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From Playgrounds to Workforce Development, RIHousing Creates Opportunities to Transform Neighborhoods

Published on November 30, 2017 by Rhode Island Housing
From Playgrounds to Workforce Development, RIHousing Creates Opportunities to Transform Neighborhoods

$3.8 million in Acquisition and Revitalization Program Funding to Create Homes, Community Space

PROVIDENCE, RI — RIHousing’s Board of Commissioners today approved funding awards totaling approximately $3.8 million to revitalize neighborhoods in Providence, Woonsocket, Central Falls, and Smithfield.

”Within a year of the passage of Rhode Island’s Housing Opportunity Bond, we are putting that funding to work,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. ”As we work to grow our state’s economy and create jobs, these awards are smart investments that will revitalize communities and spur growth.”

The awards will fund a total of 46 residential homes, 58 live-work units*, 27,756 square feet of new commercial space, a park, and playground. The funding is allocated via the state Acquisition and Revitalization Program (”ARP”).

”Playgrounds and parks play an essential role in supporting quality of life in our neighborhoods,”; said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. ”This funding will provide us a unique opportunity to address vacant properties in the Bailey Elementary School area while improving access to green space and physical activity in our neighborhoods.”

”The City of Central Falls is thrilled that Rhode Island Housing has provided the last piece of funding for our Dexter Adult Learning and Workforce Development Hub,” said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa. ”This project will transform a vacant and blighted building into a regional center of academic excellence for adult learners and provide training for the Blackstone Valley workforce of the future. Thanks to Rhode Island Housing and Rhode Island College, this partnership will bring thousands of students, teachers, and administrators to a revitalized Dexter Street, further activating an important commercial corridor in the Blackstone Valley and leveraging over $3 million in public and private funding for a comprehensive overhaul of Dexter Street.”

”This project will be a powerful and transformative moment in the Central Falls comeback story,” concluded Mayor Diossa.

On November 8, 2016, Rhode Island voters passed a state bond referendum authorizing the issuance of a $50 million Housing Opportunity Bond, $10 million of which was earmarked for Urban Revitalization and Blight Remediation. Voters authorized the state, through the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation (”Commerce RI”), to use these funds to develop and implement a program for the improvement of properties that are blighted or in need of revitalization. That program is known formally as the Acquisition and Revitalization Program (”ARP”). RIHousing was tasked by Commerce RI to administer ARP.

The developments awarded funding are:

  • Bailey Baxter Playspace Project, sponsored by the City of Providence in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, will redevelop vacant and blighted properties on Baxter Street and Norwich Avenue in South Providence into a playground for Bailey Elementary School. The project also includes improvements to adjacent Baxter Park.
  • The Dexter Adult Learning and Workforce Development Hub, sponsored by the City of Central Falls in collaboration with Rhode Island College, will convert a vacant building at 934 Dexter Street (formerly the Dexter Credit Union) into an academic space offering continuing education, workforce development, professional development, personal enrichment and community programming.
  • Georgiaville Village Green, sponsored by The Coventry Housing Associates Corporation and Gemini Housing Corporation, will develop 42 apartments.
  • The Millrace District Creative Placemaking Initiative, sponsored by NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, will redevelop three vacant mills located at 15 Island Place and 68 South Main Street in Woonsocket into 58 live-work units and six commercial business units. ARP funds will be used for the commercial portion only.
  • 136 Rugby Street and 44 Lillian Avenue, Providence, sponsored by SWAP, Inc., will develop two-family homes on two currently vacant lots. The homes will each consist of a three-bedroom homeownership unit and a two-bedroom rental unit.


”The investments announced today will do much more than just create homes — they will create opportunities for the people who live in these neighborhoods,” said Barbara Fields, Executive Director of RIHousing. ”I am very excited that these developments will have a profound impact on the surrounding communities: from a playground for children to continuing education and workforce development for adults, there are a myriad of possibilities offered by the developments funded.”

ARP’s purpose is to stabilize neighborhoods and communities by strategically targeting foreclosed and/or blighted properties and vacant lots in need of redevelopment. ARP funding is available statewide, but 75% of the funding is set aside for urban communities. The income of households that will occupy the redeveloped properties is limited to 120% of Area Median Income ($69,200 for a two-person household). In addition, ARP prioritizes the redevelopment of properties located in low- and moderate-income census tracts.

”The ARP funds will enable SWAP to continue its long history of developing affordable homes for sales and apartments for rent on the SouthSide,” said Carla DeStefano, Executive Director of SWAP, Inc.

* ARP funds will be used for the commercial portion only.

About RI Housing
Together with its partners, RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing uses its resources to provide low-interest loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations.

Media Contacts:
Emily Martineau
(401) 450-1309

Kevin Tente
(401) 831-1200