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Council Introduces a Newly Revised Law to Protect Affordable Housing in the City

Council Introduces a Newly Revised Law to Protect Affordable Housing in the City

Providence, RI – A revised and strengthened 8 Law ordinance was introduced at tonight’s Council meeting (off docket). The new ordinance was crafted after significant input and lengthy discussions with community partners, who are out in Providence’s neighborhoods building and protecting affordable housing units.


The changes made from the previously introduced version add flexibility in compliance, reduce redundancies, and eliminate the possibility of unintended burdens on organizations that are increasing the affordable housing stock across the city.


Following weeks of collaboration, Housing Network of Rhode Island, the state association of nonprofit developers, sent Council a letter that read in part: “We wish to commend the City Council staff, President and members, and extend our sincere thanks, for their incredible responsiveness to our outreach efforts to elevate our concerns. The time that was taken by City Council staff, president and individual  members to truly hear and understand our concerns, and work together to address those concerns, was exceptional and in our minds, stands out as a model for how municipal level government can be a real partner in advancing common goals.”


The law, commonly known as the 8 Law and introduced earlier this year by Council President Rachel Miller, considers rental units ‘low-income’ when restricted to tenants earning 80% or less of the area median income (AMI), and the rent is limited to 30% of their income. In the past, this tax treatment has been abused, with wealthy developers applying it to entire buildings that only have a few income-restricted units or even for commercial spaces in mixed-use buildings.


“Councilors held multiple meaningful discussions with our community development groups and non-profit developers over the last two weeks,” said Council President Rachel Miller (Ward 13). “We listened and collaboratively made the appropriate changes to the legislation. Council urgently needs to move forward with this ordinance to close the tax loophole being taken advantage of by ultra-wealthy developers and to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share in our city.”



City Regions Decided for School Board Elections

Councilors finalized the boundaries for five city regions that will ultimately select Providence’s first five elected school board members this fall. The council’s Ward Boundaries Committee considered community feedback from multiple public hearings in neighborhoods across Providence, which created a map that represents the North, East, South, West, and Central areas of the city. The map groups Wards 1, 2, and 3 for the first school board region, Wards 4, 5, and 14 for the second school board region, Wards 6, 7, and 15 for the third school board region, Wards 8, 9, and 10 for the fourth school board region, and Wards 11, 12, and 13 for the fifth school board region. Each of the five regions hosts approximately 20% of the city population, roughly 40,000 residents.


The deadline for candidates interested in running for school board positions is June 26th. The elections are nonpartisan, and no primary will be held. Elections are scheduled for November 5th. Providence residents who are interested in running for school board can learn more by calling the Providence Board of Canvasser’s office at 401-680-5525 or by visiting their website at



Councilors Approve $6.2 Million in Community Funds for Immediate Neighborhood Needs

Councilors took steps tonight to provide funding that will have immediate impacts on Providence’s neighborhoods and community organizations. Councilors passed, for the first time, an ordinance totaling $6.285 million in federal community development block grant funding (CDGB). The funding will help support community centers and public service programs across the city. Public service grants will also assist folks with unemployment and homelessness, clothing, music education, and domestic violence resources. CDGB funds were thoroughly reviewed by the council’s Committee on Urban Redevelopment Renewal and Planning (URRP), chaired by Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11). A second passage is required.



Requirement for Short-Term Lenders to be Licensed

Councilors passed an ordinance amendment into law that adds protection for customers of short-term lenders by requiring those lenders to be licensed in Providence. Short-term lenders typically loan borrowers credit with exorbitantly high interest. The new law requires a short-term lender to pay an annual licensing fee of $250. Lenders are also required to maintain accounting records that are open and available for inspection by the police department or other authorized personnel.


“Payday lenders continue to prey on the most vulnerable working family members of our community. While we wait for the General Assembly to pass further regulations, the Providence City Council took action and added stricter oversight to these lenders, so that we can increase accountability and help protect our residents from high interest small loans,” Council President Pro Tempore Juan M. Pichardo (Ward 9).


Demolition Permits

Neighbors and abutters will now have more information before a property is demolished. Councilors passed into law an ordinance amendment that now sets a more stringent notification process for the demolition of property in the city. Last year, three adjacent historic homes were demolished on the city’s East Side with minimal notice to neighbors. Senior Deputy Majority Leader John Goncalves (Ward 1) first introduced the ordinance amendment, which requires demo applicants to submit a copy of their application to owners within 200 feet of a lot set to be demolished.


Councilors Urge RIPTA to Consider Changes to Central Bus Hub Upgrades

The Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority (RIPTA) and, separately, the Special Committee on Environment and Resiliency recently allowed public comment on the proposed relocation of Rhode Island’s central bus hub. A resolution opposing this move was reintroduced with key changes, including a push for RIPTA to consider Kennedy Plaza as a viable site for the upgraded bus hub. The resolution supports eliminating Parcel 35, near Interstate 95, as an option due to its distance from essential downtown services. As this process continues, it is crucial that the needs of bus riders are prioritized. Ensuring that these key stakeholders are valued in this conversation will empower the city to leverage public transportation as a tool to mitigate climate change and connect our communities.


“It is crucial that the voices of bus riders in our communities are front and center in any decisions about changes to Rhode Island’s central bus hub,” said Councilor Sue AnderBois (Ward 3). “Without the backing of community members who bus across the city every day, we jeopardize the environmental, social and economic benefits of public transportation. Solutions need to work for current riders and to entice additional new riders.”


PVD School Graduates Considered for Open Jobs

As a major employer in the city, the City of Providence plays a key role in providing opportunities for residents to stay local and contribute as public servants. In the overwhelmingly approved ordinance amendment, Providence Public School District (PPSD) graduates must now be considered for open jobs with the City of Providence or PPSD. If one or more qualified PPSD graduates apply for a job posted by the city or PPSD within seven days of being advertised, the Human Resources Department will be required to interview at least one applicant. The Human Resources Department will also maintain records tracking information about applicants and existing employees who are PPSD graduates.

Providence Housing Trust Fund Leveraged to Support Affordable Housing

In an effort to mitigate the affordable housing crisis in Providence, the City Council is protecting crucial money designated for or allocated by the Providence Housing Trust Fund. In the proposed ordinance amendment, housing is considered “affordable” when the rent or mortgage is limited to 30% of the resident’s monthly income. This amendment ensures that these funds are only used for the construction, development, or financing of housing that is affordable to households earning less than or equal to 80% or less of the area median income (AMI) or homeownership units affordable to households earning up to 120% of the AMI. Affordable housing is a Council policy priority and these key funds are a powerful tool to support this initiative.


“With this updated language, we are ensuring that Providence Housing Trust Fund funds are reserved for the affordable housing we so urgently need in our neighborhoods,” said Councilor Justin Roias (Ward 4). “Now these funds are protected and directed toward housing that is affordable for our resident renters or homeowners.”