Jennifer Hawkins | Executive director, ONE Neighborhood Builders
1. What are your top priorities? My top priority is being a responsible steward of the resources the community has entrusted to ONE Neighborhood Builders. Our real estate development work helps protect the natural resources of this community, and we must ensure that the scarce financial resources available to ONE|NB are used responsibly to realize the greatest impact.
2. What inspired you to pursue a career in community development? I am very pragmatic, and this career path provides a genuine opportunity to create positive change that is tangible and meaningful. At its best, community development results in enduring positive change through strategic improvements to the built environment in partnership with the people, businesses and organizations who call that neighborhood home.
3. What is the greatest challenge affecting the neighborhoods served by the organization? I would say the greatest challenge affecting our neighborhoods is one that all communities in Rhode Island face, and that is the exceptional scarcity of affordable housing. … This is not an urban issue. New home starts have not kept pace with demand, and this is especially true in the entry housing market. As a result, renters who want to purchase a modest home are sitting on the sidelines. The low supply of starter homes, coupled with the lack of affordable apartments, is hurting Rhode Island’s economic growth.
4. You’ve worked in several cities. What does the Olneyville neighborhood have in its favor? Being able to know the neighborhoods in which we work, block by block, provides a unique perspective that I believe results in design principles that are responsive and human-centered. I’ve enjoyed working in San Francisco, New York City and Boston – and learned a lot from working in those diverse cities. I’m from Rhode Island and so working in Providence is by far my most rewarding professional experience.
5. Historically, foreclosures have hit Southside neighborhoods hard. Has the community stabilized? At its peak between 2009 and 2011, more than half of the foreclosures in Providence were concentrated in Southside neighborhoods. Fortunately, this trend has subsided. … Demand for foreclosure counseling has been overshadowed by demand for first-time homebuyer classes. Adequately preparing homebuyers is a crucial factor in preventing foreclosures later.
author: Mary MacDonald