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Making an impact – one house at a time

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Blog post written by Jessica David and published by the Rhode Island Foundation on Monday, November 19, 2018. Read the full story, and more, here.

“Impact investing is about aligning financial investments with mission,” says Jessica David, executive vice president of Strategy and Community Investments at the Foundation. Last year, we began investing, beyond traditional grant making efforts, in Rhode Island-based efforts that generate measurable social impact and a financial return. Our goal is to invest up to 5 percent of our endowment in these types of investments. One Neighborhood Builders (ONB) is one of these investments.

Its Protecting Providence Property (P3) program is a pilot effort to develop an alternative method to provide affordable homes for “missing middle” income households – like those earning between $45,000 and $75,000 for a family of four.

“There is a group of Rhode Islanders not being served by typical affordable housing opportunities,” says ONB Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins. “Their income is too high to qualify for most subsidies but they make too little to afford market-rate housing.”

In the P3 pilot, ONB will purchase and rehab six properties in Providence (targeting Olneyville and Elmwood) and rent them to households in this missing middle. ONB hopes that, with its support, families will be able to purchase their properties as they build up housing security, financial capability, and savings.

“It would be fantastic if we could own this house one day.”

        — Eddie Vega

Eddie Vega and Waleska Chinea just moved into 7 Ticknor Street, the first of ONB’s P3 homes. They had to squeeze in the move around Eddie’s work schedule: six days a week, from 4 a.m. until whenever he finishes making deliveries for Yale Appliance & Lighting.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Eddie and Waleska came to Providence 11 years ago. She is 43, Eddie is 35. She reveals that she has known Eddie since he was a baby – their fathers played baseball together.

While living in a small apartment in the Hartford neighborhood, Waleska was longing to live in a house – a house with a yard where her grandchildren could play.

She discovered the Ticknor Street listing on Hotpad, contacted ONB, and looked at the property that same day. “It has always been my dream to have a house,” she says. Her dream came true two weeks later when, their application reviewed and approved, she and Eddie were handed the keys to the home where they now live with 11-year-old son, Jeddik.

“We found an angel in this program,” says Waleska. “We would not have been able to do this without them.”

“It would be fantastic if we could own this house one day,” adds Eddie, with a broad smile.

Former Providence knife factory finds new life as housing

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Article published by the Providence Journal on Tuesday, October 30, 2018.

$22-million affordable housing project at 60 King St. is completed with 60 units

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Between 1958 and 1988, hundreds of employees worked at the Imperial Knife Factory in Olneyville, manufacturing folding pocket knives, stainless steel cutlery and tableware.

Today, that same mill building boasts 60 new apartments for families of varying income levels.

“In the coming weeks, 60 families will come home to a beautiful apartment here,” said Dan Drazen, project manager for Trinity Financial, the developer of the $22-million affordable housing project at 60 King St., where politicians and housing officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday.

Forty-seven of the 60 units will be rented to families earning 60 percent of the area median income, which is up to $43,400 for a family of three. Seven will be rented to families earning 30 percent of the area median income, or up to $21,700 for a family of three. The remaining six units will be priced at market-rate levels, and there are five Section 8 vouchers available for the building. Section 8 is a federally-funded program that subsidizes housing for qualifying tenants.

The first 15 families are scheduled to move in on Thursday, according to Reza Aghamirzadeh, head of community development at Citizens Bank, a key investor in the project.

Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony was one in a string of recent ribbon cuttings at housing complexes around the state.

Last Friday, Rhode Island Housing, the state’s housing finance agency, announced the completion of renovations for 128 affordable apartments in Providence. On Monday, the agency cut the ribbon at the Branch Blackstone Development, a group of 46 rental homes for low- and moderate-income families in Pawtucket and Central Falls.

On Thursday, Rhode Island Housing will announce the completion of 96 affordable housing units in the Pascoag neighborhood of Burrillville.

But the development at 60 King St. represents not only the addition of 60 apartments to Providence, but the ongoing transformation of one of the capital city’s most rapidly-changing neighborhoods.

In recent years, Olneyville has seen many of its abandoned mills refurbished and repurposed into apartments and artists’ lofts as well as the construction of parks, a bike path and green space along the Woonasquatucket River.

“This transformation that you’re seeing here today is part of a 20-year effort,” said Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing. “Today we have a reclaimed river, a park where children play and do summer programming and grow food in the garden, rental housing, home ownership, senior housing, and today we add yet another piece — 60 King St.”

In the process of improving the neighborhood, Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, the agency that originally purchased the land at 60 King St. for development, said it’s important to make sure residents aren’t pushed out of the community.

“We really want to do it in such a way that the existing residents and existing businesses can stay here and flourish and not get kicked out,” she said.

ONE Neighborhood Builders does this by placing properties into the state’s Community Housing Land Trust, which ensures they remain affordable in perpetuity, Hawkins said. Also, when there are opportunities to lease ground floors of residential buildings for commercial use, Hawkins said her agency tries to find local businesses or nonprofits to rent to.

ONE Neighborhood Builders also has site control of land across the street from 60 King St., where Hawkins said her team is looking to develop King Street Commons, a project that will include 30 additional affordable units as well as four Head Start classrooms. Head Start is a federally-funded early education program for children of low-income families.

“We really believe that a comprehensive response to community development is the best way of going about it,” she said. ”…the success of Providence and the success of Rhode Island are inextricably linked to the success of its neighborhoods.”

— mlist@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7121

On Twitter: @madeleine_list

ONE|NB Awarded $600,000 by RI Foundation to Further HEZ Initiatives Addressing Social Determinants of Health

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Left to right: Larry Warner (Strategic Initiative Officer: Healthy Lives, RI Foundation), Neil Steinberg (President & CEO, RI Foundation), Ana Novais (Executive Director, RIDOH), Jennifer Hawkins (Executive Director, ONE|NB), Robert McMahon (Board Chair, ONE|NB), Allyson Plantz (Chief of Staff, ONE|NB), Lorraine Lalli (Board member, ONE|NB), Rochelle Lee (Board member, ONE|NB), Elmer Stanley (Board member, ONE|NB), Allegra Scharff (Community Building Manager, ONE|NB), and Kimberly Dennin (AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer, ONE|NB).

$3.6M in grants to combat health disparities announced by Rhode Island Foundation

Article published by the Providence Journal on Friday, October 19, 2018. Read more about this story on ABC6, Latino Public Radio, and PBN.

The grants, to six nonprofit organizations, will compliment efforts by the state Department of Health and other entities to reduce rates of illness and chronic disease that are higher in poorer areas of the state.

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Rhode Island Foundation president and CEO Neil D. Steinberg on Friday morning announced $3.6 million in foundation grants aimed at reducing health disparities in more than a dozen Rhode Island town and cities.

The grants, to six recipients, will complement efforts by the state Department of Health and other entities to reduce rates of illness and chronic disease that are higher in poorer areas of the state. People of color and with those with lower levels of education are disproportionately affected.

“Roughly 75 percent of your health status is influenced by social, economic and environmental factors related to where you live,” Steinberg told state, local and community leaders during a gathering at Progreso Latino. “Living a healthy life is more likely when you are part of a community that promotes health and healthy choices.”

“By working to address the underlying factors in communities that have the great effects on health outcomes, these grant recipients and Rhode Island’s Health Equity Zones are working to ensure that each and every Rhode Islander has an equal opportunity to live a long, full, healthy life,” health department Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, who is recovering from a sports injury, said in a media release distributed at the announcement.

Each of the six beneficiaries selected from 39 applicants will receive $600,000. They are: Progreso Latino; ONE Neighborhood Builders, Providence; South County Health, South Kingstown; Thundermist Health Center of West Warwick; Thundermist Health Center of Woonsocket; and the Women’s Resource Center, Newport.

“There is massive need,” said Progreso Latino executive director Mario Bueno. “A large percentage of residents live in poverty and are not fluent in English. They are disproportionately affected by social, economic and health disparities.”

Steinberg said the ambition of the grants and the efforts they enhance are “improving heath outcomes for Rhode Islanders, providing better healthcare, lower costs. … The strategies include increasing primary-care access, utilization and the quality of the care. Expanding alternative-care models and collaborations … and addressing the social determinants of health.”

Also, “improve the patient experience. Any of us — any of you — who have been patients know it’s not easy to navigate … how complex the healthcare system is. You couldn’t take a blank piece of paper and come up with something that’s more complex.”

Ana Novais, the health department’s executive director, said the grants “recognize the foundational work that we’ve been talking about as a health department through the health equity zones, the focus on the social determinants of health. … We can indeed make a difference. It is not a dream, it’s a reality that can be done when people and communities come together.”

Said Bueno: “It takes a village, and that’s why the health equity zones are so important, and that’s why this investment is so important to our multiple communities.”

The Journal has examined health disparities in stories and series, most recently earlier this month in “Health disparities in R.I.: Wellness tied to race, income, education and ZIP code.”

— gwmiller@providencejournal.com

(401) 277-7380

On Twitter: @GWayneMiller

 

ONE|NB is hiring!

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Now accepting applications for a full-time Program Associate. This individual would perform a range of essential office support functions from managing external communications to office administration and executive assistance (see description below). Interested applicants please e-mail a thoughtful cover letter and resume to Allyson at plantz@onenb.org.

The Program Associate is responsible for a range of essential office support functions for ONE Neighborhood Builders (ONE|NB), a non-profit community development organization based in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. This is a full-time position, with a competitive salary and full employee benefit package. The Program Associate reports to the Chief of Staff (COS).

Responsibilities
External Communications
• Compile and update resident demographic and neighborhood data
• Gather ‘good news’ stories from program staff for use in all communications
• Coordinate documentation for/of events, activities, etc. for use in publications, media, etc. and ensure appropriate releases are signed and filed; maintain graphics & photo files
• Assist with coordination and editing for marketing and donor communication vehicles both on and offline, including but not limited to newsletters, eNewsletters, donor appeals, etc.
• Manage content and images on ONE|NB’s website
• Manage ONE|NB’s social media presence via Facebook, email marketing, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
• Assist the COS in developing & updating general and program brochures, media kits, key messages, fact sheets, & other collateral material as needed

Executive Assistance
• Inform the COS of/schedule upcoming ED commitments; ensure appropriate and timely communication with all participants
• Assist the COS in preparing materials for all “critical path” ED meetings (e.g. meetings with current or potential ONE|NB partners, ONE|NB’s Board of Directors, Board Committees, funders, government officials, peer executives, etc.)
• Assist the Executive Director (ED)/COS with drafting narrative content for grant proposals and grant reports, as needed
• Work with the ED/COS to plan and execute neighborhood tours, partner site visits, and similar events
• Other duties as assigned

Office Administration
• Maintain office equipment, including all technology (computers, stamp machine, and copiers); serve as a secondary point of contact with these vendors
• Coordinate schedule for use of conference room
• Maintain Public Contacts database in Outlook
• Assist with photocopying, mailing, word processing and data entry as needed for all staff members, as approved by the COS or ED
• Make deliveries, run errands and conduct other administrative tasks as needed
• Maintain all centralized files
• Order office supplies and maintain inventory of supplies, as approved by the ED

Competencies/Qualifications
The ideal candidate will possess the following characteristics:
• At least two years of experience working in office administration in a fast-paced environment
• College degree preferred
• Technical proficiency in Microsoft Office (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
• Highly organized, proactive, and resourceful
• Polite, patient, and dispassionate/professional in all communications (internal and external)
• Passionate and committed to the vision and values of ONE|NB
• Flexibility to work nights and weekends, as needed
• Grant writing and/or experience managing external communications preferred

Other Duties
Please note this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities,
duties, or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and
activities may change at any time or without notice.

Unveiling of the 2B1 Neighborhood Sculpture

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Introducing the 2B1 Neighborhood sculpture (sponsored by Standard Communities), created by RISD artist Vaite Boosie. This sculpture was commissioned to commemorate the projects and initiatives that ONE|NB and it’s partners have achieved in Olneyville and Elmwood over the past 30 years. The piece mixes architectural elements from a traditional New England house with the overall structure of ONE|NB’s small home prototype; thus, celebrating the past and inspiring the future. Thanks to everyone who brought an item representing “community” to our 30th Anniversary Celebration to contribute to this meaningful work of art. It is now on display in our conference room at 66 Chaffee Street. Come check it out!

Here’s to 30 more!

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One final BIG THANK YOU to all of the guests and sponsors that came out to support us last Friday in celebration of our 30th anniversary. It was a packed house and it was so wonderful to be with friends, family, and key community partners on such a special day! We have accomplished a lot over the last three decades because of your collaboration & support, and we are so excited to see what the future will hold. Hats off to: Roger Williams UniversityFood4Good, Lynch & Greenfield, LLP, Bank of America, Standard CommunitiesOcean State Center for Independent Living (OSCIL)LISC Rhode IslandNational Equity FundThe Journey to Hope, Health & HealingFirst Realty Management Corp., and all of the other organizations and people that have supported us in one way or another over the years. Here’s to 30 more!