New Housing Works Rhode Island report highlights demand for housing bond

RHODE ISLAND historically has spent less than other New England states on housing improvements. / COURTESY HOUSING WORKS RI AT ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY

PROVIDENCE Although investments in housing bonds have led to the renovation or construction of 3,200 new housing units in Rhode Island in recent years, the need is far outstripping efforts to date.

That’s the conclusion of a new report by Housing Works Rhode Island at Roger Williams University. The report, Building Homes Rhode Island Status Report: Years of Accomplishments, found that three voter-authorized bond issues created $125 million in public funds for renewal of public, residential and commercial space.

That produced another $650 million in private investments.

Despite the housing creation, the state still has a lack of affordable apartments for many families. The state historically has under-invested in housing production compared to other New England states.

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The report found the average “housing wage” needed in Rhode Island to rent a modest, two-bedroom apartment is $21.16 an hour. But the average wage of renters in the state is just $14.21.

The report highlights the important work that has been done to provide more housing across Rhode Island, but also what lies ahead, said Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.

Rhode Island, per capita, invested $21.90 in affordable housing preservation in fiscal year 2018, she noted, compared to $100.88 for Massachusetts and $95.78 for Connecticut.

“We must make the necessary investments today, to ensure a prosperous future for Rhode Island and its residents,” she said.

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at

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