Cranston, located in eastern Rhode Island, near Providence. Like communities throughout the Nation, one of its primary concerns is providing adequate services for its fast growing elderly populations.
The city of Cranston's Consolidated Plan addresses housing and community development issues that will be implemented during the 3-year period from 1995 to 1998. It identifies three major goals: 1) improve the appearance and safety of streets; 2) secure appropriate redevelopment of Narragansett Brewery to provide employment opportunities; and 3) promote affordable housing opportunities for individuals at all income levels.
The $9.5 million plan includes $1.5 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, $1.2 million in Comprehensive Grant funds, and $3 million in Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA) funds, as well as other funding. Additional funds from other sources bring the total budget to $11,364,100 for the first year.
Receiving input from 8 non-profit organizations, city agencies, and State departments, Cranston's Department of Community Development coordinated participation through public meetings, legal notices, and written materials.
The Department worked closely on the Consolidated Plan with the Cranston
Housing Authority and the Comprehensive Community Action Program since these
three agencies administer the majority of housing assistance funds in the city.
Cranston is a mature suburban community of 76,060. Of this population, 95 percent are white. Blacks account for only 2.4 percent, and 1.9 percent are Asian, compared to a 28 percent minority population in adjoining Providence. Under 7 percent of the population have incomes below the poverty level.
Because there is a growing number of elderly residents in the city, special emphasis has been given to their needs. Over the past 20 years, while Cranston's total population grew by only 2 percent, its elderly population grew by 37 percent from 13,400 in 1970 to 18,400 in 1990. Elderly persons now make up 24 percent of Cranston's population.
Since the eastern half of Cranston is older and more densely developed,
residential growth is now accelerating rapidly in the western section of the
city. With good, fast access to jobs in the business district of Providence
which serves the region and to the regional airport, Cranston is a very
desirable residential location, resulting in rapidly increasing housing prices.
In 1990 the median purchase price for a home was $122,750; the median rent was
$505 for a one-bedroom unit.
State housing data from 1990 showed that Cranston experienced the third greatest gain in occupied housing units of any city or town in the past 10 years. While new home construction has steadily increased since 1983 in the western, more rural section of Cranston, these homes are affordable to few families. Development in two western tracts accounts for more than 60 percent of the city's population growth in the past 10 years.
In addition, the needs of first-time homebuyers in the city's older homes located in the eastern and central sections of the city must also be met. Because more than 14,000 of the city's housing units were built before 1940, there is a need for ongoing rehabilitation of these units.
The 1990 census reported that the northernmost area of Cranston has the highest concentration of low-income households. This is due, in part, to deterioration over a 15-year period after the Narragansett Brewery, an employer of hundreds in the area, closed. The brewery was vandalized, caught fire, and became an eyesore to the community. In turn, several small businesses suffered, as did property values.
Based on statistics from the 1990 census, the following were identified as the most important housing needs in Cranston:
Housing trends in Cranston mirror those in other mature, suburban communities in Rhode Island and the northeast region:
Since 1985, land acquisition costs have increased 69 percent. This has resulted in a sharp reduction in rental housing construction. The majority of multifamily units built in recent years have been condominiums for owner occupancy.
Traditionally, Cranston has not been hospitable to low-income family housing, but in the past few years some progress has been noted. For example, Riverbend, the city's largest family housing complex changed ownership and remains committed to providing subsidized apartments. Recently the city used CDBG funds in a public safety project to provide residents with increased police patrols during the holidays.
Although the city has relatively few substandard housing units as defined by HUD, approximately 8,500 out of 29,000 total households in Cranston report some housing problem (substandard, overcrowded, or cost burden over 30 percent of income). Almost half of all elderly households report housing problems; 54 percent of very low-income elderly report a cost burden greater than 30 percent. More than 500 elderly and 100 other families are on the waiting list for public housing. There also is a need for more Section 8 certificates.
The 1990 census figures reported no homeless persons visible in street locations. The Welcome Arnold Shelter for the Homeless, an emergency shelter, had an average of 84 individuals staying per night. Of these, almost half were white; 26 were black; 11 were Hispanic; and 5 were other minorities. Since this shelter serves the entire State of Rhode Island --residents are bused in each night -- there is no proof that any shelter residents are citizens of Cranston.
However, the Cranston Housing Authority's Section 8 certificates program provides services to prevent homelessness and to assist those with incomes below 30 percent of the median. There are no transitional housing facilities in the city, although the Eastman house, operated by the State, is located in Cranston. The city does not have a local Continuum of Care for the Homeless system.
In addition to administering 20 acquisition properties, the Cranston Housing Authority manages 620 units of public housing in 6 separate facilities. Under its Family Self-Sufficiency program to provide economic opportunities, there are 15 three-bedroom homes and 5 four-bedroom homes available to qualified families. The Family Self-Sufficiency Program could be expanded to more eligible persons.
In order to assist those having difficulty meeting rental costs, the Cranston Rental Rehabilitation Program offers renters assistance for housing rehabilitation that corrects code violations. The amount of assistance is determined by the unit size.
In addition, Cranston has implemented a 5-year deferred loan rehabilitation program at zero-percent interest to encourage single-family homeowners to retain their properties once they have been improved. Each property has a maximum of $7,000 available from CDBG funds. The program provides that the loan will be forgiven if the owner retains the property for 5 years.
Cranston has few regulatory barriers to affordable housing and largely supports the development of affordable housing through the private and non-profit sectors. Density bonuses for affordable housing are scheduled for draft and implementation in the coming year.
However, since the latest census showed that the median gross rent in Cranston is higher than in most area communities, many, primarily elderly and large-family minority renters are rent burdened. This means they pay more than one third of their income on housing costs.
Another barrier, which impacts most on elderly residents, is the high cost of homeownership in terms of city taxes, insurance, and normal maintenance. These deplete budgets of fixed-income households. An additional barrier cited was the difficulty of potential first-time homeowners to acquire housing.
To facilitate the development of special needs housing, the new Zoning Enabling Act specifies that "households," "community residences," and "family day-care homes" shall be permitted uses within all residential zoning use districts. This will make essential services and public transportation more accessible. "Congregate retirement living facilities" are permitted in three residential zones and one commercial zone.
Cranston will complete an analysis of impediments to fair housing.
A recent study conducted by the State found 21,443 housing units with lead-based paint. Of these, approximately one-fourth house low-income families. From April 1992 to May 1993, 221 children reportedly had elevated blood-lead levels and 59 were identified as lead-poisoned. To date, almost 900 children have been tested for lead.
Once an environmental assessment is completed by the Department of Community Development, the Comprehensive Community Action Program, and the Cranston Housing Authority, the Lead-Based Paint Abatement Program will provide $5,000 per unit to be financed in the form of a 5-year forgivable loan.
The city's highest priority after housing is to improve infrastructure. This work will be carried out by the Cranston Department of Public Works and private contractors. Infrastructure needs include repairs to streets in the Arlington neighborhood. It is especially important to maintain neighborhoods near the brewery site in view of the anticipated development of the site.
Other programs, including food banks and the after-school programs, which are targeted to low-income families to assist them in holding off the consequences of a depressed economy, need financial support. Scholarships for low-income youth are offered and the small minority population in Cranston has been served by the city's health center and family life program.
Because of the growing numbers of elderly residents, Cranston has used CDBG
funds to construct an Alzheimer's day care facility to care for 30 clients
daily. In addition, the city's Department of Senior Services provides an Adult
Day Care Program and the Cranston Housing Authority assists low- and
moderate-income seniors as well as handicapped and disabled persons by providing
social services and interventions. The Consolidated Plan calls for enactment of
new land-use regulations, which facilitate alternative group living arrangements
that provide housing options for the elderly and special needs populations.
As a result of a 1995 survey conducted by the city, attention has been placed on the appearance of neighborhoods and the need for affordable housing for all income levels. In addition, the plan calls for a balance of housing choices, recognizing local, regional, and statewide needs for all income levels and for all age groups. With the passage of the State Affordable Housing Act of 1992 and the Cranston Comprehensive Plan, Cranston has implemented a policy to encourage the expansion of its affordable housing inventory through the private and non-profit sectors.
Western Cranston, which is zoned for low-density residential development and has been historically a more expensive area to live in, has been targeted as the site of one or more new "village districts." The city is planning to modify its zoning requirements to allow development at higher density than was originally permitted, requiring implementation of a Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) program. It is hoped that the reduced lot sizes in these areas may enhance affordability.
In addition, Cranston plans to institute programs that provide both very low- and low-income renters and owners with relief from the high cost burdens they experience for housing.
Cranston is considering the establishment of a coordinating council on community development, which would include development organizations and non-profit social service providers, to address community development needs.
In order to address issues related to its youth, Cranston seeks to provide public recreational facilities as an alternative to crime and violence. Similarly, programs for the growing preschool population in the growing western section include child-care centers and playground renovations. Cranston's public service needs include an after-school program; workplace skills training for veterans, minorities, and disabled clients; and support for the elderly. The growing low-income minority population, largely Hispanic, makes the provision of health services a priority. The Family Life Resource Center, managed by the Comprehensive Community Action Program, offers therapy by sexual abuse specialists to children, adolescents, and adults who have been sexually abused.
A study conducted by the city's Department of Economic Development resulted in a plan to develop the West Bay region (which includes Cranston, Coventry, East Greenwich, Johnston, North Kingston, Warwick, West Warwick). It is hoped that the eleven goals identified will stimulate an effective political coalition:
The 1990 census found that there were 999 families and 1,116 persons over the age of 65 who had incomes below the poverty level. For its elderly population, Cranston implemented its "tax freeze" and "tax exemption" policies which benefit homeowners over the age of 65. One goal is to reduce the public housing waiting list and to increase its number of available Section 8 certificates for low-income elderly renters.
For the large number of households paying excessive rents, the city is studying the feasibility of project-based rental assistance to leverage financing for additional affordable units and to assure long-term affordability. In addition, employment training and education services are provided to city residents through its Office of Job Training. Further efforts are coordinated through several community-based organizations that address anti-poverty issues.
In addition to the Cranston Housing Authority and the Comprehensive Community Action Program, many public agencies contribute to the implementation of the Consolidated Plan, most notably Cranston's Departments of Economic Development and Senior Services; and city, State, and Federal Head Start funds.
Coordination of the Consolidated Plan lies with the city, which has several departmental agencies with distinct housing responsibilities:
The following projects have been earmarked to receive CDBG funds in the first year of the plan:
The city of Cranston and the Falstaff Brewing Co. Are seeking development proposals for the former Narragansett Brewery on Cranston Street. This project could have significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood. It is the city's hope that development of this site will spur small and microbusiness development in the Arlington neighborhood.
MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).
Cranston Department of Community Development