Housing Heroes Honored at State House Celebration

Governor Chafee and Rhode Island Housing salute recipients of 2013 Partners in Housing Awards

Providence, RI – May 13, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — During an awards ceremony yesterday at the State House, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee and Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing, honored members of the housing community who exemplify dedication and commitment to the creation of affordable, safe and healthy homes for Rhode Islanders.

“I am proud to join Rhode Island Housing in recognizing these outstanding individuals and groups for their role in providing housing opportunities for Rhode Islanders,” said Governor Lincoln Chafee. “Today’s recipients are very deserving of these awards, and I applaud their consistent hard work, especially in these difficult economic times, to provide our state’s residents with a safe place to call home.”

The five recipients of the 2013 Partners in Housing Awards are:

 Municipal: Jim Reed, Executive Director, Housing Authority of the City of Newport
 Private Sector: Rejuvenation LLC and The Armory Revival Company
 KeepSpace Partner: Olneyville Housing Corporation
 Nonprofit: Linda Weisinger, Deputy Director, SWAP, Inc.
 Public Service: June Sager Speakman, Barrington Town Council President and member of the Barrington Affordable Housing Task Force

The awards identify, recognize, celebrate and showcase the innovative work and many success stories associated with the creation of affordable homes in our state. This year’s award winners reflect the diverse range of individuals, organizations and initiatives that are ongoing throughout Rhode Island.

“We chose these winners from a very strong field of nominated partners, representing the many nonprofit organizations, public agencies and businesses whose staff and volunteers work together to create healthy families and prosperous communities on the foundation of good homes,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “Their collective contributions showcase the compassion, generosity and achievement of people all across our state.”

The 2013 Municipal Award honors an individual who has been innovative and supportive in developing healthy and affordable homes. Jim Reed from the Housing Authority of the City of Newport (HACN) has been actively engaged in affordable housing since 1978. Throughout his career, at both privately held management firms and with the Boston and Newport housing authorities, Jim’s credo has always been to prioritize the needs and interests of residents. Under his leadership, the HACN has transformed its properties into a collection of successful communities fully integrated into the broader fabric of the city. Jim’s successful leadership of the Tonomy Hill-to-Newport Heights transformation is a highlight of our great partnership. His tenant-centered and collaborative approach has yielded one of the best public housing conversions in the country and, to the best of our knowledge, was the only HOPE VI development in the country that had no loss of affordable housing.

The 2013 Private Sector Award pays tribute to a Providence-based initiative that has demonstrated outstanding corporate citizenship in providing healthy, affordable homes that enhance the community.

Founded in 2008 in the midst of the mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rejuvenation LLC has made significant contributions to restoring stability to neighborhood housing markets and to rehabilitating historic properties in order to build strong communities and healthy affordable homes. Rejuvenation LLC is continuing the longstanding and outstanding work of The Armory Revival Company in rejuvenating the neighborhoods around Providence’s Broadway, Westminster and Cranston streets with the restoration and resale of homes serving a variety of incomes. For many years Rhode Island Housing and The Armory Revival Company worked in parallel efforts but, with the recession and credit tightening, we have been working together to further the mission of both organizations.

The KeepSpace Partner Award salutes an organization that embodies KeepSpace’s ground-breaking initiative to create communities where neighbors meet, people work and children play. As local sponsor and partner in the KeepSpace Olneyville Community, Olneyville Housing Corporation (OHC) exemplifies the KeepSpace philosophy of working in collaboration with diverse partners to address a wide range of community issues.

Among the many Olneyville KeepSpace activities are:

 The creation and rehabilitation of good homes to buy or rent;
 A strong commerce focus with the restoration efforts at Paragon Mills and its partnership with YouthBuild;
 Its work with and around the William D’Abate Elementary School;
 The community programming at beautiful Riverside Park;
 Its Public Safety Initiative; and
 The LISC Our Neighborhoods Community Contract.

The 2013 Nonprofit Award celebrates an individual connected to an affordable housing agency who has been a proven partner and strong advocate for housing. Starting as a student intern at SWAP and rising to Deputy Director, Linda Weisinger has shown an unmatched dedication and passion for affordable housing and community revitalization for more than 20 years. Her efforts to map out South Providence became the starting point for SWAP’s transformational investments in the revitalization of Upper and Lower South Providence especially along Friendship and Pine Streets. This has included about a thousand new and rehabilitated homes to rent or own plus dynamic commercial developments at 500 and 1040 Broad Street.

Recognized by Providence Business News in 2011 as one of Rhode Island’s 40 under Forty, Linda started the Home Buyer Education Program at SWAP long before it was a required element for first-time homebuyers and has had tremendous success assisting low- and moderate-income families achieve the dream of owning a home. This award also acknowledges Linda’s leadership role among her peers within Rhode Island’s housing and community development initiatives.

This year’s Public Service award recognizes a public official who has made an extraordinary effort to help provide healthy, affordable homes for all Rhode Islanders. As Barrington Town Council President and member of the Barrington Affordable Housing Task Force, June Sager Speakman has been instrumental in implementing Barrington’s Affordable Housing Plan. Achieving appropriate housing for current and future residents, as their needs change during the course of their lives, is as challenging in Barrington as in every other Rhode Island community. Amidst divergent and sometime discordant voices, Council President Speakman has been a true leader – one that has engaged in and promoted dialogue and has taken decisive action to further the goal of quality, affordable homes for Barrington residents. Her leadership has ensured that the town offers the good homes that provide the foundation of healthy, happy and prosperous individuals, families and communities. Barrington and the entire state are richer and more affordable thanks to her actions.

These winners have been instrumental in enhancing the livability of existing affordable homes; the development of new healthy and attractive ones; or the creation and administration of programs in response to the housing needs of our residents. Working together we are supporting healthy families and communities and a healthy Rhode Island.

About Rhode Island Housing
Rhode Island Housing is a self-sustaining public agency, which generates its own operating income, without state funding. Everything the agency earns is reinvested to meet the needs of the state. Together with its partners, the agency works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a safe, healthy home that meets their needs. Rhode Island Housing provides low-interest loans, grants, education, advocacy and consumer counseling to help its customers rent, buy and retain their homes. It also offers special programs to ensure that these homes are safe and healthy.

Contact
Mary Kate Harrington
401-457-1356
mharrington (at) rhodeislandhousing (dot) org

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