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HomesRI announces legislative agenda at State House event



One area that does not need more study is Senator Harold Metts’ proposal to end housing discrimination based on source of income,” said Senate President Dominick Ruggerio.

HomesRI, a “cross-sector coalition of organizations working together to increase and preserve the supply of safe, healthy and affordable homes throughout Rhode Island,” held an event at the State House on Tuesday to announce their 2020 legislative agenda. The State Room was filled to overflowing with supporters.

The legislative agenda includes many of the ideas Governor Gina Raimondo outlined in her proposed budget, such as a bond referendum of at least $25m to re-fund the Building Homes Rhode Island program and a permanent funding stream for affordable homes of at least $8m per year to support the production and operation of rental housing serving households at or below 60 percent area median income (AMI). They are also requesting at least $4m per year to support the preservation of expiring affordable units.

Other legislative priorities include Pay for Success, a social impact bond that “would bring tangible housing resources and realize long term savings for Rhode Island,” a prohibition on discrimination based on a tenant’s source of income, support for the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act which would destigmatize eviction histories for Rhode Islanders and a “language correction to the Real Estate Conveyance Tax.”

Below is all the video:

The speaking program began with Angela Bannerman Ankoma, Executive Vice President and Director of Community Investment at United Way of Rhode Island, who emceed the event:

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) strongly called for the passage of a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on source of income, such as Section 8 housing vouchers, veteran’s benefits or alimony. The Senate passed the bill twice in the last two years, only to have the bill die in committee over at the House, “held for further study.”

“One area that does not need more study is Senator Harold Metts’ proposal to end housing discrimination based on source of income,” said Ruggerio to cheers and applause.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea told the people in the room that to pass these initiatives, it’s important to press the General Assembly members, even if you think they agree with you.

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Governor Gina Raimondo’s Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor could not attend, but sent a video message.

Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing:

Kathryn Power, Director of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH):

Cali Babbit Spears from Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships (SOAR) and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence spoke about the housing challenges she faced when leaving an abusive relationship.

Alexandra Gonzalez, from Voices of Homelessness and the Rhode Island Coalition fro the Homeless spoke about being a mother in recovery, and the challenges she faces finding housing:

Joshua Guzmán from Foster Forward, spoke about his difficulties finding housing:

Dr Matt Collins from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island wrapped things up:

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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.