Tiara Mack is a state senator who represents District 6 where the Superman Building is located. Jackie Goldman is a public health researcher and a candidate for City Council Ward 5 in Providence. 

On April 12, Gov. Dan McKee unveiled a plan to redevelop the Superman Building to build a mixture of market rate and “affordable” housing. Ten percent of units will be for people who make $72,650 a year, 5% will be for people who make $60,550 a year and 5% will be for people who make $48,450 a year. But when the average household income in Providence is $49,065 a year, we have to ask the question of who is being served by this development.

High Rock Development, the developers of this project, have the most to gain from this deal. They will be getting millions of dollars of direct payment from the city, state and federal government, as well as a 30-year tax break from the City of Providence. We find it hard to understand why we would use money earmarked for building affordable housing, and short-change Providence of essential revenue while doing close to nothing to change the fact that thousands are unstably housed or facing eviction.

In the October 2020 release of the Providence Redevelopment Agency bond funding, it was stated that it would “mandate that all rental units recreated through this program be rented at 80 percent of less than then area median income (AMI) and no more than 120 percent of the AMI for multi-family homes.” The project as it stands does not meet the definition to receive these funds, yet the project is slated to get bond funding.

It is also not lost on us that this was a backroom deal made without consulting Providence leaders for input. The old habit of well-connected developers and power-hoarding state leaders striking deals that ultimately harm taxpayers by shifting the cost burden of half baked housing solutions to them and their neighbors has got to end. If we want housing solutions, we have to bring everyone to the table and address the needs of the low-income Rhode Islanders who will not be served if we prioritize corporate greed and out of town politicians. We cannot afford to give tax breaks to big developers, especially if the people of Providence are getting very little in return. 

The finances of Providence are already precarious. The city is facing a nearly $1-billion deficit in the pension system. The school infrastructure is crumbling. Landlords and homeowners are struggling to keep rent costs down and make ends meet. We have a patchwork of social services in our city because we can’t consistently fund them. This is due in part by the fact that 40% of the property in the city is tax exempt and we cannot afford to add another financial burden to the city that will have trickle down effects for decades. 

Providence should be pulling out all of the stops to make sure that housing is built for the people who need it most, including using federal tax credits to urgently build housing for the people making 40-60% AMI and lower. We cannot afford to strike deals with private developers like High Rock who want to fill their pockets with our taxpayer dollars. We are not going to fix our housing crisis if we continue to make deals behind closed doors and shut out the voices of those on the ground working to fix the housing crisis that has gone unaddressed by Rhode Island politicians for too long. 

Source Google News – Read the original article

Opinion/Mack and Goldman: Money for affordable housing should not go to Superman Building – The Providence Journal

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