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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Misleading headline, incorrect info about Charlestown housing

 The CCA can drop its alert level to DefCon 5

By Will Collette

Screenshot from Westerly Sun Dec. 1 edition

I can imagine Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA) leader and Planning Commissar Ruth Platner upchucking her organic breakfast after reading the above headline. She has spent just about all her time in Charlestown town government fighting any construction of any housing, but especially affordable housing, in Charlestown. 

Her objective is to maintain Charlestown's "rural character" and that means no housing for those people who need it to be affordable.

Other newspapers also ran this story and included notice that one house was going to be built in Charlestown through an $88,000 grant to South County Habitat. Their headquarters are on South County Trail here in Charlestown.

The problem is the news reports are wrong. Note that this is an Associated Press story, not one written by the Sun staff, although a little fact-checking could have been done.

While it is true that Charlestown-based South County Habitat did indeed receive $424,204 in new state funding to build affordable housing, NONE of it is to be built in Charlestown. So relax, Ruth.

SC Habitat is a chapter of the much-beloved Habitat for Humanity. They have built homes in Charlestown before, with the grudging approval of Platner and the CCA. 

But this time around, that $88.000 will be spent building one house in South Kingstown near URI. According to Habitat, "The remaining $326,204 is for three-single family homes being built on Cardinal Lane in Hopkinton."

So let joy be restored to the Platner-Vanover household - no new affordable housing in Charlestown despite our desperate need. 

Here is the official news release from South County Habitat for Humanity:

Habitat receives $424,204 in funding

PRESS RELEASE – December 6, 2021

For Immediate Release

For more information, contact: Colin Penney, phone: (401) 213-6711 x304

South County Habitat for Humanity receives $424,204 in funding, largest in organization’s 31 year history.

Charlestown, R.I. South County Habitat for Humanity has been awarded $424,204 in funding through the Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) program. This is the largest grant in the organization's 31 year history.

In March 2021 at a special election, Rhode Islanders voted “Yes on 3” approving a $65 million Bond for Housing and Community Opportunity.

“My team spent the early part of 2021 tirelessly spreading awareness about the special election, encouraging the community to get out and vote,” remarked Colin Penney, Executive Director at South County Habitat for Humanity. 

“Thankfully, the Bond passed, and because of such, our organization has been awarded $424,204 to fund the construction of four homes right here in Washington County. I’m still in disbelief, and so very grateful for everyone who voted to invest in the community. Because of them, four low-income families in need of safe, decent and affordable housing, will soon have a home of their own,” added Penney.

Of the funding, $88,000 is for a single family unit of homeownership being built in South Kingstown, close to the University of Rhode Island. Habitat anticipates breaking ground on this project in early Spring. In November 2021, Habitat opened applications for this property and fielded more than 100 phone calls from families interested in applying. The need for affordable housing in Washington County is greater than ever.

The remaining $326,204 is for three-single family homes being built on Cardinal Lane in Hopkinton. After these units are completed Habitat will be building four more units on the same street. Construction will begin on these homes in the summer of 2022. Habitat hopes to open a homeownership application round in the spring for the units.

The BHRI funding is an unbelievable financial opportunity, but it also means Habitat will need volunteer support from the community, to keep pace with the rigorous construction schedule. If you are interested in lending a hand (or hammer), please visit or call (401) 213-6711.

About South County Habitat for Humanity

South County Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating, and preserving homes, by advocating for fair and just housing policies, and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. For more general information, call (401) 213-6711, or go to our website at