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Making an impact – one house at a time
By Jessica David / November 19, 2018 /   Loading Disqus...

“Impact investing is about aligning financial investments with mission,” says Jessica David, executive vice president of Strategy and Community Investments at the Foundation. Last year, we began investing, beyond traditional grant making efforts, in Rhode Island-based efforts that generate measurable social impact and a financial return. Our goal is to invest up to 5 percent of our endowment in these types of investments. One Neighborhood Builders (ONB) is one of these investments.

Its Protecting Providence Property (P3) program is a pilot effort to develop an alternative method to provide affordable homes for “missing middle” income households – like those earning between $45,000 and $75,000 for a family of four.

“There is a group of Rhode Islanders not being served by typical affordable housing opportunities,” says ONB Executive Director Jennifer Hawkins. “Their income is too high to qualify for most subsidies but they make too little to afford market-rate housing.”

In the P3 pilot, ONB will purchase and rehab six properties in Providence (targeting Olneyville and Elmwood) and rent them to households in this missing middle. ONB hopes that, with its support, families will be able to purchase their properties as they build up housing security, financial capability, and savings.

"It would be fantastic if we could own this house one day."

                                      — Eddie Vega

Eddie Vega and Waleska Chinea just moved into 7 Ticknor Street, the first of ONB’s P3 homes. They had to squeeze in the move around Eddie’s work schedule: six days a week, from 4 a.m. until whenever he finishes making deliveries for Yale Appliance & Lighting.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Eddie and Waleska came to Providence 11 years ago. She is 43, Eddie is 35. She reveals that she has known Eddie since he was a baby – their fathers played baseball together.

While living in a small apartment in the Hartford neighborhood, Waleska was longing to live in a house – a house with a yard where her grandchildren could play.

She discovered the Ticknor Street listing on Hotpad, contacted ONB, and looked at the property that same day. “It has always been my dream to have a house,” she says. Her dream came true two weeks later when, their application reviewed and approved, she and Eddie were handed the keys to the home where they now live with 11-year-old son, Jeddik.

“We found an angel in this program,” says Waleska. “We would not have been able to do this without them.”

“It would be fantastic if we could own this house one day,” adds Eddie, with a broad smile.

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