This Week's Poll

Should the state sell another bond to support the construction of affordable housing?

Posted 3/18/12

The General Assembly is again considering putting a question on the fall ballot authorizing the selling of a bond to support the construction of affordable housing.

The last such $50 bond leveraged many times its value in private investment and helped create much-needed affordable housing in the state.

But given the dire straits the state is in, should it be taking on more debt, no matter how noble the cause?

6 comments on this story | Add your comment
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Anita

This really depends on what kind of affordable housing we're talking about. Is this a hand out or a hand up? Is it for our low-income seniors? Single (never-married, divorced, widowed) mothers (or fathers) with kids? 2-parent families made homeless by foreclosure? Victims of domestic violence? Parolees?Homeless veterans? People with disabilities? Chronic substance abusers/addicts? The working poor?

IMHO, too often the focus on "affordable housing" has redirected our view of the problem from where we should be looking: the failure of our education system to graduate students (who have actually achieved competency in subjects) who then cannot get jobs that pay a living wage, foolish young women who have children they cannot afford and do not know how to raise, a broken immigration system, our failed systems of managing people with chronic drug and alcohol abuse - many of whom are veterans who deserve our support, the broken promises of community housing that lead to deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill or developmentally disabled....which of these are we speaking of? Which of these people do we want to lend a hand to? - and again, is this a hand UP or a hand OUT?

And then - what will we get in return? We are past the days of being able to offer unlimited help to people who are happy to take it. There MUST be a return on our investment. We want to know what it is, when we can expect it, and what systems are in place to ENSURE that the payback will be real. In other words, how will this affordable housing help the RI economy get back on track? Because otherwise, many of the overtaxed hardworking people who live in RI would like to see many of these "moochers" move right along to another state.

Monday, March 19, 2012 | Report this
WilliamWalwyn

This is an investment in the state. Anyone who understands good business understands that you have to invest money to make money. Given how expensive the state has become, and trouble in our construction industry, this isn't just a housing bond, this is relief bond. We put down the money, and we'll gain from it, allowing us to grow again in better times.

Recessions like these are exactly the times when governments need to take on debt; in good times, we can pay down that debt. This shouldn't be a question of debt, but rather outcomes. Are we willing to suffer high housing costs and high unemployment, or are we willing to mitigate both of those through this bond?

Monday, March 19, 2012 | Report this
OrangesPoranges

"Affordable" housing development ends up burdening current homeowners thousands of dollars in additional property taxes. Why? Because new affordable housing developments mean more children moving into a city or town, and adding to the cost of public education. I have seen my property taxes nearly triple in the last ten years, and there's a strong correlation between that and the addition of nearly 200 "affordable" apartments three miles down the road. The apartments are owned by a nonprofit (read tax exempt), and the people who live there aren't paying any property taxes, so the burden has fallen on the rest of us. All the while, our property values are falling through the floor because unemployment is so high. This state needs to focus on the jobs that are needed to help people afford to buy and rent the homes we already have in the housing stock.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 | Report this
Mike123

Most affordable housing developments, even those owned by nonprofits, are not exempt from local property taxes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Report this
nlagace@HousingWorksRI.org

Building Homes Rhode Island is the state program established by state’s Housing Resources Commission to disburse the $50 million housing bond overwhelmingly supported by voters back in 2006. The program has been very successful in providing quality homes for low-wage Rhode Island workers, individuals with disabilities, young working families, the formerly homeless, veterans, and the elderly.

But more than that, Building Homes Rhode Island has helped area businesses, communities, and the state’s economy overall:

-> The $50 million invested have multiplied nearly 16 times throughout the state economy generating about $800 million in total economic activity.

-> Construction activity supported by BHRI accounted for 53 percent of the total estimated cost of residential construction permitted in Rhode Island from 2007 to 2010.

-> At a time of record-high unemployment numbers, BHRI supported 6,100 jobs in Rhode Island.

Neighboring states like Connecticut and Massachusetts have dedicated funding streams supporting the development and operation of long-term affordable homes and include housing bonds as part of their capital budgets.

For Rhode Island to remain truly competitive in attracting and retaining businesses and growing a vibrant workforce, the state must maintain its investment in the development and operation of long-term affordable homes.

Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Report this
ross.cann@a4arch.com

This is a perfect opportunity to acquire some urban housing at fire sale prices, do some renovation and sell the property to lower income buyers who will pay taxes and secure those neighborhoods. No hand out---only a hand up for hard working individuals who need to get on the first rung of home ownership. This will help combat further deterioration in these neighborhoods and help keep property values (and taxes) from falling further so this may end up be a net positive income for the State in the long run.

Friday, March 23, 2012 | Report this
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