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Governor McKee Joined by Lt. Governor Matos, U.S. Senator Reed, Speaker Shekarchi Highlights Historic $250 Million Investment in Housing

RHODE ISLAND, August 11 - WARWICK, RI – Governor Dan McKee, joined Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal, and additional state leaders at the Meadowbrook Terrace housing community in Warwick, today to celebrated the state's historic investment in housing, and officially sign two pieces of legislation that will help Rhode Island address inequities in access to high-quality, affordable housing.

"In my State of the State Address, I proposed that we invest a quarter billion dollars into our state's housing stock to tackle our state's housing crisis head on," said Governor McKee. "Thanks to a collaborative partnership with the Speaker, Senate President and the General Assembly, we are now executing on that proposal. This historic investment will not only create and preserve thousands of units of housing but it will also transform blighted properties, strengthen communities and create good-paying construction jobs in the process. Thank you to all who have gotten us to today — now let's get to work building this housing."

"We've got to increase the supply of homes that people can afford. I worked to make this federal funding available and successfully pressed Treasury to ensure it can be used where it's most needed. The state is targeting these funds to areas of need and filling-in gaps in affordable housing financing to advance more construction and hopefully more residents can move in to quality homes they can afford and thrive in," said Senator Reed, who helped make $350 billion in flexible funding available under ARPA's State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds that can be used for developing, repairing, and operating affordable-housing units and cosponsored the LIFELINE Act to improve how these funds may be used.

Thursday's event was held to highlight the $250 million investment in housing proposed by the McKee-Matos Administration and approved by the General Assembly. This once-in-a-generation funding stream allocates $155 million towards housing production; $30 million for down payment assistance to help prospective homebuyers struggling with rising prices; $25 million for community revitalization and home repairs; $36.5 million towards addressing homelessness; and $3.5 million to create a statewide housing plan and increase through a newly created Department of Housing.

This funding will support the McKee's administration's housing agenda by: - Creating new housing across income levels that supports population growth and encourages equitable growth. - Stabilizing households that are at risk of involuntary displacement and/or homelessness. - Promoting supportive and accessible housing that includes social services, including expanding options for seniors, persons with disabilities, and persons experiencing homelessness. - Improving the quality and safety of the existing housing stock.

"As we work to address the housing crisis that has been building in Rhode Island for the last decade, we have to act not only quickly but thoughtfully. These funds do both by creating new, high-quality housing units across the state and helping to revitalize the neighborhoods where we build them, ensuring that our communities can rise together," said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos. "I am proud to have advocated for this historic investment in creating housing and to have worked with Governor McKee, Secretary Saal, and our state legislature to implement it in our budget, and I am looking forward to continuing those efforts."

"Addressing Rhode Islanders' housing needs is one of my highest priorities. I am very grateful for the cooperative effort that has brought us here to highlight our $250 million investment in a range of efforts to improve the availability and affordability of housing. This funding will enable us to fulfill a wide range of goals, from creating desperately needed housing for the homeless to helping homebuyers with down payments. In addition, we passed 10 housing bills to address the housing crisis from a variety of angles, including my own bill to elevate the issue by establishing a state Housing Department," said Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-District 23, Warwick).

"In the past two years, we've made historic progress to address our state's housing crisis," said Senator Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Housing & Municipal Government. "We know, however, that housing insecurity remains an all-too-common reality for many in our communities. The historic $250 million investment made through this year's budget is game changing, while steps such as streamlining the process for building new homes and strengthening our approach to this issue at the state level will help change Rhode Island's long-term trajectory in terms of housing availability and affordability."

During Thursday's event, Governor McKee also signed into law H-7949, an act that will streamline the comprehensive permitting and appeals process in regard to low- and moderate-income housing, and add two additional voting members to the state housing appeals board. Governor McKee also signed H-7940, an act that officially establishes a statewide Department of Housing within the executive branch of state government, and creates the cabinet-level position of Secretary of Housing. With the enactment of this legislation, Josh Saal has been appointed as Rhode Island's first Secretary of Housing.

"I am honored to serve as the state's first officially designated Housing Secretary, and I look forward to working with Governor McKee, Speaker Shekarchi and other state leaders to continue the effort to create and sustain a long-term, collaborative, systemic approach to the planning, funding and development of high-quality housing for Rhode Islanders of all income levels," said Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal. "The historic, much-needed $250 million investment included in the FY23 budget will serve as a down payment on the future of the state's housing infrastructure. I am excited and optimistic about the opportunities ahead."

"I want to thank Governor McKee and state leadership for their tireless efforts to identify funding and strategies to meet the housing needs of our state," said Carol Ventura, Executive Director, Rhode Island Housing. "These federal funds represent an exciting opportunity to make the kinds of long-term and strategic investments in housing that will move Rhode Island forward. We look forward to working with the Governor and the General Assembly to put these resources to work expanding the supply of affordable and permanent supportive housing in the state."

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