Rhode Island expert outlines worsening housing crisis

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — As rental rates rise across the state, Rhode Islanders now face harsh realities of a continued housing crisis, that shows no signs of ending soon.

The rising rental rates have driven families from their homes, like the Ringland’s of Barrington.

Their monthly rent went from $950 to $1,800 over the past two months.

Jack Ringland explained Thursday, “I’m thinking to myself, ‘Well, I guess Barbara could go up to New Hampshire and live with her mother, and they tell me I still have a right to get into the veteran’s home.’ That’ll make us 150 miles away from each other. That’s no way to spend the rest of our days.”

Brenda Clement, director of Housing Works Rhode Island, said the nearly doubling of monthly rental is legal.

She explained Tuesday, “Most tenants in Rhode Island are month-to-month tenants, and as such, are at risk of a landlord saying, ‘I’m doubling your rent and I’m terminating your residency with proper notification.’”

The National Low Income Housing Coalition released a report Thursday afternoon, saying Rhode Islanders now need to earn double the minimum wage to afford a modest, two-bedroom unit.

The report also revealed that the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Rhode Island is nearly 18% higher than a year ago.

Clement said they are still gathering the data from 2022, but she believes Rhode Islanders may have to earn triple the minimum wage to afford a modest, two-bedroom unit.

“You would need an income of $70,000 in order to afford,” said Clement. “They double up. They play the landlord game and couch surf. Or, they move in with individuals. They try to increase their hours. They live paycheck to paycheck.”

Clement said more housing options and continued projects are the solution.

“It’s going to take us two or three years, and that’s not even going to catch us up. It’s a good start, but it’s not going to be the end of solving the problem,” she concluded.

Clement urges tenants to keep open communication with their landlords, and continue to speak out publicly for more housing options in their communities.

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