R 400
2019 -- S 1005
Enacted 06/26/2019

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senator Frank Lombardo
Date Introduced: June 25, 2019

     WHEREAS, According to the Federal government, housing is recognized as affordable if
thirty percent or less of the household's yearly income is used on housing costs, and households
are considered "cost burdened" if more than thirty percent of their yearly income is used on
housing costs; and
     WHEREAS, Households are recognized as severely cost burdened when they spend more
than fifty percent of their yearly income on housing costs; and
     WHEREAS, The increase in the cost of housing and the scarcity of new housing has
caused more than one hundred and forty-five thousand households to be cost burdened in Rhode
Island; and
     WHEREAS, The one hundred and forty-five thousand households that are considered
cost burdened in Rhode Island represent thirty-five percent of all households in Rhode Island; and
     WHEREAS, Out of those one hundred and forty-five thousand households, forty-four
percent are severely cost burdened; and
     WHEREAS, Households that are cost burdened have greatly affected our state's
economy; and
     WHEREAS, In 2016, HousingWorksRI found that nearly one hundred and thirty-two
thousand households could have spent more than nine hundred and forty million dollars in the
economy, building equity in their homes, or affording daily necessities had they not been cost
burdened; and
     WHEREAS, If a household only earned a yearly income of fifty thousand dollars, there is
merely one municipality where it could affordably buy a median-priced home and only four
municipalities where it could affordably rent a two-bedroom apartment; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island State Law sets a goal that ten percent of every municipality's
housing units shall meet the guidelines of Low and Moderate Income Housing, but only six
municipalities meet this goal; and
     WHEREAS, The increase in low vacancy rates has decreased the number of days a house
or apartment is on the market, thereby increasing competition in the market and increasing sale
prices; and
     WHEREAS, From 2016 to 2017, Rhode Island's multifamily building permits decreased
by forty-four percent, while Boston and Connecticut saw drastic increases – such permits doubled
in Boston and increased by eighty-nine percent in Connecticut, according to the 2018 Housing
Facts Book by HousingWorksRI; and
     WHEREAS, Furthermore, in 2018, HousingWorksRI estimated that the projected need
for additional housing in Rhode Island by the year 2025 will range from 32,550 to 34,790
multifamily units and from 5,000 to 5,800 single-family homes; and
     WHEREAS, Research has shown that there are significant health and social benefits
when people are not constantly concerned about affordability and having to endure an unstable
living environment; and
     WHEREAS, Children are negatively impacted by not having a stable living environment;
for example, homeless children and youth have the highest rate of school absenteeism; and
     WHEREAS, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and other states have created task forces or
commissions to assess housing demands, address affordable housing concerns, and develop plans
to build housing units; now, therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That a special legislative commission on housing be and the same is hereby
created consisting of fifteen (15) members: three (3) of whom shall be members of the Rhode
Island Senate, not more than two (2) from the same political party, to be appointed by the
President of the Senate; and at least twelve (12) of whom shall have relevant experience in
housing, business, finance, development, real estate, education, advocacy, academic research, or
for-profit or nonprofit experience related to the goals of the commission, to be appointed by the
President of the Senate; and
     In lieu of any appointment of a member of the legislature to a permanent advisory
commission, a legislative study commission, or any commission created by a General Assembly
resolution, the appointing authority may appoint a member of the general public to serve in lieu
of a legislator, provided that the Senate President or the Minority Leader of the political party that
is entitled to the appointment consents to the appointment of the member of the general public.
     The purpose of said commission shall be to conduct a comprehensive review of Rhode
Island's housing system, evaluate concerns that may impede development, and make
recommendations to the Senate about ways to increase access to safe and affordable housing that
meets the needs of a wide range of incomes and improves housing opportunities within the state.
     Forthwith upon passage of this resolution, the members of the commission shall meet at
the call of the Chair of the commission, who shall be appointed by the President of the Senate.
     Vacancies in said commission shall be filled in like manner as the original appointment.
     A quorum of the commission shall consist of a majority of its membership, and the
membership of said commission shall receive no compensation for their services.
     The commission shall assemble no less than four (4) times, or more often at the call of
the Chair, upon written notice of each meeting stating the place, day, and time of the meeting,
along with the purpose and/or agenda of the meeting.
     All departments and agencies of the state shall furnish such advice and information,
documentary and otherwise, to said commission and its agents as is deemed necessary or
desirable by the commission to facilitate the purposes of this resolution.
     The Joint Committee on Legislative Services is hereby authorized and directed to provide
suitable quarters for said commission; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the commission shall report initial findings, recommendations, and
potential legislative proposals on or before January 31, 2020, and a final report containing
additional recommendations on or before October 16, 2020, to the President of the Senate, and
said commission shall expire on December 31, 2020.