Rhode Island homes unaffordable to more buyers and renters

AN APARTMENT building under construction in Providence./PBN FILE PHOTO MICHAEL SALERNO

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Islanders are stretched thin in trying to afford either rental homes or purchase their own houses.

The 2019 Housing Fact Book found buyers with incomes under $50,000 – which is $20,000 less than the state’s median personal income – can no longer afford to buy an affordable home anywhere.

To purchase a home, these residents have to push their budgets out of balance, spending in excess of 30 percent on a mortgage, utilities and taxes.

Renters are in a similar spot. In 2018, renters in Rhode Island that earned $50,000 or less could afford only three communities: Burrillville, Smithfield and Woonsocket.

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The rising home prices and rents are squeezing residents at higher income levels as well, according to the report, issued Friday by HousingWorks RI at Roger Williams University.

People who have incomes of $70,000 can choose among four communities if they want to purchase a home affordably. In 2017, they had seven towns or cities.

Even households with incomes of more than $100,000 have six fewer communities to choose from this year, said Brenda Clement, director of HousingWorks RI.

“The amount of money that is collectively being overspent ($733,107,777) on housing costs in Rhode Island is astronomical,” she said, in a statement. “This money, which could otherwise be spent supporting local businesses, going toward education, or put into savings, is instead burdening Rhode Islanders.”

The state needs to establish dedicated funds for the creation of additional affordable homes, she said, “so that every Rhode Islander has a safe, healthy and affordable place to call home.”

Mary MacDonald is a staff writer for the PBN. Contact her at macdonald@pbn.com.

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