House passes legislation from Speaker Shekarchi’s housing package to elevate housing role to cabinet-level position
STATE HOUSE – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi that is part of his eleven-bill housing package introduced earlier this year. The legislation, 2022-H 7940 SUB A, would elevate the position of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Housing to a cabinet-level position within the Executive branch of state government. The Secretary of Housing would report directly to the Governor and would be required to participate in the promulgation of housing regulations.
“If we are making housing a top priority, we need to treat is as such. That means empowering the Secretary of Housing with the authority to make decisions and hold agencies accountable, but also making the Secretary responsible for ensuring that we meet our goals,” said Speaker Shekarchi. “The Secretary of Housing will be charged with creating Rhode Island’s plan for greater housing development. We need to streamline our state’s housing initiatives through one person, with a dedicated department to support those efforts.”
The legislation would give the Secretary of Housing oversight over the state’s Office of Housing and Community Development. On or before November 1, 2022, the Secretary of Housing will develop a housing organizational plan to be provided to the General Assembly; the organizational plan would include a review, analysis, and assessment of functions related to housing of all state departments, quasi-public agencies, boards, and commissions. The legislation also establishes the Department of Housing within the Executive branch as of January 1, 2023. The Secretary of Housing would include in the plan comprehensive options and recommendations relating to the functions and structure of the new department.
This legislation is part of Speaker Shekarchi’s eleven-bill housing package that aims to tackle Rhode Island’s housing crisis from multiple angles: by streamlining development, providing more complete and timely information about housing, and helping municipalities to meet their affordable housing goals. Four of the bills have already passed the House, and three more were passed today.