East Providence & Woonsocket Awarded $2.2 Million in Federal Housing Assistance
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, together with Congressman David Cicilline, today announced $2,210,654 in federal grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to support affordable housing initiatives for low-income families and provide emergency shelters and services for homeless individuals in East Providence and Woonsocket.
The federal funds will help the cities improve housing and expand economic opportunity in their communities; help homeless residents find shelter and access services; and support local programs that supply affordable housing.
“This federal funding will help Woonsocket and East Providence address some of their communities’ most pressing housing needs, while supporting job creation and boosting economic development. These housing and revitalization funds may be used to support affordable housing, improve public facilities, and strengthen our communities,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds these HUD programs.
“This federal funding will help East Providence and Woonsocket build more affordable housing and address some of the unique challenges each city faces – from caring for seniors to making buildings safe for children,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who has fought against Republicans’ attempts to reduce or eliminate funding for the HOME and CDBG programs. “I’m proud to support these grant programs, and I congratulate both cities on receiving these funds.”
“Ensuring access to affordable housing is one of the most effective strategies for growing Rhode Island’s economy, strengthening our cities and towns, and creating good-paying jobs for working men and women,” said Congressman David Cicilline, who earlier this year requested appropriations of $3.3 billion for CDBG, $2.48 billion for ESG, and $1.6 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships. “This new federal funding will provide significant benefits for taxpayers in both Woonsocket and East Providence, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work to bring important resources back to Rhode Island.”
Woonsocket and East Providence have been awarded $1,159,611 and $662,221 respectively from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which aims to grow affordable housing, and retain and expand local businesses in urban communities. The CDBG program gives local governments flexibility to use the funds for a wide array of community development purposes.
Woonsocket will receive $286,410 from HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) program, which funds housing initiatives, often in partnership with non-profit housing organizations. Grantees may use the funds for direct rental assistance to low-income residents; building new affordable housing stock; or rehabilitating affordable housing for rent.
Woonsocket will also receive $102,412 from the HUD Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) program. ESG provides funds to combat homelessness through improving the quality and operations of homeless shelters and providing essential services for those who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness.
The federal government considers a household that devotes more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs to be “cost burdened,” meaning it risks sacrificing spending on other essentials like food, clothing, medical care, or transportation. According to a 2015 analysis of U.S. Census data by the non-profit housing coalition HousingWorks RI, half of all Rhode Island renter households, and a third of Rhode Island households with a mortgage, were cost burdened in 2013. The same HousingWorks RI study found that in 2014, a household earning the state’s median renter household income of $30,437 could not affordably rent the average priced 2-bedroom apartment in any Rhode Island city or town.