Rhode Island housing advocates are celebrating a significant victory this month following the passage of a $50 million Housing Opportunity Bond initiative for housing programs in the state. The initiative passed both chambers of the Rhode Island General Assembly and was signed into law by Governor Gina Raimondo (D) as part of an omnibus statewide budget package.
Housing advocates in the state, led by the Housing Network of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless, both NLIHC state partner organizations, prioritized the bond initiative in their state legislative advocacy this year. In advocating for this year’s housing bond initiative, advocates pointed to the success of previous bond initiatives for funding statewide housing programs, as well as the significant need for statewide investment in affordable housing programs. A similar $50 million Housing Opportunity Bond initiative passed a statewide ballot vote in 2006, and a $25 million bond passed in 2012.
Initially Governor Raimondo called for a $40 million housing bond initiative in her statewide budget proposal this year, which was met with a call by housing advocates for an increase to $100 million. State Senator Juan Pichardo (D-Providence) and State Representative Scott Slater (D-Providence), two champions for housing in the State Legislature, introduced legislation to increase the bond initiative to $100 million. Though in the final bill advocates did not receive the full $100 million they sought, the passage of this year’s $50 million initiative by statewide elected officials marks a significant state investment in affordable housing development in Rhode Island.
“We are grateful to the General Assembly and the Governor for their leadership,” said LeeAnn Byrne, Policy Director at the Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless. “They understand that this investment in housing shows their understanding of its importance in the State’s economic development. We also thank our partners for clearly communicating this message, and for their commitment to our most vulnerable Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.”
The bond initiative now heads to the November ballot. A broad coalition of housing advocates and advocates representing other social justice issue areas will campaign in support of the bond initiative.
For more information, contact LeeAnn Byrne at email@example.com.