AP News

RI rental costs remain high, foreclosures down

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Housing costs continue to be a burden for Rhode Island renters, but fewer homeowners are facing foreclosure this year, a report released Friday by a coalition of housing organizations says.

HousingWorks RI found that 56 percent of renter households in the state earn less than $35,000 annually, though an annual income of at least $46,000 is needed to afford housing. That $10,000 gap affects more than 90,000 households.

"That to us is shocking," said Nellie Gorbea, executive director of HousingWorks, which includes nearly 140 organizations that promote affordable housing.

The report also found that foreclosures dropped to 896 in the first six months of 2012 from 1,128 in the same period last year.

On another measure of housing affordability, the report says, only six of Rhode Island's 39 municipalities meet the state standard that at least 10 percent of the housing stock qualify as "long-term affordable." Cranston, North Providence, Pawtucket, Warwick, and West Warwick are exempt from the mandate because of their volume of rental units.

Housing is generally considered affordable if the housing cost does not account for more than 30 percent of the household's income.

On Nov. 6, state voters will consider a $25 million housing bond. Gorbea said the bond would fund about 600 homes, likely a mix of rehabilitated properties and new construction. The last housing bond funded construction of some 1,300 homes.

"This is a public policy that works," Gorbea said. "The previous investment that we made was well-used, has had a positive effect, and we need to continue to look at housing as part of the infrastructure of your state."

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