended to help students build academic skills and develop socially and emotionally, while teaching the value of responsible decision-making and critical thinking. Additionally, in June 2019, ONE|NB launched the Central Providence Healthy Aging Network, a membership “Village” designed to equip older adults with tools to age-in-community.

This full-time position is comprised of four key responsibilities:
• Real Estate Development and Management – overseeing a team of five team members (director of asset management, assistant director of asset management, assistant director of real estate development, design & construction fellow, and part-time real estate development consultant) the DD will lead and integrate all existing real estate activities, and work closely with the ED to expand and accelerate the real estate development pipeline. The work falls within three broad categories: (1) real estate production – with a focus on the creation of homes for extremely low- to moderate-income households; (2) asset management for the agency’s 381 apartments, two condominium associations, and 13 commercial spaces; and (3) property management for a small, but growing portfolio of apartments the agency self-manages.
ONE|NB seeks to diversify its real estate development activities – through geographic expansion, enhancing the income-diversity of its residents, utilizing new financing mechanisms, introducing innovative construction techniques, and developing new partnerships.
• Fiscal Management – the agency’s finances are complex and growing. The annual operating budget is approximately $2.5 million and the consolidated assets exceed $50 million. The agency is responsible for completing audits and annual filings for 12 affiliated corporate entities. Because of the nature of our work (real estate development), ONE|NB has an extensive notes payables schedule; refinancing/repositioning loans is often required and to do so the agency must maintain a complex collateral schedule. ONE|NB manages several large state contracts, and sub-contracts hundreds of thousands of dollars to community agencies; in this respect we act as a grant-maker. These state contracts require the tracking of federal/non-federal matching funds. The finance department is currently staffed by a senior accountant and part-time office manager/bookkeeper; these positions will report to the DD. The senior accountant also manages human resources for the agency.
ONE|NB seeks to strengthen the depth of its fiscal management through added personnel capacity, introduction of new technology to manage day-to-day accounting, production of improved financial reports and metrics to communicate fiscal status to stakeholders, and introducing new grant-tracking systems. The DD will serve as the bridge connecting fund-raising/earned-income development to financial management.
• Strategic development – as a member of the senior team (along with the director of community health integration and the director of resource development & communications) the DD will work closely with the ED to identify new areas of growth and offer advice on how best to capitalize on new opportunities. The DD will attend all board of director meetings and will represent the ED at internal and external meetings when the ED is not able to be present.

The successful candidate will be an experienced professional with an exceptional work-ethic, and committed to the vision and values of ONE|NB. In addition, the following standards will generally define the successful incumbent:
• Bachelor’s degree at a minimum, advanced degree (Masters’ Degree in Business Administration, Real Estate Finance, or Public Administration) strongly preferred;
• Minimum of 10 years senior management experience related to the following: real estate development, financial management, and/or public policy;
• Experience supervising staff, and leading teams through growth and change;
• Enjoys fast-paced work environment and collaborating with a broad diversity of staff and partners;
• Skilled at multi-tasking;
• Highly adaptable and comfortable with ambiguity in the workplace;
• Mission-driven and passionate about ONE|NB and related constituencies;
• Good sense of self and strong personal presence;
• Willingness to work hard and creatively solve problems for which the answers aren’t always obvious; and
• Knowledge of Rhode Island community development field and key stakeholders desirable, but not essential.
The DD will be required to work a full-time schedule with some flexibility required on nights and weekends. ONE|NB offers a robust benefits package (including health, dental, and vision insurance), a retirement plan with matching contribution, a generous allotment of paid holiday and personal/vacation time, flexibility to occasionally telecommute from home, and an inspiring & innovative organizational culture. Salary is competitive and commensurate based on experience.

Please e-mail a resume and thoughtful cover letter to Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director, at before December 19, 2019.