In the political round-up column on January 13, 2023, written by Ian Donnis of The Public’s Radio, (RINPR), the focus was squarely on affordable housing and the inside track that former Commerce Secretary Stephan Pryor had on getting the new job for the housing job. (He has since been named to that post.)
Charlestown Affordable Housing Commission member, Thom Cahir was able to offer a quote on the current state of inertia when it comes to the issue, and a plea for all parties to come together and craft legislation that works for all parties, not try to force a “one size fits all” solution on every municipality:
"The issue of affordable housing in Rhode Island has been a minefield since the legislature mandated municipalities reach a 10% threshold 30 years ago. Living conditions should have become fairer and more equitable, but only disparity and dichotomy remain. Legislation passed at the end of the session last year was a good start, but with housing costs and rent so high, and people living outdoors and not enough space to shelter them, now is the time to bring all stakeholders together to craft something that allows for more than a "one size fits all" solution. What works in urban areas caused those of us in the hinterlands to rewrite whole swaths of affordable housing, zoning and planning ordinances to come into compliance. Work with local officials to find specific workarounds. Convene the experts to discuss renovating existing structures in cities, and boosting accessory dwelling units in the suburbs and rural areas. And most of all, educate the NIMBY class that their kids can't move back home after college if all they care about is their property values. Also, citizens need to know that communities can't thrive without a healthy workforce. I would urge whoever ends up as the new housing secretary to work with the General Assembly as an opportunity to enlist every stakeholder to push for every creative idea being explored in every corner of the state to make housing more affordable. If not now, when?
Housing affordability was clearly a concern expressed in last year's Town Survey. This should be a great time to give our Affordable Housing Commission help and support to achieve what the town needs instead of creating and propagating rumors.