Rhode Island State House

House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi and Rep. June S. Speakman, chairwoman of the Special Legislative Commission to Study the Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, today announced a package of 11 bills to help address the state’s housing crisis.

According to a press release from the Rhode Island General Assembly, the bills aim to streamline development, provide more complete and timely information about housing and help municipalities meet their affordable housing goals.

Joining Speaker Shekarchi and Chairwoman Speakman at a State House news conference today announcing the bills were members of the commission, legislators, housing advocates, and developers.

Besides Speaker Shekarchi and Chairwoman Speakman, the 11 bills in the package are sponsored by Representatives Mia A. Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln), Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston), Arthur J. Corvese (D-Dist. 55, North Providence), Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick) and Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston).


Descriptions of the bills are below:

2022-H 7949 Rep. Speakman

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

·         Updates the low and moderate income housing act.

·         Revises the procedure for approval of construction of low or moderate income housing and removes the requirement of a pre application conference.

·         Revises the State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB) appeal procedure as outlined below in 2022-H 7945.

·         Revises the composition of SHAB and requires the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission to provide all space, clerical, and other assistance as the board may require.

·         Improves an approved monitoring agent program for which the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission shall appoint and oversee approved monitoring agents.

·         Provides that the Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of the program on or before July 1, 2023.

2022-H 7940  Speaker Shekarchi
AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT — EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF COMMERCE

  • Elevates the position of Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Housing to the Secretary of Commerce for Housing, a cabinet-level position within the executive branch of government, reporting to the Governor.
  • The Secretary of Commerce for Housing would retain all the powers, duties, responsibilities, and obligations of the Deputy Secretary of Commerce for Housing.
  • Effective July 1, 2022.

2022-H 7945 Rep. Speakman

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Requires the State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB) to issue decisions and orders no later than 9 months after receipt of the applicant’s statement. If the decision and order is not issued within 9 months, a judgment shall be entered in favor of the applicant.
  • Amends the composition of SHAB by adding:
    • A member selected by the Speaker of the House and another selected by the Senate President. 
    • 2 more alternates selected by the Speaker of the House.

2022-H 7941 Speaker Shekarchi

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Provides that multi-family rental apartment units built under a comprehensive permit may be calculated towards meeting the requirements of a municipality’s low or moderate income housing inventory.
  • Requires that at least 25% of the units created are deed restricted for households earning not more than 60% of AMI.

2022-H 7943 Rep. Baginski

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING  

  • Establishes the repurposing of schools and other vacant and unused municipal buildings for an affordable housing program, which shall be administered by the Rhode Island Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporation.
  • Requires the League of Cities and Towns to provide Rhode Island Housing with a list of all vacant and unused municipal buildings.
  • Requires the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission and the Rhode Island Division of Statewide Planning to investigate, in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Health, a Fire Marshall, the local building inspector, and the local zoning officer, any potential conversion.
  • Once a building is determined to be appropriate for conversion, Rhode Island Housing shall invite prospective developers to bid on the repurposing.

2022-H 7942 Rep. Ackerman

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – ZONING ORDINANCES

  • Revises the definition of an accessory dwelling unit and removes the requirement that an Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) be occupied by someone related by family to the principal residence.
  • Streamlines the application process for small scale ADU development proposals.
  • Allows for ADUs in large lot residential districts.
  • Allows municipalities to count ADUs toward low and moderate income housing requirements and goals.

2022-H 7946 Rep. Noret

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

·         Requires Rhode Island Housing to:

o   Maintain records on the number of Section 8 Housing Choice vouchers which are received and utilized by each municipality, housing authorities, and agencies.

o   Report on its website the dollar amount received by public housing agencies for administering the Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

2022-H 7948 Rep. Potter

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Provides that mobile and manufactured homes may be included in calculating the number of total year-round low and moderate income housing and rental units and the conditions that would allow for that (e.g., income eligibility, 10 year minimum deed restriction).

2022-H 7944 Rep. Corvese

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Requires the Statewide Planning Division to establish an affordable housing online database which shall include the following information:
    • A list of low and moderate income housing units in the state, identified by each municipality.
    • The number of active applications pending for a comprehensive permit application to build affordable housing and the number of applications which have had permits issued for affordable housing plans, aggregated by each municipality.
    • A list of available affordable housing units along with contact information for the rental or purchase of these units.

2022-H 7950 Rep. Speakman

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Improves an approved monitoring agent program for which the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission shall appoint and oversee approved monitoring agents.
  • Provides that the Commission shall promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of the program on or before July 1, 2023.

2022-H 7947 Rep. Potter

AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES – LOW AND MODERATE INCOME HOUSING

  • Requires Rhode Island Housing to maintain records and prepare reports on a biannual basis to the General Assembly, the Housing Resources Commission and the Secretary of Commerce for Housing.
  • The reports shall be made available on Rhode Island Housing’s website for a period of at least 3 years and shall include the total amount of fees collected and payments made in lieu of taxes that were collected by each municipality.

Ryan Belmore is the Owner and Publisher of What'sUpNewp.

He currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals.

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