July 7, 2022

House approves Rep. Speakman’s housing appeals board bill Legislation is part of effort to address housing crisis

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State House – The House of Representatives today approved legislation sponsored by Rep. June S. Speakman to provide more transparency and diverse representation on the State Housing Appeals Board (SHAB).
The bill (2022-H 7945A), which is one of the bills included in Speaker K. Joseph Skekarchi’s housing legislative package, would add two members to the SHAB, one from the Center for Justice Rhode Island and one from Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). It also allows the governor to appoint two alternate members from a list offered by realtors or developers. The alternates would rotate service as a voting member at the call of the SHAB’s chairperson.

SHAB is a state panel that decides upon appeals made by developers who believe local review boards have issued decisions on their housing development proposals that are inconsistent with their municipality’s affordable housing plan or with local needs.

The legislation also requires the Rhode Island Housing Resources Commission to issue an annual report detailing the number of appeals pending before the SHAB, the number decided by SHAB in the previous year, and a breakdown of how many were decided within six months, how many took six to nine months, and how many took longer than nine months.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would take effect upon passage.

“Our state’s housing crisis is both widespread and complex. Addressing it is equally complicated, and will require changes, large and small, in the way we approach development. Ensuring that the State Housing Appeals Board has representatives from across the interest spectrum, and is transparent about how long it takes to make its decisions, are two ways Rhode Island can better ensure fairness in our affordable housing development efforts and assess the effectiveness of the appeals process,” said Representative Speakman (D-Dist. 68, Warren, Bristol), who is chairwoman of the Special Commission to Study the Low and Moderate Income Housing Act, which has been working over the last year on improvements to housing development law in Rhode Island.

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