Date of Award

1996

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning

First Advisor

Howard H. Foster, Jr.

Abstract

During the 1980s two goals became major components of community development policy: preservation of land for open space, and construction of low-income housing. Rhode Island as well as other states adopted a legislation to facilitate expansion of low-income housing. Unfortunately, this concern has been in conflict with open space preservation programs because preservation of land for open space can reduce the supply of land available for housing.

The "American Dream" of every family begins with a comfortable domicile in a safe neighborhood, and reasonable close to employment. But this dream has often been beyond reach because of many government regulations and environmental controls. Also the high cost of construction and land has elevated the cost of housing. Many families are without sufficient financial resources to buy their own house due to financial barriers.

Barriers to affordable housing include zoning, closing costs, construction codes, and the lengthy approval process for the projects. Other barriers are the control of land such as local ordinances, subdivision regulations, state statutes, environmental regulations, and local and state historical regulations.

In 1991 the State of Rhode Island enacted the Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Law, which carries various provisions leading to the production of low cost housing. There is reference to this law in Chapter IV of this study and its progress in the last five years, since its inception.

For example, during the 1980's the state government of Rhode Island had produced approximately 8,055 units for low income families; in the 1990 1 s production rose to 9,168. This was an increase of 1.3 percent over ten years. After the inception of this law, for the year of 1995 production rose to 13,095 units, a growth of four percent, projecting for the future an increase of seven percent of units produced over a period of four years. In the production of units for the elderly, for the year 1980 the State of Rhode Island had an inventory of 14,386 units. In 1990 there were 18,644 units produced, an increase of 425 units. In 1995, after approval of the law, there were 18,706 units which was an increase of

62 more units or an eight per cent increase. The total number of family units in 1980 was 22,441. In 1990 there was a total of 27,812 units, an annual increase of 537 units. After the approval of the law, the total units was 31,801, a rise of 798 units, or a difference of almost three per cent. The push for low cost housing production is quite visible, which has been reinforced by the new law.

This study contains a synopsis of the problems that low cost housing has had in past years in the State of Rhode Island, a review of a court case from the State of New Jersey, and the law in the State of Rhode Island that was adopted in 1991, and the impact it has had in the last five years. Also, four Rhode Island housing cases under the 1991 Law are reviewed. The conclusion of this study includes facts found and recommendations.

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