To the editor:
Affordable, safe and supportive housing is the foundation for a stable life. For people with chronic mental illness, who sometimes find themselves homeless, having a place that is theirs to call “home” in a supportive environment can make the difference between having a productive life and one that is threatened with constant upheaval.
That is why the Board of Directors of the Newport County Community Mental Health Center has endorsed passage of Question 7 on the November 6 ballot. Question 7 would authorize the state to issue a $25 million bond to create 600 units of mostly rental housing throughout the state. Six years ago the voters approved a $50 million housing bond that created 1,300 affordable units, 180 of them in Newport County. For more information, go to www.yeson7.org.
But the need for affordable housing still exists. According to the HousingWorksRI 2012 Fact Book, a household in Newport would have to have an annual income of $52,520 to afford the average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment of $1,313. Yet the average private sector wage in Newport is $34,060. And many common jobs like customer service representative, office clerk, home health aide, retail salesperson and wait staff pay less $34,000 a year. During the economic downturn, building activity supported by the housing bond funds contributed to the sustainability of the construction industry in the state.
Voting for the investment of $25 million in affordable housing through the passage of Question 7 will create homes, support jobs, and allow more Rhode Islanders to have an affordable place to live and thrive.
Judy K. Jones
Newport County Community Mental Health Center