Ribbon Cutting celebrates new affordable homes for adults with special needs in Jamestown
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Ribbon Cutting celebrates new affordable homes for adults with special needs in Jamestown

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Hammett Court Apartments offers new rental homes on the same site as employment training

JAMESTOWN, R.I. – November 26, 2013 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo, RI Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, U.S. Department of HUD Regional Administrator Barbara G. Fields, and Craig Stenning, Director, Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, joined Bridges, Inc., Rhode Island Housing, representatives from BankNewport, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, Jamestown Affordable Housing Trust Fund and other housing champions to celebrate the completion of Hammett Court Apartments in Jamestown.

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Hammett Court Apartments, located in downtown Jamestown, provides five new affordable, rental homes on the same site as employment training and employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities who are clients of Bridges, Inc.

“This new development will give some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens a home and will help its residents pursue meaningful careers by providing on-site employment training services,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I thank Rhode Island Housing and Bridges, Inc. for working together to see this project through to completion.”

People with disabilities face numerous challenges when it comes to housing. According to The ARC, the oldest and largest advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the affordability gap for people with disabilities has exponentially worsened in recent years. The supply of affordable, accessible housing linked to supportive services is far less than the need.

“From my volunteer work at Crossroads, I have seen firsthand the need for affordable housing in our state,” said Treasurer Gina Raimondo. “By providing people with disabilities with a place to call home and supporting their independence, The Bridges and their community partners are making Rhode Island stronger for everyone.”

According to Priced Out in 2010, over 4 million Americans with disabilities who rely on federal monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have incomes less than $8,500 per year – low enough to be priced out of every rental housing market in the nation. Locally, according to HousingWorks RI’s 2013 Housing Fact Book, of the 2,529 year-round housing units in Jamestown, only 11 of those are considered long-term affordable homes for persons with special needs.

President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed said, “The Hammett Court Apartments will provide homes to some of the community’s most vulnerable residents, while helping Bridges better fulfill their mission of helping individuals with special needs achieve greater independence and fulfillment. The project also helped to put Rhode Islanders back to work in the building industry.”

“This is a great example of the kind of affordable housing needed across the state,” said Representative Deborah Ruggiero, “ but what’s especially noteworthy about Hammett Court in Jamestown is it will provide affordable housing as well as employment opportunities for those with developmental disabilities.”

“Here at Hammett Court Apartments we see just how powerful partnerships between and among federal, state and local agencies can be when we link our investments with community organizations to offer much needed housing and job training opportunities for people with disabilities,” said Barbara Fields, HUD New England Regional Administrator. “Congratulations to Bridges, Inc. and all of the partners for filling this critical need here in Jamestown.”

Hammett Court Apartments helps address the acute shortage of housing for adults with disabilities while also providing services and access to vocational training and employment opportunities. Many individuals with special needs face numerous barriers to entering and staying in the workforce. Based on research by The ARC, the majority of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities are either unemployed or underemployed, despite their ability, desire and willingness to engage in meaningful work in the community.

“All people, including those with disabilities gain many benefits from having a job,” said Craig Stenning, Director of the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals. “People are healthier, happier and safer with meaningful work. It gives them a sense of accomplishment and provides the opportunity to be a contributing member of the community. Our Department is committed to helping adults with developmental disabilities achieve self-sufficiency through work readiness, work force development and job creation.”

These new homes are within walking distance of the town hall and town library, as well as numerous commercial enterprises, restaurants and shops, and other facilities/amenities. Located one block from Narragansett Avenue, the only street with a RIPTA bus route in Jamestown, Hammett Court provides access to public transportation for its residents as many do not drive.

“Safe and affordable housing is one of the most critical issues adults with disabilities face,” said Lisa Rafferty, Executive Director of Bridges, Inc. “Our mission is to work in collaboration with the people we support and these new homes are tailored to their success and their ability to live stable and productive lives. It is the best investment we can make in serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We are very thankful for the support we have received from the town. It may be a small community, but it has a big heart.”

The homes have been designed to be handicap accessible with two of the three ground floor apartments fully handicapped accessible and the remaining three apartments have handicapped accessible bathrooms. Features include main entrance ramps, interior doorways wide enough for wheelchairs, interior hallways wide enough for two wheelchairs to pass each other, large flat panel light switches and fire alarms for hearing and visually impaired.

“On behalf of the Town Council and Affordable Housing Trust Fund we applaud the efforts of everyone who worked together to make Hammett Court a reality,” said Kristine Trocki, Jamestown Town Council President and member of the Jamestown Affordable Housing Trust Fund. “Jamestown is a wonderful place to live and work and we welcome our newest residents with open arms and wish them success in all of their endeavors.”

Hammett Court Apartments was made possible with funding provided by HOME funds administered through Rhode Island Housing, Thresholds funding from the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) funding from the town of Jamestown, and funding from the Jamestown Affordable Housing Trust, the Federal Home Loan Bank and BankNewport.

Operating funds are provided through the Neighborhood Opportunities Program (NOP), a unique, state-funded program designed to provide homes for low-wage working families and individuals with disabilities. The program provides funds to cover the difference between the rental cost affordable to very low-wage Rhode Islanders and the cost to owners of actually operating the rental unit.

“Affordable housing is a key component of the Bank’s mission and we are pleased to be collaborating with our member, BankNewport, to support the creation of much-needed affordable housing in Rhode Island through our Affordable Housing Program,” said Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston First
Vice President and Director of Housing & Community Investment Kenneth A. Willis.

“Being a proactive partner in affordable housing is our commitment as a community bank,” stated BankNewport President and CEO, Sandra J. Pattie. “BankNewport is very proud to be a part of the Hammett Court partnership. The clients of Bridges, Inc. will prosper in safe affordable housing, with access to employment training and supportive services, thus further strengthening our community.”

These investments not only provide much-needed affordable homes, but also create work for Rhode Islanders at a time when unemployment numbers are soaring. For these new homes, the Rhode Island-based contractor Ventura Construction of Middletown employed more than 17 construction workers, landscapers and others during the duration of the project.

“Hammett Court Apartments is a great example of the type of development ideally suited for individuals with special needs – combining supportive services and access to employment opportunities and training on the same site with convenient access to community amenities, public transportation and supportive networks,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “These new homes are safe, healthy and affordable and will allow individuals with special needs to receive services and support so they can live as independently as possible.’’

About Bridges, Inc.
Bridges, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1986 and became a certified provider of residential services to people who have developmental disabilities. Their main offices are located in Jamestown, Rhode Island but they have many other locations throughout the state. The agency’s first homes opened in 1986 and were the result of the state’s push to close Ladd Center, the state institution for people with developmental disabilities. Individuals who had resided at Ladd for a majority of their lives were given the opportunity to live in homes operated by Bridges, Inc. in the towns of Jamestown,
Middletown and Richmond. Since opening the original homes in these communities, the agency has opened six additional homes along with three apartment programs.

About Rhode Island Housing
Together with its partners, Rhode Island Housing works to ensure that all people who live and work in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. Rhode Island Housing uses all of its resources to provide low-interest loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, Rhode Island Housing is a privately funded public purpose corporation.

Contact: Mary Kate Harrington, 401-450-1356, mharrington (at) rhodeislandhousing (dot) org

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