As the Island municipalities, their economies, and demographics continue to evolve, addressing challenges and opportunities in housing will determine whether Aquidneck Island remains an economically sustainable community and great place to live.
Last spring, the AIPC endeavored to start a continuing conversation about housing on Aquidneck Island.
Partnered with HousingWorks RI, Connect Greater Newport, and Fourth Economy, we hosted the Smart Island Housing Forum: Envisioning the Housing Future for Aquidneck Island in March 2019. The event brought together residents, employers, senior citizens, non-profits, municipalities, builders, planners, elected officials, and others to build a common vision for a housing future for our community.
The findings from that forum have been released and the full report is available for download on our website. We look forward to continuing the conversation this year. Check back soon for a save the date for this year’s event!
Break Out Session Results
The 2019 forum conducted moderated break-out sessions to garner input from the broad range of participants and stakeholders present. The top action items of the five groups included:
- Permitting higher densities in appropriate places
- Working with employers to raise awareness of housing issues
- Providing incentives to stimulate the types of housing development needed
- Relating housing needs to individuals; i.e., put a face on the issue
- Making connections between systems – housing, education, transportation, economy, etc. – to show how they impact each other
- Developing an educational campaign to raise public awareness of housing issues
- Identifying infrastructure areas suitable for intense development
- A communications campaign to educate and motivate the grass-roots citizenry
- Addressing short-term rentals through zoning and other mechanisms
- Attracting more funding through RI Housing and HUD
- Streamlining Section 8 rental protocols
- Removing stigmas and community concerns related to ‘affordable housing’
- Developing a land bank
- Pooling of resources across organizational lines
A number of conclusions and next steps emanated from the participants at the Smart Island Housing Forum. Most centrally, participants stressed the need for concrete actions, a path forward, and further dialogue on housing issues. To this end:
- The AIPC will continue to develop and host an annual Aquidneck Island Housing Forum, to review progress on housing issues, promote concrete regional actions, and bring together the Island community.
- The AIPC, with its partners, participants in the Housing Forum and other resources, will lead the drafting of an ‘Aquidneck Island Housing Action Plan’ to forward the Island’s progress on addressing its housing needs.
- The AIPC will seek resources to support further policy and programmatic development related to housing on Aquidneck Island.
The AIPC would like to express its gratitude to all the participants and supporters that made the 2019 Smart Island Housing Forum a success, and it looks forward to engaging an expanded audience at the 2nd Annual Smart Island Housing Forum in Spring 2020.
HousingWorks RI, Connect Greater Newport, and Fourth Economy participated in the event steering committee, helped craft the event agenda and provided their valuable expertise and hard work to make the Forum so successful.
Thank you to the insight and input of our moderators, panelists, and facilitators, who were integral to the event’s success.
The Forum would not have been possible without the support of its sponsors: Bank Newport, Discover Newport, Newport County Contractors’ Association, AARP Rhode Island, Salve Regina University, Community College of Rhode Island, and Empire Tea & Coffee
Most importantly, the AIPC thanks all the citizens and municipal representatives who participated in the Forum and in the crafting of our shared housing future.