WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The pandemic continues to cause unforeseen circumstances across the United States, and here in Rhode Island, it’s played a big role in the ongoing housing shortage.
“We’ve had a housing crisis,” said Ted Reidy, chair of the R.I. Association of Realtors’ Government Affairs Committee.
“The most critical part here is housing availability,” he continued. “There just aren’t numbers. The number of listings in the state of Rhode Island is at an all-time low.”
That increased demand has made it nearly impossible to find affordable housing. In January 2020, the average price of a home in Rhode Island was $296,000. Fast forward a year and a half and that number has ballooned to $365,000, which is an all-time high, according to the R.I. Association of Realtors.
“The income requirements and surge in prices is incredible,” Reidy said. “Those with moderate incomes, it really has pushed them out of the market to a large extent. You’re not seeing homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. They’re more in the $300,000 range.”
Not only is the shortage pushing out potential homebuyers, but Reidy said it could have an impact on bringing businesses to Rhode Island as well.
“You do find that a lot of companies, when they relocate, people want to know the availability of housing,” added Reidy, who has a law practice that focuses on real estate closings. “It really tends to have a great economic adverse effect on this state when there is no housing availability.”
While the lack of inventory isn’t an issue that can be fixed overnight, Reidy believes there are ways to create affordable housing options.
“Certainly to make more affordable housing, to ease restrictions, to look at land-use zoning, those types of things, to hopefully allow for more greater opportunities for builders,” Reidy explained.
One example of affordable housing that Reidy believes could be used in Rhode Island is the use of “tiny homes.”
“I think that it is time, particularly in Rhode Island, where those have to be looked at,” he said. “It’s not to preempt the involvement of cities and towns in terms of regulating these, but certainly to make them another option that’s going to be available in a number of cities and towns.”