Housing’s “Missing Middle” in Greater Newport, RI

In the Greater Newport region (covering Newport and Bristol counties in Rhode Island) the  “missing middle” is missing housing for the middle class.Due to high costs and limited availability of denser housing options in the region:

  • 73% of households cannot afford the median home price of $347,500;
  • 28% of homeowners and 49% of renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing, defined as “cost burdened”; and
  • Some owners and many renters have to seek out housing that is not affordable at their income level

In a positive step in advancing solutions to these problems, Fourth Economy and Connect Greater Newport partnered with HousingWorks Rhode Island and the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission to host the 2019 Housing Forum.

Participants gather at the 2019 Housing Forum. Photo by Claire Nelson

The 2019 Housing Forum featured three panels of experts discussing the state of housing in the region. The afternoon break-out sessions allowed for a productive discussion between residents, business owners, elected officials, and community members interested in the future of housing for the region. Solutions proposed during the break out sessions included:

  • Addressing short term and seasonal rentals;
  • Improving public perceptions of affordable and workforce housing;
  • Improving infrastructure to support denser housing;
  • Examining zoning ordinances to allow for denser development; and
  • Leveraging private public partnerships that engage major employers in the region

The needs of regional employers are clear: in order to support the growth of existing businesses and attract new companies to the region, the region must develop housing suitable for the workforce. According to an ongoing survey, 85% of respondents say housing is an issue affecting employers in the region. More than three quarters said that cost of homeownership and renting was a “significant” or “very significant” barrier for their employees.

Connect Greater Newport will build off the success of the 2019 Housing Forum and continue to address the central issues of Greater Newport’s business community.

What are your thoughts? Is housing an issue for your company? If you live in the Greater Newport region – share your thoughts here or contact Connect Greater Newport. Not in Newport? Share your thoughts with us here.

About Connect Greater Newport

Connect Greater Newport is a regional economic development initiative launched in 2018 by the Newport County Chamber of Commerce to serve the region’s business community. Connect Greater Newport’s mission is to support the growth of Greater Newport’s existing businesses and serve as a resource to attract new companies to the region.