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Rob Horowitz: Affordable Housing Bond is a Good Investment for RI

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

 
While Rhode Island has made some solid investments in affordable housing, the state still faces a critical shortage, particularly in rental housing. This puts us at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting the skilled, young workers needed to power our economy and results in increased homelessness. Passing the Affordable Housing Bond, Question 7, on the ballot this November is important to our state’s future
 
The median cost of a two-bedroom rental in Rhode Island is more than $1,100 a month, making it difficult to impossible to afford for the 60 percent of renters who earn under $35,000. Rehabilitating existing housing stock or building new affordable housing, both of which can be accomplished through the proposed housing bond issue, will address a pressing need—especially in a state with an unemployment rate hovering around 11 percent. It will also have the added benefit of improving property values and stabilizing neighborhoods that have been hit hard by foreclosures resulting in abandoned properties that become beacons for crime and drugs..
 
Affordable housing bond issues have an impressive track record of generating economic growth. The $50 million bond issue adopted in Rhode Island in 2006 generated $800 million in total economic activity as estimated by IMPLAN, a widely used economic modeling tool. Spending produced by the bond issue created more than 6,000 jobs--nearly half of which were in the hard-hit construction sector.

This year’s bond issue is for $25 million—half of the investment made in 2006. It is estimated that it will leverage at least $6 for every one dollar spent on the construction of affordable homes. This investment will provide a badly needed shot in the arm for the stalled Rhode Island economy as well as creating the affordable housing needed to keep young college graduates from leaving our state and providing seniors on fixed incomes with real housing options.
 
So when you go to the polls on Tuesday November 6 to cast your vote for President, Congress and the General Assembly, be sure to go all the way down the ballot and find Question 7 to cast your vote for the Affordable Housing Bond. It is not only important to help people struggling to meet their day-to-day expenses to be able to find an affordable home, it is critical to building a better economic future for our state.
 
Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.
 

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