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Friday, May 24, 2013

Even if you can find a rental...

The rent in Rhode Island is too damn high , according to a new report from HousingWorks RI.

To afford a typical two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island a renter would need to earn more than $47,000 per year. About half of Rhode Island residents earn less than that.

“What’s more, a quarter of all Rhode Island renter households pay over 50 percent of their income on housing costs,” says the report. “Rhode Islanders who spend more than half their incomes on housing cannot fully participate in their local economies. Quite simply, affordable housing is an essential part of our state’s economic infrastructure and necessary for economic growth.”

Rhode Island’s paltry investment in affordable housing is a significant stumbling block in improving the state’s economy, the report says. And we’re lagging far behind our neighbors. 

Connecticut spends $34 per capita on affordable housing and Massachusetts spends $32. Rhode Island, on the other hand, spends only $12 per capita on affordable housing.

Both Connecticut and Massachusetts recognize why affordable housing is essential for a stronger economy,” said Jessica Cigna, the research and policy associate for HousingWorks RI. “As a result, they invest money to build affordable housing and appropriate significant budget dollars that help make rents in those developments affordable to lower-wage workers.”

The report also says that investing in affordable housing is good for the overall economy.

High housing cost burdens are bad for business. An inadequate supply of affordable housing puts Rhode Island at a distinct competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining workers. Employers from across the country report that a shortage of affordable housing negatively affects their ability to sustain and grow their businesses.”

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.