We were pleased to welcome Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and other State leaders and housing officials to Sutton Place in East Providence on Wednesday morning to talk about the need for affordable housing. McKee announced an emergency infusion of $5 million to buy additional beds for the homeless, and he discussed a previously announced $29-million down payment that his administration has proposed spending on affordable housing initiatives.
The 36 Sutton Place apartments, in two buildings located at 54 and 60 Sutton Avenue, are known as naturally occurring affordable housing, or NOAH, which involves the purchase of modest homes that meet the needs of the affordable housing market but are at risk for escalating rents. The apartments will become deed-restricted so they remain affordable in the long-term.
ONE Neighborhood Builders purchased the apartments in the spring of 2021 and is planning to renovate them in early 2022. Once construction is completed, rents for the apartments will be set at affordable amounts for households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income. The rental amount will be approximately one-third of household income.
ONE|NB Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins emphasized that housing advocates in the state have proposed that Rhode Island should invest $500 million of American Rescue Plan Act funding to protect, produce, and preserve affordable housing in Rhode Island.
“We believe that this is the bare minimum that should be allocated for this very essential challenge that Rhode Island is facing,” Hawkins said. “I want to stress the issue of protecting. Between 2008 and 2018, Rhode Island lost 13,400 naturally occurring affordable apartments. If we don’t protect the affordable housing that exists, such as exemplified by Sutton Place, then all the production will not close the supply gap.”
The Sutton Place buildings will make East Providence the seventh of Rhode Island’s communities to meet the state’s goal that 10 percent of each city’s or town’s housing stock qualifies as low- and moderate-income housing.
“The goal of this initiative is to increase the supply of quality, affordable and supportive housing,” McKee said. “We need to make these investments right now. But this is just a down-payment on our economic recovery. There’s much more we should do over the long term in areas such as infrastructure, climate change, public health, aging healthy in the state of Rhode Island, education, small businesses and housing.”
Also speaking on Wednesday were Deputy Executive Director of RIHousing James Comer, East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, and Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor.