In 2015, Mayor Jorge Elorza created the EveryHome initiative in an effort to revitalize and fill every abandoned home in the City of Providence. Since its inception, the City is utilizing a suite of tools to bring the City’s vacant and abandoned residential properties back into productive use. As the suite of tools evolves to best fit resident’s needs, EveryHome works to protect, restore and renew Providence’s neighborhoods.
There are several tools to bring the City’s vacant homes back into productive use. Some of the most effective tools include policy changes in Code Enforcement through the City’s Department of Inspections and standards, strengthened housing prosecution through the Law Department, a targeted city-petitioned receivership program, and the recent passage of the Providence Redevelopment Agency’s Special Redevelopment Plan for Vacant Homes. There are also a number of preventative tools being utilized such as financial assistance for homeowners for critical home repairs, lead remediation and down-payments for owner-occupied purchases.
EveryHome is an initiative that targets vacant and abandoned properties. In addition to this work, the City continues to support affordable housing development through its annual allocation of HUD funding. In the past two years, funds have been allocated to the following initiatives:
– Home Repair Funds
– Down Payment & Closing Cost Assistance
– Rehabilitation for Resale or Rental
– New Construction
– Affordable Housing Modernization
The City has invested $4.44 million into supporting safe, affordable housing opportunities in our neighborhoods since 2015.
Starting early last year, a field inspector from the Department of Inspections and Standards has been identifying vacant and abandoned properties in each neighborhood in the city. To date, that inspector has identified over 700 properties that were vacant at some point since January 2016. Use the heat mapping tool to see where these homes are located in Providence.
The Special Redevelopment Plan for Vacant Houses is a document adopted by a the Providence City Council and the Providence Redevelopment Agency (PRA) that identifies blighted conditions that are unlikely to be rectified through the private market. It will be used to facilitate the rehabilitation of hundreds of vacant and likely abandoned houses throughout the City of Providence. It authorizes the PRA to acquire these blighted properties and identify developers who will return them to productive use; thereby increasing the City’s housing stock and improving conditions in Providence neighborhoods. This plan will be used as a last resort to address the worst cases of blight and abandonment.
The PRA cannot itself rehabilitate property. It must turn the property over to others for redevelopment. The PRA will issue Requests for Proposals (RFPs) through a competitive bidding process for qualified individuals and entities to redevelop the property. The bidding process will be open to all members of the general public. It is anticipated that properties will be grouped together and several different parties will ultimately engage in redevelopment activity. The RFPs will establish scoring criteria such as local hiring and the creation of affordable housing in the evaluation and selection of developers.
The cost of each property will be established by the PRA, in conjunction with the City of Providence, and will use all of the resources available to assign each property a “fair value” in accordance with State law applicable to the PRA.
The bidding process for the properties included in the Special Redevelopment Plan for Vacant Homes will be open to the general public. Regardless whether or not you are a developer/contractor or a general home buyer, your ability to meet the criteria expressly stated in the public bidding process will determine whether or not you will be successful in bidding on the properties.
Section thirteen (13) of the Special Redevelopment Plan requires that all responsive bidders identify and explain how they will comply with the laws and policies put in place regarding the hiring of local and qualified developers/contractors.
The City does not currently own any of the properties, and there is no waiting list to buy properties. Requests for Proposals (RFPs) will be sent out by the PRA in accordance with existing City protocols for the distribution of RFPS.
The PRA’s criteria in the bidding process will give priority to mixed-income development plans. The priority’s goal, in accordance with Section 13 of the Special Redevelopment Plan, is to increase income diversity in Providence neighborhoods. Properties rehabbed by state or federal public subsidy will be subject to resale requirements based on owner or tenant income.
Upon transfer by deed from the PRA, the successful purchaser will have nine (9) to twelve (12) months to complete the properties purchased depending on the number of properties purchased.
The Providence Redevelopment Agency will have a website up and running early in 2018 which will contain all information related to the Special Redevelopment Plan. For more general information and updates regarding EveryHome, please visit the PRA website at HERE.
There are vacant properties in the City of Providence that are not on the Special Redevelopment Plan. The Plan is an evolving document and properties listed need to meet specific redevelopment criteria. Those properties will be addressed by the City of Providence and the PRA using any number of other tools and processes that both entities are currently employing to rehabilitate vacant properties.
The City hosted a team of nationally recognized neighborhood revitalization experts from Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. (NPI) and the University of Memphis School of Law. The goal was to further the City’s efforts in rehabilitating vacant and abandoned properties. The consultants helped explore cross-sector collaboration, gather feedback, and open a dialog about vacant and abandoned housing in the City. The consultants led a broad Community Conversation and held focus groups with local and state officials, nonprofits, civic organizations, local institutions, university and business leaders and neighborhood groups. In the coming months, the consultants will deliver a report that will include observations, insights, and recommendations of how best to move forward. The visit was not a formal evaluation or assessment but rather another tool for the EveryHome initiative.
City officials presented information and metrics on the EveryHome program at the Community Conversation. The metrics included 218 “success properties,” meaning properties that were once vacant but are now occupied and have no housing code violations. It is important to understand that the City did not own any of these properties at any point throughout the process. Instead, various tools were used that do not require ownership (policy changes, receivership, and housing court). Additionally, a large portion of the successes happened organically due to the reaction to changes in practices and policies implemented by the City, in conjunction with favorable market trends. The metrics presented are a snapshot in time and are very fluid due to the nature of what they represent. Some properties are no longer included on that list because they have been listed for sale or are pending closings.