Courtesy of Newport Daily News

Aquidneck Island Planning Commission to host March 15 panel discussions addressing challenges facing milennials and baby boomers at CCRI Newport.

by Derek Gomes – March 1, 2019

NEWPORT — The next forum in Aquidneck Island Planning Commission’s Smart Island Series will focus on the challenges for meeting the housing needs of populations at different ends of the age spectrum — baby boomers as they reach retirement age and millennials as they enter the workforce.

The forum called “Envisioning the Housing Future for Aquidneck Island” will be held Friday, March 15, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Community College of Rhode Island Newport Campus’ auditorium.

The event will include three panel discussions: Aquidneck Island Housing Challenges, Municipal Housing Initiatives and Barriers and Opportunities for Addressing Housing Options. Panelists include municipal planners, housing advocates and representatives from Connect Greater Newport, the Rhode Island Builders Association and AARP. Sponsors for the event are CCRI, BankNewport, Discover Newport, the Newport County Contractors Association and AARP-RI.

“Housing is one of the most important issues facing Aquidneck Island today; whether it’s the availability of affordable workforce and family housing, challenges municipalities have with Airbnb’s and seasonal occupancy, or the ability for older residents to age in the community, the decisions we make on housing will determine the long-term sustainability and well-being of our communities,” John Shea, the planning commission’s executive director, said in a prepared statement.

Two “bubbles” are driving the housing market, said Annette Bourne, research and policy director of HousingWorks RI and one of the panelists. They include seniors who still live in the homes where they raised their families. Those homes might be too big for them, or worse, no longer accessible because certain rooms are located on upper floors, Bourne explained.

At the other end of the spectrum, many millennials are delaying home ownership because of economic pressures, such as being saddled with student loan debt, she told The Daily News.

“It’s great that we’re at a point when we can look at this and try to digest what the future holds,” said Brenda Clement, the director of HousingWorks RI and one of the moderators.

“The important thing is coming to bring some of the content knowledge and examples from other communities,” she said. “It really is the community who decides where growth happens, what the housing needs are. It’s very, very important to be involved and engaged in the solution in a positive way.”

After the three panel discussions, attendees will participate in breakout sessions. The forum is free to attend, but attendees must register online at Breakfast and lunch will be provided.