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6/24/2022 Assembly approves Rep. Baginski and Sen. Quezada’s legislation allowing vacant schools to be repurposed as affordable housing
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Jacquelyn Baginski (D-Dist. 17, Cranston) and Sen. Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence) which would allow the repurposing of vacant schools for affordable housing.

“The significant lack of affordable housing in our state is an issue that negatively affects thousands of Rhode Islanders and it is a problem that has far reaching consequences for every aspect of our society.  This bill will serve as an innovative solution to address a portion of this troubling crisis by not only providing extremely-needed affordable housing, but also by enhancing our neighborhoods and communities by refurbishing and repurposing vacant and unsightly schools,” said Representative Baginski.

“Vacant and abandoned schools drag our communities down and pose possible risks of increasing crime and vandalism. With our state experiencing an affordable housing crisis, this legislation could possibly tackle both of these serious problems at the same time.  I cannot think of a better way to revitalize our communities than by turning these unattractive vacant properties into homes for children, families and individuals in need of safe, secure and stable housing,” said Senator Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence).

The legislation (2022-H 7943A, 2022-S 3048) establishes the repurposing of vacant schools for an affordable housing program, which shall be administered by the Rhode Island Secretary of Housing.

It requires the Rhode Island Department of Education to provide a list of all vacant and unused schools.  The Secretary of Housing shall conduct an assessment in conjunction with a task force comprised of the Rhode Island Housing Resources and Mortgage Finance Corporation, the Department of Environmental Management, the Department of Health, a fire marshal, the local building inspector, and the local planning office, any potential conversion.

Once a building is determined to be appropriate for conversion, Rhode Island Housing shall invite prospective developers to bid on the repurposing.

The legislation is part of House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s (D-Dist. 23, Warwick) legislative package that aims to streamline development, provide more complete and timely information about housing and help municipalities meet their affordable housing goals.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903