Reed & Grebien: $26M in New Federal Housing Aid Should Help Renovate Rental Properties, Revitalize Neighborhoods & Ease Affordable Housing Crunch
PAWTUCKET, RI – As America faces an affordable housing crunch, U.S. Senator Jack Reed is working to deliver federal resources to help communities across Rhode Island prevent homelessness and boost the supply of safe, high-quality affordable housing. And Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien is leading innovative approaches and community investment strategies to expand affordable housing opportunities for Pawtucket residents.
Typically, housing costs are the largest part of the average household budget. A growing number of households are spending a disproportionate share of their incomes on housing as rent prices have risen and the number of rentals considered affordable compared to local wages has been low. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition: “No state or major metropolitan area has an adequate supply of rental housing for the poorest renters. As a result of this shortage of affordable homes, 70% of extremely low-income renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing. They account for over 72% of all severely housing cost-burdened renters in the U.S. Extremely low-income households with severe cost burdens struggle to pay for other necessities, like food, transportation, child care, and healthcare.”
Today, Senator Reed joined Mayor Grebien at the Pawtucket Housing Authority to outline new federal funding to address the affordable housing shortage, better ensure workers can afford to live closer to their jobs, and help prevent homelessness. Leveraging these federal dollars is key to creating more high-quality, affordable rental housing and attracting new investment. Creating new affordable rental opportunities and also working to prevent homelessness can help keep people safely housed through the pandemic and build momentum for the further economic revitalization of Pawtucket.
The newly enacted American Rescue Plan contains $23.1 million in HOME Investments Partnership Program funds for the Ocean State to develop affordable housing and prevent homelessness to keep more Rhode Islanders safely housed. The HOME program is administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
The American Rescue Plan directs $5.9 million in HOME funds to Providence, $1.6 million to Woonsocket, $13.5 million for statewide funds, and over $2 million will go directly to the City of Pawtucket. This comes on top of $572,978 in HOME funding Pawtucket received in February, as a result of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations law (P.L. No: 116-260).
Rhode Island is also receiving a new $3.1 million boost to create new affordable housing opportunities thanks to Senator Reed’s national Housing Trust Fund (HTF), a program he created in 2008. Under Senator Reed’s law, government-sponsored housing entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are assessed a small fee on their profits that goes into the national HTF to build, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable rental housing. This year, the national HTF is allocating nearly $700 million nationwide.
“A safe and affordable home may be the single most effective and available form of personal protective equipment against COVID-19. So we’ve got keep people safely housed now and prevent people from becoming homeless. That is step one. Step two is making sustained investments in increasing the supply of housing that people can afford to strengthen communities. The gap between rents and what is affordable has to be closed, and we have to focus even more on creating additional affordable housing to keep up with demand. We’ve got to make a sustained commitment to developing high-quality affordable housing opportunities so that workers can afford to live and raise a family in the communities they serve. This federal funding will prevent homeless and will be leveraged to help increase or maintain the supply of affordable rental units so that high-quality homes can be within reach of more families,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, who also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD).
“On behalf of the City of Pawtucket, I thank Senator Reed for his continued commitment to our community and residents through the more than $2 million in American Rescue Plan Act HOME Supplemental Allocation,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “This federal funding will help our residents stay safe and healthy, reducing COVID transmission through stable, affordable housing.”
Since December, Senator Reed has helped direct more than $425 million in federal housing resources to Rhode Island to help keep people safe in their homes during the pandemic and support a sustainable economic recovery. This includes $352 million in Emergency Rental Assistance Funds and $50 million for Homeowner Assistance Funds to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Senator Reed was the lead architect of the Homeowner Assistance Funds provision in the American Rescue Plan.