PROVIDENCE – Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse joined Omni Development Corp., WinnDevelopment and Rhode Island Housing on Monday to celebrate the opening of 83 new or completely rebuilt rental homes in Providence’s West End.
Also joining the group were the representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Rhode Island Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
“This is a great example of how federal, local and private partners can work together to revitalize a neighborhood. I am pleased that over $3 million in federal funds helped spark this transformation. We are working to build a vibrant, walkable, family-friendly community,” said Reed in prepared remarks.
The development, Phoenix Apartments, consists of 83 new or completely rebuilt rental homes located on several properties along Althea, Waverly, Bellevue, Hanover, Cranston and Waldo streets, as well as community space on Cranston Street. The new development “transformed” 22 formerly dilapidated and foreclosed multifamily homes, as well as one vacant storefront using “sustainable, energy-conserving building techniques,” said a release.
“We must find innovative ways to preserve and protect neighborhoods with a high number of foreclosed properties,” said Whitehouse in a statement. “These new housing units will help revitalize Providence’s West End neighborhood, and provide safe, affordable housing options for Rhode Island families who need help getting back on their feet.”
“These new affordable rental homes are a perfect example of turning a liability into an asset,” Chafee said in a statement. “These formerly abandoned and foreclosed buildings – which previously were a risk to the community in terms of fire or vandalism – will now provide safe and affordable housing to Rhode Islanders in need. This ribbon cutting is good news for Providence’s West End, and projects such as this, which transform an unused and dilapidated building into a community asset, are good news for Rhode Island.”
According to a release, there was broad-based community engagement in which the tenants and residents of the area played a role in planning the development of the apartments. Collaboratively, they named the development in order to “reflect the hope arising from this $21 million investment in the Providence’s West End community out of the wreckage of distressed and abandoned properties.”
Among the funding sources were Rhode Island Housing financing, HOME, LeadSafe Homes Program, Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the 2006 voter-supported housing bond, Building Homes Rhode Island, Bank of American Merrill Lynch and Housing Credits.
As part of HUD’s approval for the re-development plan, the development was required to remain as 83 apartments with the exact same bedroom count currently identified in the Section 8 contract. All of the apartments have Section 8 rental assistance, which allows each household to pay 30 percent of its income for rent.