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DARE protests RI Housing’s Barbara Jordan II tours for wealthy developers

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“Bad Developers beware! You’re dealing with DARE!” chanted DARE members.

DARE confronts developers touring Barbara Jordan II as part of a RI Housing event to demand low-income tenant representation on the board making decisions about the future of the development.

Rhode Island Housing held a tour for developers of one of the units located within the Barbara Jordan II housing complex on Somerset Street in Providence this morning. Over 30 developers, investors and contractors seemed to be in attendance. This is part of Providence’s RFP (Request for Proposals), where developers will be asked for their ideas and bids to renovate the complex.

Activists from DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality) were on hand to remind these developers and Rhode Island Housing that low-income tenants living in the City have no representation on the committee that will review the submitted RFPs. DARE is emanding that three low-income tenants living in Providence (or who may be currently homeless) be added to the review committee for developer applications.

DARE made the four block trek from their offices to the Rhode Island Housing tour, catching developers, some of whom arrive in cars equal in value to the homes on offer, as they were filling out liability forms before beginning their tours.

“We are from the City!” chanted DARE, “Put us on the Committee” as well as, “We say Nigh to Gentrify!”

Christopher Samih-Rotondo

“We’re members of a community organization called DARE, right down the street,” said organizer Christopher Samih-Rotondo. “We’ve been working with Rhode Island Housing, to use a diplomatic term, on the RFP for this development and the one thing that’s been left out of the conversation is including low-income tenants on the committee that’s going to review your applications.


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“If you’re here as a potential developer, please keep in mind Rhode Island Housing has not let any low-income tenants from the neighborhood sit on the review committee, so your applications will not be vetted by local residents or the people who are supposed to benefit from this project,” continued Samih-Rotondo.

“If you’re interested in hearing the voices of those folks, you should speak to Rhode Island Housing officials and ask them to place members of this community and low-income tenants onto their committee,” continued Samih-Rotundo. “We’d be happy to talk with you all more about the importance of this development to the neighborhood and to get you in touch with those very same low income tenants from the neighborhood, members of our organization. They need to be heard.”

As the developers lined up to tour and inspect the building, DARE chanted, “listen to our voices” over and over again.

No one at Rhode Island Housing or among the developers going on the tour seemed to be listening…


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Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade. atomicsteve@gmail.com