Pryor named new R.I. housing secretary as part of department leadership restructuring

PROVIDENCE – The state’s former commerce secretary will now shift his attention to housing at the request of Gov. Daniel J. McKee.

The governor’s office announced Wednesday that McKee has asked Stefan Pryor to serve as the state’s new housing secretary in an effort to restructure the R.I. Office of Housing and Community Development’s leadership team. Additionally, McKee will nominate Pryor to serve as chairman of the R.I. Housing and Mortgage Finance Corp.’s board of commissioners.

Also, Hanna Moore, who was previously the state’s assistant commerce secretary with R.I. Commerce Corp., will now be the executive director of the Housing Resources Commission, which develops statewide housing plans, programs and systems. McKee’s office said Moore will also serve as the state’s assistant housing secretary.

Pryor previously served as the state’s first commerce secretary since 2015 until this past June when he resigned in order to run for state treasurer this past election year. Pryor subsequently lost his bid for treasurer in the September Democratic primary to eventual winner and former Central Falls mayor James Diossa.

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Both Pryor and Moore will start their new roles on Feb. 6.

The restructuring of the housing office comes in the wake of former housing secretary Josh Saal resigning from the position on Jan. 11. House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, who sponsored the original legislation that created the cabinet position, released a statement last week reiterating his “disappointment in the lack of progress” under Saal’s leadership, citing housing reports recently submitted to the R.I. General Assembly that he said were “inadequate.”

Now, Pryor, McKee’s office said, will oversee Rhode Island’s housing efforts, establish the state’s new housing department and position the department to fulfill the McKee administration’s “vision of increasing housing opportunities to serve all Rhode Islanders – across income levels and communities.”

“It’s important for us to come together around our common mission, bring together an effective housing organization, and take key steps that will enable us to advance collectively,” Pryor said in a statement. “We will start by listening to everyday Rhode Islanders, state and local leaders, and housing professionals and advocates regarding our current challenges as well as the ways we can propel our state forward. I thank Gov. McKee and General Assembly leaders for their confidence and support in this important effort.”

Moore in a statement said she is “energized” that state leaders are aligning in “ushering in a new era where Rhode Island is known as a place that moves nimbly to expand housing opportunities.”

James Bessette is the PBN special projects editor, and also covers the nonprofit and education sectors. You may reach him at Bessette@PBN.com. You may also follow him on Twitter at @James_Bessette.

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