When this city put together a plan for a 300-acre waterfront district, officials recognized that most of the 2,000 to 3,000 homes that were planned for the area would be unaffordable to moderate-income residents.
That led East Providence to require at least 10 percent of the multifamily homes going up along the waterfront to be affordable to families earning no more than 80 percent of the area median income.
The program, which was created in 2004, was recognized by the Governor’s Partners in Housing Award. East Providence is a mixed-income community, and part of that is a blue-collar workforce.
“It was important for people who live in the community to participate in the waterfront development,” said Jeanne Boyle, the city’s director of plan-ning and executive director of the waterfront commission.
A higher density of development is allowed along the waterfront, which should help with the developers’ bottom lines, according to city officials. Developers also have the option to build the affordable units off-site or make an in-lieu contribution.
Although much of the redevelopment is in the planning stages, a few projects are under way, including a 54-unit condominium development by Peregrine Group that will have six affordable units that sell for approximately $127,000 for a one-bedroom and about $145,000 for a two-bedroom unit. In comparison, a market-rate one-bedroom unit is fetching prices in the mid-$200,000 range, according to Colin Kane, a principal at Peregrine.
He said he supports the inclusionary housing requirement because moderate-income housing is much needed in the community.
The program, however, is still new to the area, so there remains a learning curve for many, according to Kane.
For example, many developers aren’t used to working with HOME funds or other subsidies that help make deals financially pencil out.