Jennifer Hawkins, President and Executive Director of ONE Neighborhood Builders, praised the 2024 budget for its investment in social determinants of health and urged the state to prioritize the lowest income and unhoused residents. In an interview with The Public’s Radio, Hawkins applauded the speaker for allocating $10 million more for housing than the governor and called for a quick and effective process to distribute the funds to those most in need.
JENNIFER HAWKINS, president and executive director of One Neighborhood Builders: “For those of us who care passionately that everyone deserves safe, affordable, and stable housing, the 2024 budget should be considered a win. While I would have certainly liked to have seen more funding assigned to housing production, it is commendable that the speaker allocated $10 million above and beyond the governor’s supplemental budget proposal. A budget is a moral document and by maintaining current sales tax levels and making smart investments in ‘upstream’ social determinants of health — such as quality housing — Rhode Island is making a statement. Now we must ensure these housing dollars are spent on projects that will truly serve our lowest income neighbors, especially persons who are unhoused, and it will be incumbent upon Secretary Pryor and the Housing Department to quickly build a process that accomplishes that goal. A budget is clearly also an economic document. According to the recent analysis ONE Neighborhood Builders’ commissioned Faulkner Associates to complete, we know that Medicaid costs dropped 43% among RI Medicaid members who had access to our permanent supportive housing compared with other Medicaid members who remained in shelters. We can’t let our foot off the gas — let’s get resources out the door and recognize the same level of investment is required annually to move RI out of this housing crisis.”