Rents and asking prices keep climbing as the number of apartments and houses on the market flattens or falls. Is there any relief in sight?
By Patrick Anderson | firstname.lastname@example.org | On Twitter: @PatrickAnderso_
The Providence Journal
Rhode Islanders looking for a new place to live have found their options limited in recent years, particularly if they don’t manage a hedge fund.
Rents and asking prices keep climbing as the number of apartments and houses on the market flattens or falls.
Last week, the median sales price of a single-family house in the state broke $390,000, according to the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, meaning it’s jumped roughly a third in the last two years.
Over that same time span the number of properties on the market was cut in half.
Where did all the homes for sale go?
One answer is: We forgot to build them.
“Rhode Island definitely is not building the housing we need. Full stop.” – Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders in Providence
Since the Great Recession, residential construction in the Ocean State has lagged the rest of the country by a significant margin, according to available Census Bureau statistics.
Last year, Rhode Island approved the construction of 1,374 new housing units, fewer than any other state, according to the bureau’s Residential Permit Survey, and a national low of 4,068 over the last three years.
There’s reason to believe that’s an undercount (more on that later), but less reason to think that Rhode Island’s numbers are undercounted more than other small, old, cold Northeast states.
Rhode Island remains at the bottom in housing production when population is factored in. The 1,374 units approved last year are 125 for every 100,000 residents. Connecticut approved 152 units per 100,000 residents last year, and Massachusetts 242 units.
“We need production. We need to start at the lower income levels, but we need housing at every level,” said Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation and a member of the House affordable housing study committee.
“This is a national issue and not a new issue, but we just keep falling further behind,” said Rhode Island Foundation CEO Neil Steinberg, a member of the House study commission examining the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, the state’s primary, and most would say inadequate, affordable housing law.
“We need production,” Steinberg said. “We need to start at the lower income levels, but we need housing at every level. We get a [housing] bond every once in a while, but it takes time to spend.”
“Rhode Island definitely is not building the housing we need. Full stop,” said Jennifer Hawkins, executive director of ONE Neighborhood Builders in Providence, a nonprofit developer of low- and mixed-income housing.