The effort to make housing affordable

Thu, 04/11/2019 - 9:15pm

Although this week’s edition of the paper goes to the printer before we know the outcome of the vote, the effort to change the income requirements on Block Island so that more people may be eligible for affordable housing has been an excellent and well-timed one.

State Rep. Blake Filippi, the House Minority Leader who represents Block Island, introduced bill H 5451 on Feb. 14 and it was expected to be voted on in both chambers of the General Assembly on Thursday, April 11. What the bill does is increase the percentage of area median income for individuals and families from 120 percent to 140 percent — but only on Block Island. The reason being the median income on Block Island is much higher than in other communities in the state — most likely a statistical twist, and not the reality for the year-round population (which is why this sector of the population needs help).

The effort dovetails nicely with the next phase of the Cherry Hill Lane affordable housing subdivision proposed for a site just off Cooneymus Road. To widen the net of who will be eligible for these lovely little homes is a wise one.

Just recently, four affordable apartments at the Harbor Church were rented through a lottery process. The interesting thing was that the number of eligible occupants equaled the number of apartments, making one wonder how big the pool of eligible people for new affordable housing units currently is on Block Island.

That’s why the net should be spread wider. Whether it is or not depends on the votes in the General Assembly on H 5451. Kudos not only to Filippi but also to the Housing Board, and to Housing Board Chair Cindy Pappas and Town Manager Ed Roberge for making the trek to Providence to lobby for this important legislation.