Affordable Housing Committee
The Affordable Housing Committee is a five-member public body that reviews the Town’s Affordable Housing Plan and helps the Town Council determine affordable housing policy. The five members of the Committee are Richmond residents from a wide variety of professional backgrounds who volunteer their time. They are appointed by the Town Council to three-year terms. One member of the Committee is a Planning Board member chosen by the Planning Board for a one-year term.
Affordable Housing Committee meetings
The Affordable Housing Committee usually meets quarterly, on the third Monday of the month at 6:00 p.m. All meetings are open to the public. The agenda for each meeting is posted on the town website at least 48 hours before the meeting. To review the Committee’s meeting schedule, please open this link.
Affordable Housing Committee members
For a list of the names of the current members of the Affordable Housing Committee, please open this link.
Information about affordable housing
State law determines the way affordable housing is defined and the way it is regulated. Generally, the term “affordable housing” means a type of housing that is set aside for low- and moderate-income households. The Rhode Island Low and Moderate Income Housing Act (1991) sets a goal for each city or town to provide 10 percent of its total housing units to be made affordable. In turn, each city and town are required to develop an affordable housing plan that creates a strategy towards achieving that goal. As of 2021, three percent (3%) of Richmond’s housing units are dedicated for low-and moderate-income households.
By the numbers
Below is a snapshot of Richmond’s housing data (source - HousingWorksRI 2021 Fact Book):
Affordable housing strategies
With the assistance of the Affordable Housing Committee, the Planning Board drafts the Comprehensive Community Plan, the blueprint for the town’s long-range development. The Housing Element contained within the Comprehensive Community Plan serves as the town’s affordable housing plan. The Town Council enacts and amends the Comprehensive Plan based on recommendations by the Planning Board.
There are three current strategies available to the Town of Richmond to encourage affordable housing units to be built:
State law requires every city and town to approve Comprehensive Permit applications, residential developments in which at least 25 percent of the dwelling units are sold to or occupied by low- or moderate-income families. Comprehensive permit developments are intended to help cities and towns reach the goals established in their affordable housing plans. The Planning Board reviews applications for Comprehensive Permit developments. The approval process for these developments is different from the approval process for every other type of development. In exchange for providing the low- or moderate-income units, the developer is allowed to deviate from requirements that apply to all other developments, such as the number of dwellings per acre, yard setbacks, or the location of multi-family buildings. State law gives the Planning Board the authority to approve these deviations, which ordinarily would require approval by the Town Council or the Zoning Board of Review. State law also gives the Planning Board the authority to reduce or waive the town fees charged for these developments, including building permit fees.
An inclusionary zoning ordinance requires a developer to include low- or moderate-income housing units in new market-rate residential development. The purpose of such ordinances is to make sure that the community maintains its percentage of low- or moderate-income housing units when new market-rate housing is constructed.
The Richmond inclusionary zoning ordinance applies to any development that results in the net addition of six or more market-rate dwelling units. The number of low- or moderate-income units required is determined by multiplying the number of permitted market-rate units by 15 percent and rounding fractions up.
The inclusionary zoning requirement to provide low- or moderate-income units can be satisfied by building the units on site, building the units at another location, donating land, or paying a fee in lieu of construction. Existing housing that is substantially rehabilitated can substitute for new construction.
The amount of the fee in lieu of construction is the difference between the maximum affordable home sale price for a family of four earning 80 percent of the area median income, and the average cost of developing a single unit of affordable housing. Rhode Island Housing calculates the minimum fee in lieu of construction annually for each city and town. For 2020, the fee in Richmond was $61,000. The developer may decide whether to pay the fee in lieu of construction or to satisfy the inclusionary requirement in another way.
In Richmond, all fees in lieu of construction must be deposited in the town’s affordable housing fund, which was established by ordinance in 2008. As of 2022, there are $183,000.00 available in the fund.
Awards of affordable housing funds
The Affordable Housing Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the Town Council concerning the allocation and award of money in the affordable housing fund established by Ch. 3.08 of the Richmond Code of Ordinances, and for making a recommendation(s) to the Town Council concerning the use of town property for the production of low-or moderate-income housing. These regulations establish guidelines for how recommendations are made. To review the regulations, please click here.
Additional affordable housing information