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Housing

Good homes in great neighborhoods

Every day, more people want to live and invest in Providence. As a result, demand exceeds supply, and not enough new homes on the affordable spectrum are being built. Beyond the cost to individuals and families, housing unaffordability and displacement negatively impact every neighborhood and sector of the economy. Gonzalo will fight for immediate resources to create homes that are actually affordable and long-term investments in new and rehab housing construction.  As Mayor, he will:

  • Establish a municipal public developer model to expand the city’s affordable housing stock. Using ARPA and existing housing resources, including the Providence Redevelopment Agency, the Providence Housing Authority, the Planning Department, the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, as well as new opportunities through the use of community land trusts, we will empower the municipal public developer model to create sustainable, affordable mixed-income housing in neighborhoods across the city and incentivize the construction of new multifamily properties enough to pressure rents downward citywide. The municipal public developer will also work with nonprofit affordable housing developers to replace inefficient, fossil-fueled housing with environmentally sustainable units powered by renewable energy. This will help families and the environment while stimulating the local economy and creating consistency in construction jobs regardless of recessionary downturns. The state legislature has already taken a bold step in this direction by allocating ARPA funds to a pilot program for publicly developed rental housing modeled after a highly successful public program in Montgomery County, Maryland.

  • Implement land use changes to allow Providence to grow without displacement. Providence will institute land use changes to allow the city to grow—without displacement. Specifically, changes will include increasing residential density citywide to 10 dwelling units per acre with a 15 unit per acre minimum near transit stops. This policy is modeled on similar provisions in Massachusetts for transit-served communities, which created vast increases in multifamily housing in previously restrictive communities. Additionally, off-street parking minimums will be replaced with parking maximums and more stringent per-occupant limits for nonresidential parking to free land while confronting induced parking demand. Additionally, these upzoning proposals will limit displacement and ensure affordability by including base zoning to explicitly mandate affordability and family units (similar to that proposed in Cambridge, Massachusetts). Finally, public developments and other non-profit affordable developments should receive a density bonus, as in cities like Chicago.

  • Remove regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to the development of affordable housing units by streamlining the city’s zoning regulations, permitting, and inspection processes for public developments and other non-profit affordable developments. 

  • Use the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund to provide gap financing for 4% credit projects that leverage underutilized federal matching funds. Codify clear priorities and guidelines to ensure that the funds are not used to gap fund future luxury developments like the Superman building.

  • Build 24 new low-income units (to reach the current federal cap) using HUD Low-Income Housing Tax Credit funds. 

  • Leverage the Providence Housing Authority’s ability to release project-based housing vouchers to support the creation of new affordable housing units.

  • Partner with service providers to offer proven, personalized supportive services tied to affordable housing across our city for chronically unhoused people, those at risk of becoming unhoused or requiring supportive housing services.

  • Launch an innovation lab for modular housing development, to build more affordable housing while also developing local talent and businesses and retaining local wealth.

  • Reform predatory tax sale practices and provide assistance to homeowner-occupants at risk of foreclosure.

  • Expand down payment assistance programs to make homeownership possible for populations who have been historically excluded from this wealth-building opportunity. 

  • Offer down payment assistance to city employees to incentivize first-time homeowner-occupancy opportunities within the city.

For Renters:

  • Institute rent stabilization. Insofar as state law allows, and working closely with legislative and community partners, Providence will implement rent stabilization to curb the vast rent increases and to ensure neighborhood livability. Year-over-year rent increases will be limited for units 15 years and older to 4%, with limited exemption made for newer rental property. Rental units vacant for 5 years or fewer will likewise be subject to that limit. To avoid loopholes that produced sale-based supply reductions seen in earlier efforts, owner-occupied buildings will not be exempted.

  • Establish a mandatory eviction diversion program to reduce evictions. Providence will create an eviction diversion program in which all landlords in the city will participate, with a particular emphasis on reducing evictions stemming from the nonpayment of rent. As the leading cause of evictions locally and statewide, rent shortfalls and arrearages are relatively resolvable issues. Moreover, due to procedurally related costs, arrearages constitute a fraction of the total monetary judgments assessed against renters. Tenant and landlord participation in a supervised mediation prior to an eviction filing, combined with financial support and counseling, centers tenant involvement and may avoid the stigma and difficulties arising from even a mere eviction filing.

  • Enact laws and regulations that hold absentee and corporate landlords accountable for the maintenance of their properties.