Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, testifies before the State Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, April 7, 2022. Screengrab from CapitolTV (Watch entire testimony).
PROVIDENCE — Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, testified before the State Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, April 7, 2022, along with other housing advocates in favor of boosting the State’s investment of ARPA funds for housing, tax stabilization incentives, and the the historic tax credit.
Hawkins urged the State Senate to increase the $250 million in federal ARPA funds recommended by Governor Dan McKee to $500 million, suggested by the HomesRI coalition.
“We have often heard that there’s a concern that if there was $500 million allocated that it could be spent. Is there enough capacity in the development community? Are there enough projects in the pipeline? An the answers to those questions are unequivocally, yes.,” Hawkins testified. “There is verifiable evidence that there is capacity, there is a pipeline, but for capital, there are projects that are currently sitting on the sidelines that could be developed.”
Hawkins referenced a forecast produced by members of the Housing Network of Rhode Island that demonstrated that 1,900 units could be produced in three years for about $480 million just by its 17 members.
She also testified in favor of the state’s tax stabilization agreement, which she said would require a developer receiving public benefit to provide one in return, like setting aide affordable housing, a benchmark of ONE|NB proposals. In addition, Hawkins argued in favor of the Historic Tax Credit, which ONE|NB has used on many of its past developments.
“It is a vital source and one that I strongly advocate reigniting for the state,” she said. “It brings in private equity and it can close important gaps in financing.”