Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Partners Join in Providence to Celebrate Dean Street Studios

RIHousing, Women’s Development Corporation, and the Kent Center for Human and Organizational Development were recently joined by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and Mayor Jorge Elorza to celebrate the grand opening of Dean Street Studios in Providence. The development includes 51 units of supportive housing for disabled and formerly homeless individuals as well as new clinical offices for the Kent Center.

“This project is special because it will provide on-site services and more affordable housing options for our most vulnerable residents,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “With our partners, we are creating affordable housing options and helping those who need it most.”

As part of the redevelopment, the Kent Center relocated its Housing First RI offices to Dean Street Studios. This will allow the Kent Center to provide residents with a variety of services as well as access full-time support from Housing First RI’s nurses, doctors, and case managers. Originally built in 1997, the Dean Street building underwent rehabilitation that included structural repairs, roof replacement, energy efficiency upgrades, and improvements to security.

“Dean Street Studios represents a great achievement made possible by the successful partnership of many parties,” said Barbara Fields, Executive Director of RIHousing. “It’s a great example of how we can leverage investment in housing to attract additional private funding and reach more Rhode Islanders.”

RIHousing Wins Competitive $4.7M Grant to Create and Preserve Over 550 Homes

Senator Jack Reed and Governor Gina Raimondo recently joined RIHousing in announcing a new $4.7 million federal grant from the U.S Treasury. This grant will help RIHousing create and preserve over 550 apartments and homes for families across the state and attract additional private investment to create hundreds of jobs.

“Housing is an essential component of strong communities – it serves as the foundation of economic wellbeing for Rhode Island families,” said Governor Raimondo.  “The resources from the Capital Magnet Fund will help our continued efforts to ensure that Rhode Islanders are not burdened by unsustainable housing costs and will allow us to continue creating an environment that incentivizes residents and businesses to choose Rhode Island and help us further strengthen our economy.”

Senator Reed led the effort to create Treasury’s Capital Magnet Fund. Started in 2008, the fund invests in community development financial institutions and non-profit housing developers to increase investment in affordable housing and economic development. This year, RIHousing was one of 40 recipients nationwide to be selected by Treasury.

“The Governor and RIHousing worked hard to put together a successful application for this highly-competitive grant.  This is a smart investment that should put folks to work and put more working families in homes they can afford,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Banking Committee, which oversees federal housing policy, and the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee.

The Capital Magnet Fund requires recipients to leverage $10 of additional investments for every $1 of federal funds.  RIHousing plans to exceed that goal and estimates that this award will help attract over $110 million in public and private investment. 

RIHousing Celebrates 45 Years, Honors Key Partners

In 1973, the Rhode Island General Assembly established the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation (today RIHousing) to tackle the state’s widespread, critical housing issues. 45 years later, RIHousing has helped generations of Rhode Islanders across the State find a place to call home.

Our State has changed since 1973 and we have changed with it. We are proud of the many accomplishments we’ve achieved, and the partnerships we’ve forged along the way.  It is due to these strong partnerships – with elected officials, lenders, realtors, community development corporations, non- and for-profit developers, banks, advocates, federal, state and municipal leaders and agencies – that we have been able to help so many Rhode Islanders.

In honor of our 45th anniversary, RIHousing will be honoring partners at its annual State House Meet & Greet. These partners have been instrumental in transforming RI communities and understand that housing development not only builds homes, but just as important, creates communities where people can live, work, and enjoy a high quality of life:

·         Carla DeStefano, Executive Director, SWAP, Inc. (Providence)
·         Frank Shea, Former Executive Director, ONE Neighborhood Builders (Providence)
·         Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director, ONE Neighborhood Builders
·         Jeanne Cola, Executive Director, LISC Rhode Island
·         Jim Reed, Former Executive Director, Housing Authority of Newport
·         Rhonda Mitchell, Executive Director, Housing Authority of Newport 
·         Joe Garlick, Executive Director, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
·         Linda Weisinger, Executive Director, Pawtucket Central Falls Development
·         Nancy Whit, Former Executive Director, Pawtucket Central Falls Development

The 2018 State House Meet & Greet will be held on Tuesday April 24 from 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM in the State House’s State Room. Please join us!

Click here to RSVP

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Looking Back on 2017…and Ahead to 2018!

As 2017 draws to a close, RIHousing has a lot to celebrate. This year, we invested millions of dollars in developments across the state, putting people to work and helping thousands of Rhode Island families find and keep an apartment or buy a home.

Our investments don’t just create homes: each new development improves the whole community. When an individual or family buys a home, they are able to put down roots in the neighborhood. They shop at local stores, dine at local restaurants and give back to the community. And let’s not forget: building and buying homes creates jobs for hundreds of construction workers, architects, electricians, real estate professionals, mortgage brokers and others.

Earlier this year, we celebrated a groundbreaking at 60 King Street at Providence, the site of the former Imperial Knife Factory, which provided jobs for many people in the Olneyville neighborhood. Like many mills around New England, when the factory closed, the building stood vacant and fell into disrepair. It was cut off from the rest of the neighborhood and became a magnet for crime and vandalism.

In that blighted building, a coalition of partners saw potential. With investments from a host of sources, including a first mortgage and federal HOME funding from RIHousing, Trinity Financial is now undertaking more than $21 million in renovation and turning the mill into apartments for 60 families. The redevelopment is contributing to more than a decade of significant investments in Olneyville. In fact, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, whose parents once worked in Olneyville mills, called 60 King “a transformational project” for the neighborhood.

Another transformation is Greenridge Commons, a development of 96 townhomes, apartments and commercial space in the Pascoag area of Burrillville. As our Executive Director Barbara Fields noted at Greenridge’s ribbon cutting last month, developments like Greenridge “break down negative perceptions associated with affordable housing.” Built on a 200-arce site, the development preserves open space while creating homes that are in keeping with the character of Pascoag’s architecture and history.

Investments like Greenridge and 60 King are only possible thanks to our many partners – developers, banks CDCs and investors.

For many people, homeownership represents achieving part of the American dream. Here at RIHousing, we are so proud to be able to help by providing mortgages for first-time homebuyers. In fact, we financed an all-time high 531 mortgages in Q3. Totaling over $106 million, this represents RIHousing’s highest single-quarter mortgage volume in our 44-year history. But these aren’t just numbers for us – this means that we helped hundreds of Rhode Island families become homeowners.

We are extremely proud of the work we did in 2017, and are looking forward to an even better New Year. From all of us here at RIHousing, happy holidays and best wishes for 2018.

RIHousing Employees Share Holiday Cheer with Kids at Clínica Esperanza

RIHousing’s employees regularly chip in to support local nonprofit organizations, raising thousands of dollars each year through weekly “dress down days.” When Executive Director Barbara Fields recently learned that a local organization needed some of Santa’s helpers to provide gifts for about 85 children, RIHousing staff sprang into action.

Clínica Esperanza is a free, volunteer-run clinic that provides culturally-attuned medical care to uninsured adults living in Rhode Island. Since 2010, the clinic has served more than 9,000 patients, 80% of whom are Spanish-speaking. Clínica Esperanza planned to host a holiday party for its patients and their families – but needed a donor so they could distribute gifts to the children.

RIHousing put out a call for gifts, and the response from staff was overwhelming: in fact, more than enough toys were collected, so all of the 85 children were able to have some holiday cheer.

From Playgrounds to Workforce Development, RIHousing Transforms Neighborhoods

RIHousing recently awarded approximately $3.8 million to revitalize neighborhoods in Providence, Woonsocket, Central Falls and Smithfield. This investment will fund 46 homes, 58 live-work apartments, a new educational facility, a park and a playground.

This funding comes from the Acquisition and Revitalization Program (“ARP”), part of the $50 million Housing Opportunity Bond passed by voters last year. ARP utilizes $10 million of the bond.

The following awards were made:
  • Bailey Baxter Playspace Project will redevelop vacant and blighted properties in South Providence into a playground.
    • Sponsored by the City of Providence in partnership with The Nature Conservancy
  • The Dexter Adult Learning and Workforce Development Hub will convert a vacant building in Central Falls (formerly Dexter Credit Union) into an academic space offering continuing education, workforce development and community programming.
    • Sponsored by the City of Central Falls in collaboration with Rhode Island College
  • Georgiaville Village Green will develop 42 new apartments.
    • Sponsored by the Coventry Housing Associates and Gemini Housing Corporation
  • The Millrace District Creative Placemaking Initiative will redevelop three vacant mills located in Woonsocket into 58 live-work apartments and six commercial business units. (ARP funds will be used for the commercial portion only.)
    • Sponsored by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley
  • 136 Rugby Street and 44 Lillian Avenue in Providence will be redeveloped into two-family homes. Each building will have a three-bedroom home and a two-bedroom rental apartment.
    • Sponsored by SWAP, Inc.

About the Acquisition and Revitalization Program (“ARP”)

ARP’s purpose is to stabilize neighborhoods and communities by strategically targeting the redevelopment of foreclosed and/or blighted properties. ARP funding is available statewide, with 75% of funding set aside for urban communities. In addition, ARP prioritizes properties located in low- and moderate-income census tracts. RIHousing was tasked by Commerce Corporation to administer the program.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

MaineHousing Lowers Delinquency Rates with RIHousing Subservicing

With the help of Mortgage Servicing Solutions (MSS), a division of RIHousing, the delinquency rate for MaineHousing’s single-family loan portfolio is now under 4% for the first time in almost 20 years. The delinquency rate was reduced by 1.5% between January and June of 2017, the first six months of MaineHousing’s arrangement with MSS.

RIHousing’s experience and familiarity with MaineHousing’s government insured loans has been instrumental in serving MaineHousing’s borrowers and lowering delinquency rates.

In 2016, RIHousing announced that the corporation had been chosen to serve as mortgage sub-servicer of MaineHousing’s half-billion dollar portfolio. RIHousing is one of only a handful of housing finance agencies nationwide, and the only one in New England, that offers mortgage sub-servicing to others. MaineHousing’s loan portfolio consists of 6,509 loans totaling $531,385,786. 

MSS is rated a “Top Tier” servicer with HUD due to their successful engagement in borrower workout activities. Additionally, MSS provides 24/7 access for borrowers through their Customer Care Net portal, where borrowers can access loan information, make payments and access additional helpful tools.