Homes RI (formerly called the Housing Opportunities Initiative) was launched in 2017 as a statewide movement to increase the supply of safe, healthy and affordable homes and decrease the housing cost burden that too many Rhode Islanders face. Homes RI is a coalition of multi-sector organizations working together to increase and preserve the supply of safe, healthy and affordable homes throughout Rhode Island. We believe Rhode Island can and should be a state where all residents are able to live in safe, healthy and affordable homes in thriving communities.
In 2021 the Housing Network of Rhode Island was awarded the Ending Rental Arrears to Stop Evictions (ERASE) grant from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. ERASE is designed to ensure that the historic aid enacted by Congress, “Emergency Rental Assistance” (ERA), reaches the lowest-income and most marginalized renters it is intended to help. The project seeks to eliminate rental indebtedness caused by the pandemic and to prevent evictions by tracking and analyzing ERA utilization; documenting and sharing best practices and toolkits; influencing and shaping program design at federal, state, local levels; developing key partnerships for outreach and education; and assessing the remaining needs to inform advocacy for long-term investments to end housing instability and homelessness in the United States. With this funding, we are working locally to promote visible, accessible, and preventative emergency rental assistance and work towards longer term measures to advance housing stability for at risk Rhode Islanders.
In 2022 the Housing Network of Rhode Island was awarded the Our Homes, Our Votes grant from the National Low Income Housing Coalition to expand our voter mobilization, engagement, and education activities. As we prepared to ramp up voter and candidate engagement in anticipation of the 2022 election cycle, we recognized the importance and significance of permanently expanding voter access and modernizing our elections at a statewide level. This is one of the reasons that our backbone organization, HNRI, joined the RI Voter Access Coalition (RIVAC) in 2020, and actively supported the Let RI Vote Act, legislation that would accomplish these goals, signed by the Governor in June 2022.
In addition to supporting voter access legislation, our team engaged directly with residents and Homes RI partners to strengthen voter education and mobilization within our communities. By providing regular updates and reminders to our network, we encouraged more Rhode Islanders to participate in the 2022 elections and make their voices heard. We know that housing opportunities are directly tied to the choices we make at the ballot and we are encouraged everyone to #Vote4Homes. We also generated more visibility of candidates’ housing platforms by creating questionnaires and collaborating with our partners on candidate forums.