Johnston missing from Gov. McKee's RI affordable housing list


Some Ocean State communities have made affordable housing a priority.

Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee recently posted a list of the state’s municipalities, where, “right now, affordable housing is under construction. And we’re just getting started.”

The list, disseminated via Twitter, included 19 of the state’s 37 cities and towns. Johnston did not make the list.

The list included (in alphabetical order) Bristol, Coventry, Cranston, Cumberland, East Greenwich, East Providence, Exeter, Middletown, Newport, North Smithfield, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, South Kingstown, Tiverton, Warwick, Warren, West Warwick and Woonsocket.

“I can’t speak to the information used by the Governor to compile this list and what constitutes ‘affordable housing,’” explained Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena Jr. “The problem is many people are locked into pre-COVID, low interest rate mortgages and have little desire to give up their low rate and exchange it for a current 6% rate.”

Town officials have often stated that very little space for development remains untouched in Johnston. And the stock of available housing is limited by homeowners who don’t want to move.

“This means currently constructed homes won’t be on the market as frequently as they were before,” Polisena wrote via email. “Therefore, the only way to make single-family homes more affordable to prospective buyers looking to move, whether they are a first time home buyers or looking to downsize/size up is to increase the supply with new stock.”

Polisena has often argued against certain types of developments.

“Building low-income multi-family cluster units doesn’t accomplish that,” Polisena argues. “I support building more market rate, single-family homes in Johnston, if in the appropriate location. My administration has met with numerous developers who are interested in building single-family homes in Johnston. We will guide them through the appropriate processes and procedures to see if their developments meet current neighborhood standards.”

Polisena repeated his opposition to the type of residence construction many municipalities consider quintessential “affordable housing.”

“I do not support multi-family, low-income housing projects in Johnston,” Polisena reiterated.


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