House approves bill to more get more specific in recognizing communities’ affordable housing efforts

 

STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. Brandon Potter to provide cities and towns more flexibility in meeting their affordable housing targets, while also incentivizing the development of housing to serve those most in need.

The legislation (2022-H 7948A), which is part of Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s housing legislative package, creates a weighting system to be used when calculating each community’s percentage of affordable housing. Under that system, each new unit would be assigned a weight based on its deed restriction, with those that are reserved for the lowest-income households counting for as much as two units, and those whose restrictions are set at 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI) or higher counting as less than one. The legislation also allows mobile homes to count toward a community’s affordable housing target for the first time.

The system is designed to recognize that there are varying levels of affordability within “affordable housing,” and to provide greater incentive for the development of very affordable housing.  

“Rhode Island’s housing crisis is hurting people across the income spectrum, and the lower the household income, the more difficult it is to find and afford housing. This legislation is one more tool to encourage housing development, reward communities in ways that correspond fairly to the needs they are addressing and provide flexibility to municipalities,” said Representative Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston). “All affordable housing is needed right now, but not all affordable housing is equally affordable. We need incentives that correspond with our needs and that fairly recognize communities for all their development efforts.”

Existing state law sets a target for every city and town to have at least 10 percent of its housing units qualify as affordable. Only about six of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns currently meet that target.

Under this bill, instead of counting each affordable housing unit equally, each would be weighted according to its deed restriction. Those whose deed restriction allows them to be sold or rented to households above 100% of AMI up to 120% would count as .5 of an affordable unit, and those deed-restricted for households above 80% and up to 100% would count as .75. Those restricted for households above 60% and up to 80% of AMI would count as 1. Those restricted to above 30% and up to 60% would count as 1.5, and any restricted to those lower than or at 30% of AMI would count as 2 units.

The change would take effect prospectively, applying only to new housing units that are issued a certificate of occupancy on or after Jan. 1, 2023. Previously built units will still be counted as a single unit, regardless of their deed restriction.

The bill addresses a long-standing issue over whether mobile homes should be counted as affordable housing. The bill allows each new and existing mobile home to be counted as .5 units, regardless of the income of the current occupant, but only if its owner either owns the land upon which it stands, or it is part of a resident owned community, and it meets safety standards.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

 

There's a rally going on tonight in support of Brittney Griner, the WNBA star who remains detained in Russia. Her home team, the Phoenix Mercury, will call for Griner's safe return. President Biden has called the wife of Griner about her continued captivity in Russia. The call came after Cherelle Griner was critical of the White House for not hearing from Biden since Griner was detained.        The names of the seven Illinois parade victims are now out. A shooter opened fire at an Independence Day parade north of Chicago in Highland Park on Monday. That suspect is being charged with seven counts of first degree-murder.        Top Ohio Democrats running for office didn't join President Biden during his speech in Cleveland today. Congressman Tim Ryan, running for Senate, and former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, running for governor, both cited "scheduling conflicts." The Washington Post claims Ohio is part of the "challenges" Democrats are facing in the upcoming midterms as Biden's polling numbers plummet.       Another interest rate hike may be on the horizon. In minutes from its June meeting, the Federal Reserve says an increase of up to three-quarters of a percentage point this month "would likely be appropriate." Officials also admitted more hikes could tamp down economic growth "for a time." However, they said returning inflation to its normal level was "critical." The nation is currently dealing with the highest inflation in four decades.       New research from Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare shows those who practice intermittent fasting have a reduced risk of severe COVID-19 complications. Doctors for the healthcare system analyzed conditions of COVID-19 patients who fasted and those who didn't. Researchers say periodic fasting has shown improved cardiovascular health benefits.        The latest offering from Marvel Studios is aiming for a big opening weekend at the domestic box office. "Thor: Love and Thunder" is expected to bring in between 145 to 155-million-dollars over the weekend. The fourth standalone Thor film will look to join movies like Jurassic World: Dominion and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which brought in the first and second most at the box office this year.