Housing News

What to Do With This Rhode Island Village

Low-cost housing is up for auction

Twenty-two houses in Medina Village, one of the poorest communities in West End are going up for auction amidst a very controversial issue that the village is currently facing. According to the exclusive report by The Providence Journal, “The sale comes as the federally subsidized Section 8 rental properties — representing 83 units of housing — continue to decline and the current owners have failed to make mortgage payments to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which foreclosed on the complex in 2009… If the houses are not sold at the foreclosure sale, as housing officials expect, Rhode Island Housing has agreed to take control of the sites for a nominal $1 purchase price, with the purpose of keeping the apartments as subsidized, affordable housing, according to HUD spokeswoman Rhonda Siciliano. The state housing agency would then find a developer to make the necessary repairs, which HUD estimates to cost more than $11 million, says RI Housing spokeswoman Kristine Allard.”

The Housing and Urban Development (HUD) may have its good intentions for the residents of Medina Village but it certainly doesn’t make sense to spend $11 million for repairs alone. First, the tenants weren’t able to maintain the place properly so there’s no assurance that they’d be keeping it in good condition for the next ten years, not even five at that. I don’t mean to degrade anyone but it’s common for subsidized housing to fall into disrepair when its residents are taking advantage too much of the situation that they’re in.

Second, there’s no way that commercial investments will start pouring in once the redevelopment is completed. In the same report, City Councilman Leon F. Tejada says, “We’re trying to improve the conditions in that area. A lot of new businesses are coming to Cranston Street, but a lot of others don’t want to come there because they don’t want to be next to these abandoned properties.”

Abandoned or not, the community itself seems to drive off businesses in the area. There’s no point in rehabilitating it then for $11 million.

I’ve got two suggestions. First, when the properties don’t get auctioned off, the HUD must build environment-friendly homes that are not only cost-effective, they’re more durable as well. This can begin a wave of new nature-friendly residential constructions in the entire city.

Second, the HUD must conduct regular inspections on the houses to regulate its inhabitants. If they violate rules, they must face consequences like getting evicted in order to maintain the quality of the homes.

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