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Housing Programs in Rhode Island

In Rhode Island, there are only two state-funded programs that provide the bulk of funding for the building and operation of affordable homes and apartments: Building Homes Rhode Island (BHRI) and the Neighborhood Opportunities Program (NOP). In addition, Housing First Rhode Island is a supportive housing program that provides services to help chronically homeless, and Thresholds assists in housing those with a persistent mental illness.

Here is an animated short describing long-term affordable housing in Rhode Island, along with the positive economic impact of these homes.




Building Homes Rhode Island

Building Homes Rhode Island is the state program created thanks to the majority of voters in 2006 that approved a $50 million bond to create affordable apartments and starter homes throughout the state. The state's Housing Resources Commission has awarded the full $50 million, creating 1,312 homes in 30 communities throughout the state.

Not only do these attractive and well-constructed units provide a quality home for someone to live in, but they also serve as a strong economic generator:

  • The $50 million of BHRI investments in Rhode Island have generated close to $800 million in total economic activity, multiplying nearly 16 times throughout our state’s economy.
  • In addition to offering a return of $16 per $1 invested, BHRI has also supported nearly 6,100 jobs in Rhode Island, generating about $300 million in wages, which workers use to purchase local goods and services and contribute to municipal and state economies.
  • 53% of the total estimated cost of residential construction permitted from 2007 to 2010 was for developments supported by the Building Homes Rhode Island program.

Our publications about Building Homes Rhode Island:

The Housing Bond: Year Four Status Report

The Housing Bond Year Three Status Report

Measuring the Economic Impact of Affordable Housing in Rhode Island

The Housing Bond: Year Two Status Report

The Housing Bond: One-Year Status Report

The $50 Million Housing Bond Passed: What Now?

Neighborhood Opportunities Program

The Neighborhood Opportunities Program is a unique, state-funded program that was designed to provide homes for low-wage working families and individuals with disabilities. The program provides funds to cover the difference between the rental cost affordable to very low-wage Rhode Islanders and the cost to owners of operating the rental units. Essentially, NOP funding allows rents to be set at a level that is both affordable for renters and sustainable for owners.

Over the past decade, NOP has played an instrumental role in growing the stock of affordable housing for those at the lowest end of the income ladder. Since its inception, NOP has contributed $44 million in gap funding for the development and operation of 1,188 units in 173 developments throughout 28 communities in Rhode Island. This investment has leveraged $418 million—almost $10 for every dollar invested by the State.

Our publications about the Neighborhood Opportunities Program:

Neighborhood Opportunities Program
Helping Low-Income Rhode Island Families Afford a Quality Home

Neighborhood Opportunities Program 


Housing First Rhode Island

The Housing First supportive housing program in the RI Office of Homelessness is a cost-effective solution to the problem of chronic homelessness in Rhode Island. The supportive housing approach provides rapid access to permanent supportive housing and services that help chronically homeless citizens live independent, stable, and productive lives.

In a study completed in 2008 experts found that in the year prior to entering Housing First, the program's participants spent a combined total of 534 nights in hospitals and 9,600 nights in homeless shelters - for an annual institutional cost of approximately $31,600 per client. By contrast, during the first year of the Housing First program, study participants reported a combined total of only 149 nights in hospitals and 640 nights in shelters - for an annual cost of homelessness of approximately $7,635 per client.

Including the cost of supportive services ($9,500 per person) and housing subsidies ($5,643 per person), the Housing First program costs the state $22,778 per client - or $8839 less than the institutional cost of homelessness.

Our publications about Housing First Rhode Island:

Homelessness in Rhode Island - Gains and Challenges 


Thresholds Program

Rhode Island Housing administers the Thresholds Program on behalf of the Rhode Island Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals (MHRH) using bond funds. The program increases the supply of housing for people with serious and persistent mental illness.

The program requires participating housing sponsors to make units affordable to this population in return for: 

1) funds to develop or refinance housing, and 
2) the promise of mental health and social services for these units’ occupants.