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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.

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!

New Position at ONE|NB: AmeriCorps Resident Services Coordinator

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ONE Neighborhood Builders is currently recruiting a full time AmeriCorps Volunteer for its locations in the Olneyville and Elmwood neighborhoods in Providence. AmeriCorps member will receive a biweekly living allowance of $580, pre-taxes. The member will receive training as a part of their service. The AmeriCorps Resident Services Coordinator (RSC) will focus on assisting residents to be successful in finding and keeping housing and in improving their economic stability. The RSC will provide tenant education to both prospective and current tenants aimed at helping them acquire and maintain safe, affordable, and healthy housing. The RSC will provide information and referrals that focus on housing success, crisis intervention, employment, education, and health and safety. The RSC will follow‐up on notices given to residents and work proactively to decrease the number of notices that result in evictions. The position will work with the Property Managers and Program staff to assist with program outreach and marketing materials. The RSC will attend and coordinate other special yearly events. The position will work closely with Property Management, Housing Network staff, and Accessing Home staff.

The RSC is responsible for delivering 4 programs at Olneyville, Elmwood and in the broader community:
1) Rent RIte: A classroom-based program designed to prepare prospective tenants for successful tenancy. The course focuses on budgeting, credit, and the rental process.

2) Back on Track: An eviction prevention program that provides counseling and individualized interventions to residents at-risk of eviction.

3) Resident Services: Property-based community asset mapping, resource referral services, and community events.
Potential applicants can search for the Accessing Home AmeriCorps program on the AmeriCorps website (my.americorps.gov) or they can visit the Accessing Home website to find a link to the online application. All applicants must apply through the Accessing Home application, not the MyAmeriCorps.gov website; however, a paper copy of the online application is available upon request for applicants who may need special accommodations. A PDF of the application can be viewed here. In addition to the Accessing Home application, applicants must submit up-to-date resumes.

Applicants must follow the minimum requirements below:
• Be at least 18 years of age
• Possess a high school diploma or GED
• Be either a U.S. Citizen, U.S. National, or Legal Permanent Resident
• Never have been convicted of a sex crime or murder
• Candidates may not work for your organization in another capacity during their term of service
• The populations in the Olneyville/Elmwood neighborhoods necessitates the need for bi-lingual applicants.

Accessing Home is committed to recruiting a diverse corps of AmeriCorps Members.

All Accessing Home AmeriCorps candidates must submit an application and resume in order to be considered for the program.

***Resumes should be sent to Laura Roach lroach@neighborworksbrv.org. and Steve Kearns kearns@onenb.org.***

The application can be found at this link: https://goo.gl/forms/r2IzOstOlSbHume33

For information on the position in Olneyville and Elmwood contact Steve Kearns kearns@onenb.org 401-351-8719 Ext. 119

If you have any questions regarding enrollment or selection of the AmeriCorps members, please contact the Accessing Home Program Manager:
Laura Roach lroach@neighborworksbrv.org 401.257.6236

Long-Standing Collaboration Behind Another Successful Event in Olneyville

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There are two stories to be told of the 5th annual Summer Safety Slam event held on August 8th at Joslin Parkin the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence.  One is about bringing residents and police together for a fun-filled, free evening in the park.  The second, and lesser told story, is of the longstanding collaborations that made this possible.

For close to 20 years, Olneyville residents, community groups and local businesses have worked together to organize community initiatives through the Olneyville Collaborative.  Since the introduction of the Health Equity Zone initiative, these collaborations have grown stronger due to increased communication and overlapping work of individuals and agencies. These initiatives, including the Olneyville community newsletter, spring clean-up “Olneyville Shines”, the Fall Festival, and the Summer Safety Slam reach thousands of residents each year.

What does this collaboration look like? At the Summer Safety Slam, it was a resource fair made possible by borrowing tables from collaborative network members and free children’s activities in the field.  Abelardo Hernandez, a founding Collaborative member and Olneyville resident, had the Guatemalan Soccer League run games with children on the soccer field while the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence and the Providence Police Department hosted a basketball game on the courts.  The relationships built by regularly working and meeting together has bred collective responsibility for the community and each other.

Collaboration is also about pitching in for the less glamourous work: William D’Abate Elementary School and Joslin Recreation Center opened their doors to hold supplies that could not be picked up until the following day while staff from Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, YouthBuild Preparatory Academy, the Providence Police Department, and Greater Providence YMCA worked to make sure everything was in its place and to troubleshoot when bouncy houses and generators proved more difficult to move than expected.

While these collaborations are widely unseen and not the aim of our events, without them, these initiatives would not be possible.

Councilwoman Sabina Matos summed up this sentiment by stating, “The Summer Safety Slam brought over 250 neighbors together to play, build trust, and to learn about the variety of community programs that benefit all of us. I was very happy to take part again this year.  Olneyville is a community on the rise and that’s in no small part due to dedicated partners who make up the Olneyville Collaborative!”

Executive Director Participates in Forum on Revitalization and Gentrification in Providence

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Last Friday, May 25th, ONE|NB’s Jennifer Hawkins was one of several pivotal community leaders invited to participate in a forum on Revitalization and Gentrification in Providence. The event was held downtown at the Roger Williams University Providence campus, and moderated by Brenda Clement, Director of Housing Works RI. The presentation and discussion were focused on the first publication in the new Housing Works RI Scholar Series entitled “You Don’t Have a Problem Until You Do: Revitalization and Gentrification in Providence, RI”, by Fay Strongin. Other panelists included Teresa Guaba, of Providence Children & Youth Cabinet, Ana Novais, from the Rhode Island Department of Health, and Dr. Taino Palermo, of the Roger Williams University School of Continuing Studies.

ONE|NB Receives $15,000 In Financial Literacy Charitable Contribution From Citizens Bank

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Effort also leverages the financial expertise of more than 400 Citizens bankers who volunteer with local nonprofits to teach consumers how to manage their money better

PROVIDENCE, RI — As part of its ongoing commitment to give consumers the confidence and tools they need to reach their potential, Citizens Bank announced today that eight nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island will receive $140,000 in contributions as part of the Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money financial literacy initiative.

The Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money program is a yearly effort by the bank to teach financial literacy throughout the communities it serves. This year, the bank will provide more than $1.5 million in contributions to 80 nonprofits in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.  The program will help people obtain a better understanding of financial topics ranging from the basics of checking accounts to the intricacies of household budgeting and long-term financial planning.

Citizens Bank also offers helpful tips on its website for consumers to learn how to budget and save as well as advice on how to save to buy a home, seek identity protection and more. The bank is also inviting those interested in learning more about money management to follow along on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to learn and share tips about topics such as goal-setting, saving, and managing credit. The bank’s Community Ambassadors will offer their real-world tips on saving and money management.

“Through Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money, we support organizations that help our neighbors and communities grow by improving their understanding of how to manage their finances,” said Barbara Cottam, Rhode Island Market Executive, Citizens Bank.  “As partners in our shared mission to improve financial stability among all of the citizens of Rhode Island, we are proud to make these awards to the deserving nonprofits working to help our communities reach their potential.”

The funding recipients in Rhode Island and how the money will be used:

  • Amos House – To support the Financial Opportunity Center and provide opportunities for participants to build credit and assets.
  • Connecting for Children and Families, Inc. – To provide critical financial literacy workshops, one-on-one financial coaching, and free tax prep services.
  • Crossroads Rhode Island – To provide financial education to homeless and recently-housed people transitioning to housing and/or employment.
  • Genesis Center – To support Bridges to Career Opportunities which provides comprehensive job training to help low-skilled individuals bridge the “skills gap” and attain financial success.
  • Junior Achievement of Rhode Island, Inc. – To support financial literacy programs for students.
  • Olneyville Housing Corporation (ONE|NB) – To support the “ONE HUB” Project to expand homeownership education and financial capability.
  • Pawtucket Central Falls Development – To provide clients with the core financial knowledge to establish a financially fit future.
  • United Way of Rhode Island, Inc. – To support free tax preparation and financial counseling for low-income families.

Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money is part of the bank’s broader Citizens Helping Citizens program, which addresses three key areas: hunger, financial education and strengthening communities.

For additional information on Citizens Helping Citizens Manage Money, visit Citizens’ website.

Source: Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

ONE|NB Team Honored at 4th Annual State House Meet & Greet

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Featured (left to right): Karelin Marcia, Stephen Kearns, Jennifer Hawkins, Jordan Durham, Barbara Fields, Rosa Pastor, Allegra Scharff, Aurélien Alphe & Allyson Plantz

ONE|NB was recently honored at the RIHousing Meet and Greet & 45th Anniversary Celebration for being an instrumental partner in the transformation of communities across the state. In addition to the awards ceremony, attendees were treated to videos from each partner organization summarizing their work, and a review of the RIHousing 2017 Annual Report. Of the many projects mentioned in the report, ONE|NB was recognized for its partnership work on the 60 King Street “Imperial Knife Factory” property in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence. The coalition, spearheaded by Trinity Financial with support from ONE|NB and SWAP, Inc., has initiated a $22 million renovation project that will reconnect the former mill to the surrounding neighborhood through the creation of apartments for up to 60 families. The new apartments will range from studios to three-bedroom units with lofts, and include an on-site fitness center, kids’ play space, and a community room for residents. “We want to ensure that families who currently live in this neighborhood will enjoy greater health outcomes, safety, and economic independence,” says Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of ONE|NB. “At the same time, we want to attract new families here.”

You can read more about the event & other honorees here.