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State of Rhode Island General Assembly
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Legislation to spur housing development signed into law
Five bills from Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi's housing package were ceremonially signed into law today at the site of a former public school in Warwick that is being converted into housing.
The bills – coupled with the historic investments made r in the FY23 and FY24 budgets – will help address the long-lagging housing production rates in Rhode Island, catalyze expanded housing supply, and mitigate upward pressure on rents and home purchase prices.
"This package fundamentally changes our state’s approach to the housing crisis, particularly for the moderate and affordable development we need most,“ said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “The bills will help cut through a great deal of the frustrating red tape that is standing in the way of the development of new housing. The legislative package will move housing forward for Rhode Islanders in all our communities who need and deserve safe and affordable homes.”
“Our state continues to face a housing emergency,” said Senator Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, Providence). “Too many individuals and families are unable to realize the dream of home ownership, and for those who are struggling, housing insecurity remains an all-too-common reality. This situation affects every community in Rhode Island. It disrupts lives, holds back our economy, and exacerbates longstanding inequality. Addressing this crisis requires innovative and urgent action, and I am grateful to all the partners who have made the important legislation being signed today possible.”
“This budget cycle and legislative session was a major step in the right direction for Rhode Island in terms of creating more affordable accessible housing for all,” said Gov. Daniel McKee. “I want to thank the General Assembly for their leadership and for recognizing the importance of continuing to meet the needs of the housing market here in the Ocean State.”
“The bills we are signing into law today won't just build houses — they'll strengthen communities. From prioritizing transit hubs in our development strategies to transforming underutilized commercial spaces into thriving homes, this legislative package will help to create a space for everyone in Rhode Island,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos.
The following bills were signed by Governor McKee:
sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi and Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence), this legislation amends Rhode Island’s Low and Moderate Income Housing Act. It streamlines the process of permitting from three steps to two steps, not including pre-application, to follow the purpose of the comprehensive permit process, and sets forth necessary submission items at each stage of the permitting process. The legislation retains current standards, but provides greater clarity for review of approvals and denials to make clearer standards for the review of applications.
sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi and Sen. Mark P. McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), creates a housing/land use court calendar.
sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) and Senate Majority Leader Ryan W. Pearson (D-Dist. 19, Cumberland, Lincoln), amends the subdivision and land development permits and processes. It provides clarity on which projects are in each category of application across the state, as well as the permitting process for each. The legislation does not change the process or permitting by municipalities.
sponsored by Special Legislation Committee Chairwoman Karen Alzate (D-Dist. 60, Pawtucket, Central Falls) and Senator Kallman, will allow, as a permitted use, the adaptive reuse of commercial structures (such as factories, hospitals, offices, malls, religious facilities, and schools) into high density residential developments. The legislation sets forth zoning incentives for development, including not requiring parking to be over one space per unit and minimum lot size per dwelling unit not to determine density. This bill does not take away the municipal review and permitting process for such developments.
sponsored by Rep. Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket) and Senator Kallman, creates a transit-oriented development pilot program to encourage growth centers along transit corridors identified by state transit plans. The application, award, and reporting process for the pilot program will be outlined via rules and regulations developed by the Secretary of Housing.
“The 13 bills advanced by legislative leaders and spearheaded by Speaker Shekarchi will help to make the development process at the local level more efficient and predictable,” said Secretary of Housing Stefan Pryor. “The legislation signed by Governor McKee today represents significant progress. With the implementation of this legislation, we will work to develop more housing at every income level and across our state.”
“We need every tool available to address Rhode Island’s serious housing shortage. This package of bills will go a long way toward removing barriers to housing development and streamlining the approval process. We are grateful to the leadership of Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio and Governor McKee for making housing a priority,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing.
Today's ceremony was held outside the former Aldrich Junior High School on Post Road in Warwick, which is soon to be converted into housing.
For more information, contact:
, Communications Director for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 322
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request