PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge Elorza and Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris hosted a community meeting at Providence Career and Technical School last night with a group of nationally recognized neighborhood revitalization experts from Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. (NPI), and the University of Memphis School of Law to collect feedback from community members on a collaborative, cross-sector approach to revitalize vacant and abandoned properties. City officials joined the conversation by providing an update on EveryHome, a program aimed toward rehabilitating and filling vacant and abandoned homes in Providence.
“Vacant and abandoned properties are hurting our neighborhoods and community,” said Elorza. “We have made significant progress towards our goal of renovating and filling these homes with low- and middle-income families and are engaging with stakeholders in an effort to make our city stronger.”
With the support of the Providence City Solicitor’s Office, members of NPI, a nonprofit based in Memphis, Tennessee, met with local and state officials, nonprofits, civic organizations, local institutions, university and business leaders and neighborhood groups during their visit to Providence to discuss best practices, collaborative efforts and issues specific to Providence.
“Last Thursday the City Council passed the Special Redevelopment Plan for Vacant Homes, which will allow the Providence Redevelopment Agency to continue its work of taking vacant homes and making them homes for those that most need it,” stated Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris, Ward 11. “I was thrilled to see the turnout amongst the stakeholders from my Ward at the community conversation with Mayor Elorza. Myself, along with my colleagues on the City Council believe that this program is essential to making our neighborhoods safe and stronger for all.”
Later this year, the NPI team will deliver a report that will include observations, insights and recommendations on how to proceed. This is not a formal evaluation or assessment.
“The first step in changing how a city addresses vacant properties and blighted buildings is identifying what works and what needs improvement,” said Joseph Schilling, Senior Faculty for the Academy, Neighborhood Preservation, Inc. “This is our goal for this first visit to Providence—to better understand who is doing what and compare that with our knowledge of what works from other cities and then identify ways Providence might adapt these strategies and learn from its peers.”
As part of the meeting, the City provided an update on EveryHome, a program that was launched in 2015 as an effort to ultimately address, revitalize and fill every home in Providence while supporting the City’s strong and vibrant neighborhoods.
In addition to the original scope of the EveryHome program, the City has also implemented preventative new policies and tools through the Department of Inspection and Standards (DIS) and the City Solicitor’s Office along with financial assistance that have led to the rehabilitation of a number of properties. This past year, the City also drafted and passed a comprehensive redevelopment plan to address vacant and abandoned properties throughout the city, by authorizing the Providence Redevelopment Agency to assist in rehabilitating these properties.
Since its inception, EveryHome has identified a total of 747 properties as being vacant. Through the work of EveryHome, 209 of those properties are now occupied with no violations, with another 320 currently utilizing an EveryHome tool and in the process of remediation. Mayor Elorza is committed to finding a tool to return every vacant and abandoned property to productive use and is looking forward to NPI’s report to inform best practices and enhance next steps of the program.