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4/11/2024 Six pieces of Speaker Shekarchi’s housing legislation passed by House
STATE HOUSE – Six bills from House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi’s 2024 package of housing legislation have been passed by the House this week, including three sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, which were passed today.

The bills are part of a 15-bill package of legislation regarding housing issues that Shekarchi announced in March, his fourth comprehensive suite of housing bills since becoming Speaker in 2021, and they continue his efforts to address Rhode Island’s housing crisis and expand upon initiatives outlined in his previous legislative packages. Thus far, seven of the bills in the package have been passed by the House.

“I want Rhode Island to be a state where families can have a good life and raise their children, where young people can live near their parents and hometowns, and where seniors can age in place with dignity,” said Speaker Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick). “Unfortunately, Rhode Island does not have enough housing supply to keep up with demand. Too many years of being dead last in the country for new housing permits have caught up with us.

“Our housing and homelessness crisis has been decades in the making and will take a long-term, sustained effort to fix. Although we’ve already introduced and passed three packages of housing legislation – approximately 30 bills – we still have a great deal of work left,” continued Speaker Shekarchi. “I am committed to seeing this through until all Rhode Islanders have a good, safe home. I am thankful to everyone who has partnered with me to raise the dialogue and develop viable solutions to create more housing.”

Here are the bills passed today:
  • 2024-H 7980, sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, allows, by right, manufactured homes constructed in accordance with HUD Regulations as an alternative option to stick-built homes where single- family housing is allowed.    
  • 2024-H 7979, sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, is enabling legislation to create a pilot program giving municipalities the authority to combine zoning and planning boards into one so long as the agenda reflects what authority an application is being heard under. This would allow a more expedited process or to allow municipalities who cannot get members to fill their boards to utilize one board for both. It does not impact local appointment of members.
  • 2024-H 7977, sponsored by Speaker Shekarchi, establishes an 11-member commission to study the ability of the RI educational system to offer degrees or certificates to provide a supply/pipeline of planners, planning technicians and staff, and report back to the General Assembly by January 1, 2025. Its purpose is to address a shortage of planning professionals in the state and the lack of a local educational program to establish a pipeline for these jobs.
On Tuesday, the House passed the following bills:
  • 2024-H 7948, sponsored by Representative Joseph J. Solomon, Jr. (D-Dist. 22, Warwick), provides amendments to the requirements of the inclusionary zoning law for affordable housing development to incorporate feedback from the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Planning Association. Inclusionary zoning is an optional tool for municipalities to require the provision of affordable units in conjunction with the development of market rate units. This legislation does not alter municipal approval requirements.
  • 2024-H 7950, sponsored by Representative Leonela Felix (D-Dist. 61, Pawtucket), requires cities/towns to allow up to three disclosed options on the types of financial security (such as surety bonds, letters of credit, cash) to be provided by developers on projects that include public improvements. Allowing varying types of financial options ensures that developers can choose the method that best suits their circumstances, which encourages development. Municipalities would not be able to limit the bond to one specific type, but still retain their ability to require bonds and improvement guarantees for public improvements.
  • 2024-H 7949Aaa, sponsored by Representative Robert E. Craven, Sr. (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown), makes amendments and clarifications to various provisions relative to subdivision of land review, review stages, special provisions related to development, and the procedures for approvals from various permitting authorities. It is based upon feedback from municipalities and the RI American Planners Association.
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.

For more information, contact:
Emily Martineau, Deputy Director of Communications for the Office of the Speaker
State House Room 323
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-2466