PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee and newly appointed Housing Secretary Stefan Pryor gave an update Tuesday on efforts to create more housing in the state.
They did so while touring King Street Commons, a 62-unit affordable housing development in the Olneyville section of Providence. McKee and Pryor said they visited some of the homes and met with residents alongside ONE Neighborhood Builders President and Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins.
The goal, according to McKee, was to highlight the work being done not only there, but across the state over the next several years. The governor said he’s in the process of meeting with municipal leaders and housing is top of mind for them.
“I don’t believe there’s a community in the state of Rhode Island that does not want to do its part in terms of expanding its housing opportunities in the state,” McKee said.
For Pryor, it’s his first full week on the job after taking over for Josh Saal, who resigned last month amid heavy criticism. Pryor said that while there are enormous challenges ahead, this is a moment of opportunity for the state.
“Obviously, we didn’t wish for the challenges that the state faces on the housing front, but it has produced that mandate and we must seize the moment,” he said.
Watch the full news conference (story continues below)
Pryor said housing has long been under-funded in Rhode Island. But now, resources are being dedicated to the tune of a quarter-billion dollars.
“That’s a lot of money. It’s also not sufficient,” Pryor added.
Pryor said his focus will be on housing protection and affordability, along with creating a coherent system within the housing department and addressing the homelessness crisis. He said that while work has been done to expand shelters and open warming centers, it’s not enough.
“Rhode Island is united with the conviction that we do more to produce housing at every income level, and that in doing so, we protect the vulnerable including individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness,” he said.