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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 rifoundation.org/censusgrants.

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.

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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 mlist@providencejournal.com

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.
HAWKINS: 
Thank you.

ConvergenceRI: It is remarkable that such a small group has developed such a large footprint in serving the Olneyville neighborhood.
HAWKINS: 
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.
HAWKINS: 
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?
HAWKINS:
 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.”
HAWKINS:
 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?
HAWKINS:
 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?
HAWKINS:
 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.
HAWKINS:
 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?
HAWKINS:
 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.
HAWKINS:
 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?
HAWKINS:
 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?
HAWKINS
: 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.

Five Questions with Jennifer Hawkins

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Interview by Mary MacDonald, Providence Business News – October 2, 2019

PBN: Is this the first net-zero home in Providence, and what does that mean?

HAWKINS: I think it’s the first affordable [one], targeted to low- and moderate-income households. A deed-restricted property. It’s a passive home. That means the systems and the siting and the materials of the home are done in such a way as to use the natural environment. We have triple-pane windows. We have an all-electric system. All of these things make the home extremely efficient.

PBN: Tell me what the Sheridan Small Homes are, and how small are they?

HAWKINS: We decided to call them Sheridan Small Homes because they really are small. They’re 825 square feet. That is smaller than a traditional, single-family home. … Historically, we’ve built small starter homes. In recent times, anything less than 1,000 square feet wasn’t really built, and I think that we should go back in that direction.

PBN: What is the advantage of a smaller house and footprint?

HAWKINS: The land upon which we are constructing these condominiums is three-quarters of an acre. But yet we are still able to do five single homes. So, we are more densely using land. And because they’re smaller homes, there [are] less materials that you’re using to construct the home. And for this property, because of the passive and net-zero standards, we’re able to keep the construction costs at a nice level … [and] increase the efficiency of the project.

PBN: How are they going to be occupied when completed?

HAWKINS: It’s a condominium development, so there will be five units within the condominium. They will have shared amenities. Within the condominium fees will be costs for snow removal and landscaping. The condominium agent will own the solar panels. The panels will produce electricity to benefit the five properties. There will be a range of [sale] prices. There are slight differences in the homes and the styles of the homes. Two will be sold for families not exceeding 80% of [area median income]. Three will be sold to households not exceeding 120% of AMI. Right now, we’re saying between $135,000 and $165,000. A year from now, when we put them on the market, we’ll figure that out.

PBN: Do you already have people inquiring about them?

HAWKINS: Yes, we do. After we break ground, we will allow people to make a reservation. We are talking with our attorneys about a document that would allow people to put $100 [down] for a reservation of a home. We can’t do a purchase and sale agreement until the homes are built. … We’ve never done a lottery before. … We may end up having to do a lottery.

ONE Neighborhood Builders, Building Futures and RISD Team Up to Create Eco-Conscious Small Home Community

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PROVIDENCE, RI – Community-based developer, ONE Neighborhood Builders, is beginning construction on a zero-energy, small home community this fall. The Sheridan Small Homes project will bring five new, very affordable, “passive”, compact homes to the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. The project was originally posed as a challenge by ONE Neighborhood Builders to Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) students in professor and architect Jonathan Knowles’ studio to address issues of increased housing unaffordability and climate change. The selected designs are now ready for construction.

“By building smaller we are consuming less resources: land, materials, energy and financial support,” said Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of ONE Neighborhood Builders. “At 825sf, these two-bedroom, 1.5 bathroom homes, adjacent to the park and bike path, will be striking additions to the urban landscape, while remaining very affordable for prospective buyers.”

“The Sheridan Small Homes project strengthens our Olneyville neighborhood and surrounding communities by creating greater affordable housing options at a reduced impact to our environment,” said Mayor Elorza. “This project is part of our RePowerPVD Race to Zero Challenge, where participants strive to develop the first energy-zero buildings in the City as a way to help Providence meet its ambitious climate goals and we look forward working with partners to create more sustainable, affordable housing opportunities for residents in the future.”

Innovative design elements and materials give the homes their passive qualities. Siting to maximize solar gain, triple glazed windows, advanced framing techniques, thick walls with layered mineral wool and blown-in fiberglass insulation, an advanced high efficiency energy recovery ventilation system, and high R-value building envelope with minimum air infiltrations all work to significantly reduce the home’s energy consumption. To provide that energy, homes will be equipped with photo-voltaic solar panels sized to produce slightly more energy than the homes consume.

The homes will be constructed as a training program of Providence-based not-for-profit Building Futures, an organization that meets industry need for skilled workers through the Registered Apprenticeship system while creating high-wage career opportunities for low income adults.

“Our partnership with ONE Neighborhood Builders on this project is a tremendous opportunity to extend the impact of each agency” said Andrew Cortes, Executive Director of Building Futures. “Sheridan Small Homes has a powerful multiplying effect in our neighborhoods: affordable homes with a lasting positive environmental impact, built by individuals that gain skills needed to launch their family-sustaining careers and change their lives.”

The groundbreaking event will be held on October 28th at 10:30am where U.S. Senator Jack Reed will share his words of support for the project. Senator Reed remarked, “Creating more affordable housing must be a priority, and ONE Neighborhood Builders is undertaking an innovative new project to do just that. Their Sheridan Small Homes project provides residents with high-quality, energy efficient homes. It also contributes to the revitalization of the neighborhood and gives our future builders the opportunity to develop new skills through the Building Futures apprenticeship system.”

Also in attendance will be General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Providence City Council President Sabina Matos, Director of the City of Providence’s Planning and Development Department, Bonnie Nickerson, and the Executive Director of RIHousing, Carol Ventura. “RIHousing is proud to be supporting the development of these five homes,” said Ms. Ventura. “We launched the Homeownership Investment Fund last year to spur the construction of workforce housing; this is our first “HIF” project to break-ground and we look forward to supporting the expansion of this important model of housing.”

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.