This plan represents the state's first attempt to prioritize both housing and non-housing community development needs, in order to address the most pressing needs with limited available resources. The plan recognizes that housing problems and needs within the state are integrally related to both the overall economic well-being of the state and local community development efforts.
HOME Program funds total $3,098,000 for FY 1995. HOME funds are likely to be expended as follows: 85% for project funds with 55% going toward rehabilitation and 30% for homeownership, 10% for Administration and 5% for CHDO Operating Expenses.
CDBG Program funds total $5,950,000 for FY 1995. CDBG funds are likely to be distributed as follows: Housing Rehabilitation 42%, Housing Development 18%, Downpayment Assistance 2%, Economic Development 5%, Community Facilities 23%, and Public Services 8%.
ESG Program funds total $292,000. Up to 30% of funding will be set aside for homeless prevention activities. Priorities include coordination of services for the homeless which establish a continuum of care; projects that address shelter and related needs for homeless families and; projects providing services in areas currently inadequately served.
The State employed a variety of activities to invite and include the participation of its citizens and its public and private institutions in the formulation of the Consolidated Plan. The State solicited information and comments from communities, housing and homeless advocates, social service
agencies, nonprofit housing developers, public housing authorities, and State agencies. During September and October 1994, the State conducted three public hearings in Newport, Central Falls, and South Kingstown to solicit the views of citizens on community development and housing needs.
The state of Rhode Island consists of 39 cities and towns with a total population of 1,003,344. In addition there were between 6,000 and 10,000 illegal immigrants residing in Rhode Island in 1992. Rhode Island's minority population comprised 10.7% of the total population in 1990. Between 1980 and 1990, Rhode Island had the highest rate of increase in Asian and Hispanic origin populations of any state in the United States. The majority of the minority population reside in seven Rhode Island cities.
Significant job losses coupled with gains in areas that have high levels of part-time employment and significantly lower annual wages characterized the State's economy. Since 1990, an additional 6, 330 Rhode Islanders had incomes below the poverty level. This sharp increase from the 1990 Census figures took place while the total population of the state declined by 7,139. By 1994 10.4% of the state's population and 11% of it's households had income below the poverty level. The number of AFDC recipients increased 39.5% in Rhode Island from 1987 to 1994. Within the capital city of Providence, twenty-two percent of all households currently receive food stamps, and city residents account for 40% of the State's total AFDC cases. Among the state's renter households 23% had incomes below the poverty level and 28% had incomes between poverty level and 50% of median in 1992.
Rhode Island suffers from a continually aging housing stock. The median age of housing was 42 years for all units and 60 years for rental housing. Over 50% of the rental housing in Rhode Island is in the form of aged stick-built two and three decker walk-ups. 9,900 rental units and 4,100 owner-occupied units have physical defects, another 42,800 lack central heating. Statewide there are only 12,995 subsidized family units. Only 5,721 of the state's 21,776 AFDC households benefit from some form of assisted housing. There are a total of 18,647 subsidized units for the elderly.
Median renter income in Rhode Island in 1990 was $23,443. The average rent for all units was $562, and the average rents by bedroom size were: $483 for 1-bedroom, $589 for 2-bedroom, and $687 for 3-bedroom units. Among all renter households 40% spend in excess of 30% of their income on rent, 18%, spend in excess of half of their income on rent.
In the past three years the median single family home price in Rhode Island plummeted 8% to $115,000. While lower prices have made housing more affordable for some, many existing owners have lost substantial value in their homes. Multi-family properties of two to four units have been particularly hard hit by devaluation. Foreclosures remain high.
Of the state's 147,655 renter households, 43% have very low incomes. Their major problem was cost. Over 18,000 family and elderly households had cost burdens exceeding 50% of income. Small related families at low income also have problems with cost but only 2% have burdens over 50% of income. By contrast, 51% of single person and non-related households have cost burdens exceeding 50% of income. Overcrowding is a problem for 34.2% of the large households.
Very low income owners make up just 13.9% of all homeowners, the majority are elderly. Among low income owners, minorities are clearly more likely to experience housing problems. While overall 31% of the low income owners had housing problems, 41% of the minority owners had housing problems.
While minority groups make up close to 11% of the Rhode Island population, they account for 16% of the very low income households. Slightly more than 45% of all minority households in Rhode Island have very low incomes. Among very low income renters with housing problems, minority households have a higher incidence of problems, with 85% of Hispanic renter households experiencing housing problems.
In FY 1993, an unduplicated total of 3,809 clients were given emergency shelter for an average of 22.3 nights. Over 35 percent of all client intakes in 1993 were children under the age of 12. More than half of the clients consisted of families with children, 80% of these were headed by a single female. The most frequent reasons given by adults for seeking emergency shelter in FY 1993 were an inability to pay rent costs (25.9%), domestic violence (18.5%), relocation from another area (18%), and family separation (15.1%) . It is estimated that one out of three homeless persons live on the streets. In addition to those living on the street, there are many homeless families doubling up with relatives or friends.
Mentally Ill: There are approximately 9,000 adults living in Rhode Island with severe and persistent mental illness. 1000 persons with serious mental illness need "normalized" housing.
Developmentally Disabled: There are currently 200 requests from families for residential placements.
Physically Disabled: In 1980, 3656 persons with physical disabilities required housing.
Children: The State has seen significant increases in the demand for services over the last five years, due to increased reporting of abuse and neglect and increases in drug-involved families. In addition, the Department sees 120 families each year whose only child welfare need is housing.
Elderly/Frail Elderly: By the year 2020 close to 9% of the State's population will be over 75 year of age. According to the 1990 census, there were 27,577 frail elders in the state with mobility and/or self care limitations. Currently 3,999 residents of elderly housing developments are in need of supportive services.
Persons with AIDS/HIV: One hundred four (104) people infected with HIV identified lack of housing or insufficient funds for housing as their reason for seeking services. Last year, the only AIDS housing facility in the state received 45 referrals for its 9 units.
Land costs in Rhode Island account for 40% of the cost of a new home. New zoning regulations made 2 and 4 acre zoning the norm in many outlying communities. The high cost of land results in affordable housing being concentrated in the lower cost communities. While only 3 communities have "impact fees" per say, most charge hefty subdivision, sewer and water connection fees. The Land Development and Subdivision Review Enabling Act was passed in 1992 and requires all municipalities to adopt land development and subdivision review regulations and to establish standard procedures for review and approval. The procedures established under the Act are intended to decrease the cost and the amount of time it takes to develop housing.
Rhode Island Housing encourages an equitable distribution of affordable housing opportunities throughout the State by scoring HOME program applications according to the percent of subsidized housing in the community. Communities with the lowest percentage receive the highest score. Owners are required to advertise units in statewide publications as well as minority and ethnic newspapers. Most projects must develop an affirmative marketing plan. Rhode Island Housing is undertaking a pilot program to increase lending to minority households within the inner city neighborhoods. Programs will be evaluated to determine the extent to which they are meeting the needs of minority communities.
The "Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act" establishes a streamlined permitting process that enables developers in communities where less than 10% of the units are available for low or moderate income individuals and families to apply for a comprehensive permit from a Zoning Board of Review to develop subsidized low and moderate income housing. If denied, the Zoning Board's decision may be appealed to a State Housing Appeals Board.
It is estimated that 71% of the State's housing stock has lead based paint. Results of a one year sample of children indicated that Statewide 10.1% of children tested were lead poisoned and an additional 38% had elevated lead levels.
The results of long term disinvestment in our neighborhoods has been devastating. Most work in the area of unemployment, housing and economic development is carried out in a piecemeal fashion through the funding of individual projects. The ideal would be comprehensive planning and programs where housing development, transportation, and economic development were linked to one another. Locally many communities have a miss-match of local resident skills to available jobs. Job training needs to be coupled with job information systems which can match city residents with suburban employers. In addition, public improvements are needed in neighborhoods devastated by long term disinvestment.
Suggestions for statewide economic growth:
Coordinating the linkages between affordable housing producers and supportive services is already occurring on a statewide basis. Frequently applications for housing propose financing from a number of sources including the Community Development Block Grant, Thresholds, LIHTC, and HOME. As a result several agencies are involved in assessing the overall feasibility of a potential development project. In addition a Consolidated Plan Advisory Committee will be established to fully examine the housing and community development resources available to the State and identify the most effective way to allocate and coordinate those funds.
Other statewide partnerships include:
In the preparation of the Consolidated Plan, an attempt has been made to define priority issues to which federal funding will be applied. It is increasingly evident that housing needs must be addressed in the context of the neighborhood environment, basic human needs such as transportation, economic development, and supportive services.
Although the definition of priority issues is an ongoing planning process, the following strategies are the focus of this three year plan:
Through priority funding it is our goal to provide on an annual basis for the next three years 200 units of rental housing, renovate 500 owner occupied and elderly units, and create home ownership opportunities for 100 families through the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing deteriorated and/or abandoned properties. Priority will be given to foreclosed properties of DEPCO and other assets of State or Federal agencies or authorities.
In general, the plan gives highest priority to renter households with very-low and extremely-low incomes (0-30% of median) whose cost burdens are more than 30% and 50% of their incomes and/or are in substandard housing. Households with 31-50% of median income also are given a high priority, especially those with cost burdens of more than 50% of income and/or in substandard housing. Homeless families, individuals and persons with special needs are assigned a high priority for transitional housing, permanent supportive housing and permanent housing.
In order to restore neighborhoods, owner occupancy will be promoted. In suburban and rural areas, neighborhood villages often contain the only existing structures which are appropriate to be renovated for rental housing. In those communities in which there are no subsidized rental units available for the elderly, new construction may be considered. The abatement of lead paint hazards is a priority need throughout the state.
The creation of jobs through financing of neighborhood businesses, training opportunities, and education is a priority. In addition, improved transportation, recreation facilities, social services, and health facilities are essential to thriving neighborhoods. The following strategies address these issues:
According to the 1990 census, 11% of the total population in Rhode Island is below the poverty level. As part of the strategy to address the issue of homelessness, which is linked to the problem of poverty, the production of more permanent, affordable housing and the establishment of stronger collaborative partnerships between housing and social service providers is recommended.
There are a number of existing housing-related and job programs in the State that help reduce, either directly or indirectly, the number of households below the poverty line:
Several projects offer opportunities that will help children in poverty:
In the past, approximately 60% of CDBG funds have been allocated to housing activities. In order to address this priority issue it will be necessary to continue this level of funding and to better coordinate the use of HOME and CDBG funds both through the Small Cities Program and local allocations from entitlement communities.
Federal resources: Small Cities Community Development Block Grants and Section 108 loans, HOME Program, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Project Based Section 8 Assistance, Low Income Housing Preservation and Homeownership Act (LIHPHRA), HOPE I,II,III, 203 K Loans, Lead Hazard Reduction Grants, Historic Preservation Tax Credits, Section 202 and 811 funds, McKinney Supportive Housing.
Rhode Island Housing Programs: Rental Production Program, Targeted Loan Funds, Construction Loan Program, Cooperative Housing, Predevelopment funds, Thresholds Program, First Homes Program, Second Mortgages, Banc Links, Home Repair Program, HECM Reverse Mortgages, Restore II, Non-Profit Pilot Program
Private Resources: Federal Home Loan Bank Programs, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Foundations
A Consolidated Plan Advisory Committee will establish an on-going process to fully examine the housing and community development resources available to the State and identify the most effective way to allocate and coordinate those funds.
HOME: Highest Priorities include: Acquisition and/or rehabilitation of structures to be owner-occupied with two or three residential units to stabilize neighborhoods and to encourage homeownership. Moderate rehabilitation of rental units for low and very low income families including the elimination of lead based paint hazards, correction of code violations, the provision of handicapped access for persons with disabilities and for the elderly, and to increase the energy efficiency of units occupied by lower income families.
CDBG: Activities which benefit low and moderate income families and individuals; or aid in the prevention or elimination of slums or blight. Housing rehabilitation, downpayment assistance and acquisition, public services, planning for economic development, and architectural barrier removal.
ESG: Renovation, major rehabilitation, or conversion of buildings for use as emergency shelters for the homeless. Provision of essential services such as those concerned with employment, health, substance abuse, education, food or assistance in obtaining housing or other services. Homeless prevention assistance.
HOME: Rhode Island Housing. CDBG: State Department of Administration, Office of Municipal Affairs. ESG: State Department of Administration, Office of Municipal Affairs.
HOME: The HOME Program is expected to assist 279 households. CDBG: The CDBG Program is expected to serve 465 households with its housing programs. ESG: The ESG Program is expected to serve 590 households.
Jean Burritt Robertson
Coordinator of Research
Rhode Island Housing & Mortgage Finance Corporation
60 Eddy Street
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Telephone: (401) 457-1267