New R.I. housing director vows more affordable developments

R.I. SECRETARY of Housing Stefan Pryor, foreground, and Gov. Daniel J. McKee on Feb. 7 at an affordable housing project in Providence’s Olneyville neighborhood. / PBN FILE PHOTO / JACQUELYN VOGHEL

PROVIDENCE – A focus on housing production, addressing homelessness and building an organization to drive state-level work will serve as priority areas for newly appointed R.I. Secretary of Housing Stefan Pryor.

In his second official day in office, Pryor, previously the R.I. Commerce secretary, joined Gov. Daniel J. McKee and One Neighborhood Builders President and Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins on Tuesday afternoon at King Street Commons to address the state’s housing crisis.

All 62 units in the Olneyvillle modular home development, overseen by One Neighborhood Builders, meet state requirements for affordable housing.

Pryor said the state has made recent strides in funding housing, including the passage of a fiscal 2023 budget that includes a $250 million investment into housing, with $100 million of that amount set aside for affordable developments. But this money alone is not enough to solve the state’s housing issues, Pryor said.

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“There are enormous challenges in front of us,” Pryor said, “but it is so clear that Rhode Island is united with the conviction that we do more to produce housing at every income level, and that in doing so, we protect the vulnerable, including individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.”

This work will involve working with individual cities and towns to overcome prohibitory zoning ordinances, Pryor said, and must also address “housing stock across all income levels.”

“We do need to be deliberate about affordability across the board, inclusive of what some call workforce housing,” Pryor said

“That middle bracket is extraordinarily important,” he added.

Pryor, who succeeded Josh Saal as R.I. Secretary of Housing, said the state is developing “the beginnings of a housing department.”

Saal resigned last month following widespread criticism of inaction during his tenure.

McKee established the Rhode Island housing secretary role in 2021 to build the overall department and enact priorities identified in the state’s housing initiatives.

Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at

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