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.

RIHousing Leaders Recognized for Outstanding Contributions

RIHousing raked in the accolades at the annual National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) conference. Out of more than 115 submissions for awards in 18 categories, the corporation was honored for program innovation in Communications for its spring homebuying campaign, “It’s Time to Buy.”

The campaign’s simple message, “It’s Time to Buy a Home,” resonated with homebuyers, realtors and lender partners, contributing to a 48% increase in mortgage registrations and compelling Rhode Islanders to take the first step toward homeownership.

Also at the NCSHA conference, Executive Director Barbara Fields was elected to the organization’s national Board of Directors. As NCSHA considers its priorities for the year ahead, she will work with the board to shape the organization’s agenda.

Finally, Director of Leased Housing and Rental Services Claribel Shavers was recognized for her service and exemplary contributions to the housing industry, receiving the prestigious State Agency Person of the Year from the New England Affordable Housing Management Association (NEAHMA) at its annual conference.

Congratulations to all award winners!

RIHousing Announces New Funding, Including First-ever Allocation of Housing Trust Fund

RIHousing is pleased to announce the opening of competitive funding rounds for several housing finance programs: the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) and the Housing Trust Fund (HTF), initiatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); and 2018 Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), a program of the U.S. Treasury used in the financing of construction and/or rehabilitation of properties to be used as affordable rental homes in Rhode Island. Click here for more information on the RFPs.

RIHousing anticipates awarding $6 million in HOME and AHT and the allocation of approximately $2.7 million of LIHTCs. Since 1986, RIHousing has administered the LIHTC program to finance the development or preservation of more than 11,500 apartments in 29 cities and towns; since 1992, the corporation has invested over $94.5 million in HOME funding for housing production and rehabilitation in all 39 Rhode Island cities and towns. HOME funding is a flexible tool for developing homes for Rhode Islanders earning no more than 80% of AMI, which is about $52,000 for a family of three.

“A healthy housing market is key to future economic growth and vibrant neighborhoods where people want to live and work,” said Senator Jack Reed, who wrote the law creating the National Housing Trust Fund in 2008. “These federal funds will help the state preserve and increase the number of affordable homes and address the housing crunch.” Reed is a senior member of the Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over HTF and HOME programs, and is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), which appropriates funds for the programs.

HTF is a new affordable housing production program that will complement existing federal, state and local efforts to increase and preserve the supply of affordable housing. This is the first time HTF funds have been awarded in Rhode Island. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

RI Leaders Address Senior Needs at Health & Housing Forum

RIHousing, along with HousingWorks RI and LeadingAge RI, recently held a Senior Health & Housing Forum to discuss innovative ways for health care and service providers to collaborate with housing providers.

Over the next ten years, Rhode Island’s senior population is expected to grow significantly – which has important implications for our state. Particularly as Baby Boomers age, their needs and expectations are different than the seniors of previous generations.

Seniors today are not drastically slowing down their lives when they reach age 65. Rather, they are remaining active, staying in the workplace longer and living longer, and, more seniors are choosing to “age in place,” or remain in their homes. To meet the needs of this growing demographic, Rhode Island must plan now to find solutions for senior housing, healthcare and services.

A full capacity crowd heard insights from Marianne Raimondo, Executive Director of the Institute for Education in Healthcare at Rhode Island College, which provides cross-disciplinary education and learning opportunities for the health care workforce in Rhode Island. Keynote speaker Linda Couch, LeadingAge's national Vice President of Housing Policy, discussed the rapidly changing landscape of senior care and how changes at the federal level will impact our states. Attendees also participated in breakout sessions to share best practices on housing and healthcare for seniors.

For more information on the Forum, including materials and other related resources, click here.