Championing housing as a right, not a privilege
It’s no secret that Rhode Island is in the midst of a housing crisis — one that began prior to COVID-19 and that’s since reached epic proportions over the past 18 months. As it’s estimated the Ocean State is short some 20,000+ units of affordable housing to meet the needs of families and individuals deemed housing insecure, one group in particular is leading the charge toward flipping the script.
And that is Homes RI, the recipient of our inaugural Community United Award, which honors the collective effort needed to make progress and create true change in our communities.
"I don’t know that there’s been a stronger driving force behind Rhode Island’s need for more affordable housing than the coalition of organizations who’ve come together as Homes RI," says Cortney Nicolato, United Way of Rhode Island’s president and CEO. "And that’s huge, because there isn’t an issue more pressing or more important to our state’s ability to thrive than housing."
Since being established more than four years ago, Homes RI has realized victories around some of the coalition’s largest priorities. Among them is the creation of a dedicated funding stream in the state budget for affordable housing production and the signing into law of the Fair Housing Practices Act, which prohibits source of income discrimination in Rhode Island. And earlier this year, their unified advocacy in support of the $65 million Housing and Community Opportunity Bond helped the measure pass by a wide margin, while the group has worked tirelessly on the eviction and foreclosure moratoriums and various other housing programs throughout the pandemic.
"For many generations, housing policies were rooted in systemic and institutional racism and keeping people out of communities," says Katie West of Housing Network of Rhode Island, and HomesRI manager. "We’ve worked hard to advance equity in housing, and much more work is needed. I look at this award not that we’ve achieved our goal, but as an invitation to keep making progress every day for more safe, healthy, and affordable homes."