Candidates for Providence City Council answer tough questions on housing and poverty

Less than half of the candidates running for Providence City Council across all 15 Wards attended the PVD Housing Crisis City Council Candidate Forum on Wednesday evening. Hosted by DARE (Direct Action for Rights and Equality)’s Tenant and Homeowner Association (THA), Rhode Island Interfaith Coalition to Reduce Poverty, George Wiley Center, Housing Works Rhode Island and Rhode Island Homeless Advocacy Project (RIHAP) among others, candidates were given two minutes each to answer five questions.

Below is the video from the event, broken down by question and candidate.

“Everyone needs a place to live,” said Terri Wright, speaking for the Tenant and Home Owner Association and as a member of DARE’s board of directors. “Having a safe, decent, affordable home should be a right for all, not a privilege.”


QUESTION 1:

“Do you support the rent stabilization ordinance proposed by DARE’s Tenant and Homeowner Association in order to address rising rents, mass evictions and displacement across the city?”

Seth Yurdin (Democrat) is the incumbent Providence City Councilmember from Ward 1.

Justice Gaines (Democrat) is running for Providence City Council in Ward 1.

None of the candidates for Providence City Council running for the open seat in Ward 2, Helen Anthony, Mark Feinstein or Ryan Holt, attended the forum. All are Democrats.

Incumbent Ward 3 Providence City Councilmember Nirva Lafortune (Democrat), who is running unopposed, did not attend the forum.

Jason Roias is running for Providence City Council in Ward 4 against Nicholas Narducci Jr in the September 12 Democratic Primary. Narducci did not attend the forum.

Aaron Jaehnig is running for Providence City Council in Ward 5 against incumbent JoAnn Ryan. Both Ryan and candidate Steven Cianci did not attend the forum. All are Democrats.

Incumbent Ward 6 Providence City Councilmember Michael Correia (Democrat), who is running unopposed, did not attend the forum.

Incumbent Ward 7 Providence City Councilmember John Iggliozzi, did not attend the forum. His opponent in the Democratic Primary, David Marshall, did not attend the forum. Gaspar Espinoza, running as an Independent, did not attend the forum.

Carlos Diaz is running as an Independent for Providence City Council in Ward 8. David Talan, also running as an Independent, did not attend the forum.

Deya Garcia is challenging incumbent Ward 8 Providence City Councilmember Wilbur Jennings in the Democratic Primary on September 12. James Taylor, also running as a Democrat, did not attend the forum.

Carmen Castillo (Democrat) is the incumbent Ward 9 Providence City Councilmember. Hector Jose, who is challenging Castillo in the Democratic Primary, did not attend the forum. Gerard Catala, who is running as an Independent, arrived in time for the last question (see below). Catala’s candidacy was denied by the Providence Board of Canvassers. He is currently appealing that decision before the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

Luis Aponte is the incumbent Ward 10 Providence City Councilmember. Pedro Espina, who is challenging Aponte in the Democratic Primary, did not attend the forum. Russell Hryzan, an Independent challenger to Aponte, did not attend the forum.

Incumbent Ward 11 Providence City Councilmember Mary Kay Harris (Democrat), is running unopposed.

Democratic candidate Kat Kerwin, who is running unopposed for Ward 12 Providence City Council, did not attend the forum.

Cyd McKenna is running for the Ward 13 Providence City Council open seat as a Democrat.

Rachel Miller is running for the Ward 13 Providence City Council open seat as a Democrat.

Raymond Berarducci III and Leslie Papp II also running for the open seat as Democrats, did not attend the forum.

Incumbent Ward 14 Providence City Council President David Salvatore, did not attend the forum. Anthony Sionni, running as an Independent, did not attend the forum.

Incumbent Ward 15 4 Providence City Councilmember Sabina Matos, did not attend the forum. Oscar Vargas, who is challenging Matos in the Democratic Primary, did not attend the forum.


QUESTION 2:

“Due to the housing crisis, youth feel stressed and pressured at home, thus dropping out of school to get jobs and pay rent. There’s no extra money or resources at home. Which makes college tuition beyond the means of students. How are you, as a potential city councilmember, going to ensure that the next generation is provided the necessities for educational success?”

Rachel Miller:

Cyd McKenna:

Mary Kay Harris:

Luis Aponte:

Carmen Castillo:

Deya Garcia:

Carlos Diaz:

Aaron Jaehnig:

Jason Roias:

Justice Gaines:

Seth Yurdin:


QUESTION 3:

“As a city councilor how will you ensure funding for the construction, rehabilitation and operating costs of genuinely affordable housing, including for low-income folks earning between $10,000 and $30,000 each year?

“Providence has a history of entering into tax stabilization agreements (TSA) with developers. Would you commit to ensuring that every TSA include a mandatory percentage of low-income and affordable units in any residential development and/or linkage fees charged per square foot of development sufficient to actually produce, rehab and operate affordable and low-income housing that the city desperately needs?”

Seth Yurdin:

Justice Gaines:

Jason Roias:

Aaron Jaehnig:

Carlos Diaz:

Deya Garcia:

Carmen Castillo:

Luis Aponte:

Mary Kay Harris:

Cyd McKenna:

Rachel Miller:


QUESTION 4:

“There are many ways in which Providence’s homeless population is being criminalized, such as through the policing of their bodies in public spaces and hostile architecture. What are your specific strategies to prevent the criminalization  of poverty in Providence?”

Rachel Miller:

Cyd McKenna:

Mary Kay Harris:

Luis Aponte:

Carmen Castillo:

Deya Garcia:

Carlos Diaz:

Aaron Jaehnig:

Jason Roias:

Justice Gaines:

Seth Yurdin:


QUESTION 5:

“According to the 2017 Department of Corrections Annual Report, an estimated 20 percent of folks released from the Adult Correctional Institutions return to the City of Providence. The Ella Baker center conducted a survey of of all the incarcerated folks in 2015 where 72 percent of those surveyed responded that the absence of affordable housing was the most significant stumbling block to securing stable housing. Similar to the experiences shared at the weekly Behind the Walls meetings, the survey also states that family members are the first, most fundamental source of housing reported at the time of release, yet, for many families providing support to loved ones returning to the community results in loss or insecurity of their own housing. Altogether, roughly one in five families, 18 percent, reported being evicted or denied housing when their formerly incarcerated family member returned.

“In this climate of stigma, how do you intend to work to ensure significant access to stable and affordable housing for people returning to the community post-incarceration?”

Seth Yurdin:

Justice Gaines:

Jason Roias:

Aaron Jaehnig:

Carlos Diaz:

Deya Garcia:

Gerard Catala:

Carmen Castillo:

Luis Aponte:

Mary Kay Harris:

Cyd McKenna:

Rachel Miller:

Some final thoughts from DARE’s Malchus Mills and Terri Wright:


See:

Providence City Council challengers decry lack of affordable housing



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About Steve Ahlquist 658 Articles
Steve Ahlquist is a frontline reporter in Rhode Island. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for half a decade. Uprise RI is his new project, and he's doing all he can to make it essential reading. atomicsteve@gmail.com

2 Comments

  1. I’ve watched many of these videos twice. The discussion re: Question #3 about TSAs(the subject of TIF districts is completely elided) I find particularly interesting because it seems to me some of the speakers would like to hitch the interests of the poor and dispossessed to those of the ones who would put them there, i. e., the wealthy and the powerful.

    To quote our current mayor from his paper, Landlords, Rent Control, and [“]Healthy[“] Gentrification, Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy, Volume 17, Issue 1, Fall 2007 :

    “I ask rhetorically: Why would the politically or economically powerful ever purposefully disadvantage themselves?265

    It follows that to the extent the poor align their interest with those of the politically and economically powerful, they will be more likely to achieve their goals.”

    Elorza’s quote seems to sum up the current political strategy in today’s entrepreneurial cities, where citizens have been displaced by customers of the privatized, feudal city. It’s an old strategy designed to maintain the feudal order and make wealth and power “sustainable” for the “politically and economically powerful”.

    The stories of the “poor door” from NYC in some of these luxury housing complexes that have been circulating since 2014 don’t seem to contain any mention of how these “poor door” policies have alleviated any problems brought on by gentrification. From what I gather, not only has Manhattan become inaccessible to many, but Brooklyn, too. I don’t know about L A. Have things really worked out so well there?

    As far as the candidates are concerned, Aponte’s interests seem to be aligned w/ those of Yurdin. Gaines is realistic about the immediacy of the housing problem. McKenna expressed a somewhat balanced, realistic response to Marcus Mills’s Question #1 while it was encouraging to hear Jaehnig’s responses re: all the problems TSAs have created.

    It just seems remarkable that no one mentions, except for Garcia, Harris, and Castillo the deficits created by providing services to the health and educational non-profits, virtually tax free, particularly to Brown, whose doubling . . . tripling . . . etc. endowments have occurred along with the rise in homeless. They, however, don’t mention the endowments of grant making institutions that fund a lot of programs organized to deal with homelessness, a phenomenon whose growth seems to correlate with the growth in the endowment of the largest local grant making institution. They, also, don’t seem to understand that buildings w/ TSAs and those in TIF districts create the same services funding shortfalls that have to be subsidized by others living in unsubsidized housing, most of whom are struggling just to make ends meet.

    It seems a large part of the problem was alluded to in the February 14, 2018 Uprise RI post, “DARE fighting gentrification with rent control proposal” . I don’t want to link directly to that article because I want to link to the Providence Rules post linked to within the Uprise post which goes into a lot of detail about the TSAs:

    https://providencerules.wordpress.com/2017/08/23/death-spiral/

    McKenna mentions the fact that many so called “absentee landlords” are operating on very thin margins where added restrictions and burdens force them into the hands of buyers like Dez Properties which owns Providence Living, the entity that drove the Trottiers out of their home.

    It seems as though most of the proposals merely nibble around the edges of deeper structural economic problems, using a particularly unpopular segment of the larger capitalist economy as a scapegoat to satisfy those whose needs run much deeper than schadenfreude will ever provide.

    I don’t think any of the East Side candidates showed up, unless you consider the ward with the annexed downtown district as part of the East Side.

  2. from Le Monde/English, I’ll lead off with the end of #10 from Guilly/ Noyé’s “Process of Gentrification”:

    >>>“the world of architecture and photography, of the cinema and the theatre” (10) are the first to benefit from the proximity of service industries, high-speed rail links and other facilities to renovated areas. The involvement of those who work in the performing arts in the process of urban transformation helps explain the weakness of the opposition.”<<<

    Guilly/ Noyé's "Process of Gentrification" en todo:

    "Two geographers, Christophe Guilluy and Christophe Noyé, break down the process of successful gentrification as follows: “1: Self-employed workers are displaced by employees; the pioneers arrive — artists, students and alternative squats. 2: The neighbourhood’s status increases with the development of cultural facilities: trendy bars, art galleries and performance spaces. 3: Senior executives come in, hastening the departure of the self-employed and displacing the employed workers. 4: As the number of senior executives increases rapidly, the working-class population collapses and the pioneers are evicted. 5: Property developers move in and carry out urban regeneration: pedestrian precincts, gardens, cycle paths” (6).

    Working class neighbourhoods become middle-class (7) and develop, as the sociologist Jacques Donzelot said, “a lifestyle that encourages the arrival of ethnic cafes and restaurants”, concert halls and galleries selling exotic art, all “symbols of prestige that developers have learned to encourage in order to bestow upon certain areas the global brand that will attract those aspiring to membership of this global community” (8). According to the historian Alèssi Dell’Umbria, this in turn helps create a fun image of a city: “As services and service-providers drive out manual work and workers, culture and tourism gradually take over and the town centre becomes a particular kind of commercial zone dedicated to the amusement of the middle classes, for whom restaurants, trendy bars and exhibitions mark it out as friendly territory” (9).

    Culture, with its prevailing mythology of cosmopolitan commitment, provides an alibi. There is a risk that the glorification of its shrines may hinder the implantation of a new theatre or library, although the new Paris opera house and the Vieille Charité museum in Marseille actually acted as spearheads for the property industry’s reconquest of the Bastille and Panier neighbourhoods. The culture mythology usually serves to hide the social forces at work, disguising financial ambitions beneath an attractive mask.

    The holders of financial capital are not the only people who profit materially from these renovations; holders of intellectual capital such as university degrees do very nicely too. Cultural players from “the world of architecture and photography, of the cinema and the theatre” (10) are the first to benefit from the proximity of service industries, high-speed rail links and other facilities to renovated areas. The involvement of those who work in the performing arts in the process of urban transformation helps explain the weakness of the opposition."

    https://mondediplo.com/2007/02/10marseille

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