How the Government Plantations Work for Affordable Housing


Unsurprisingly, the Providence Journal reports today (with a tone of support) that “housing advocates” are backing a ballot question that would allow them to borrow and spend $50,000,000 on taxpayers’ tab (with interest bringing the bill to over $80,000,000).  Basically, they’re advocating for their own income and influence, as touched upon in this space in February.

Not only is there a multi-million-dollar industry around advocating for money and processing government payments, the advocates ultimately are giving work to private contractors to build the houses, as well.  A table accompanying the Projo article breaks down “awards” by town for a similar, $25 million bond in 2012.  Oddly, Tiverton is near the top of the list, with 128 “affordable units” at a cost of $6,340,000.

Two of them (three, if two-family houses count twice) are in a middle class neighborhood near me, nestled among lawyers, marketing executives, and financial advisors, where the houses tend to hover around $400,000… and let’s just say that the cars in the driveways of these “units” aren’t out of place on the street.  In other words, taxpaying Rhode Islanders of all incomes won’t only be paying $80,000,000 just to ensure that less-advantaged people have places to live.  They’ll be funding an advocacy industry to hire private contractors to build houses where the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development’s ideology says they should be built: in highly desirable neighborhoods where costs are higher and where they’ll be worth much, much more than is “affordable” when the affordability restriction is removed in 30 years.

Another dimension to the scheme comes with the “company state” aspect.  From the Projo article:

A study completed for Rhode Island Housing in April found that at least 3,500 units of new housing yearly, at prices affordable to millennials and retired adults, are necessary to meet the needs of Rhode Islanders through 2025, but this is more than triple recent levels of housing production in the state. And in the private market, most new construction is priced for a high-income clientele.

The advocates are taking advantage of the difficulties faced by lower-income Rhode Islanders in order to keep their well-funded organizations in business building “affordable housing” where it is not the most affordable to do so.  That’s what’s turning our state into “Rhode Island and the Government Plantations.”  Insiders are harvesting people dependent on government in order to justify confiscating money from other people, locally and nationally.  This is becoming Rhode Island’s true core industry.  Consider:

The United Way of Rhode Island contributed $100,000 to the “Yes on 7″ campaign, and housing advocates have been working to raise another $70,000 through fundraising, according to Melina Lodge of the Housing Network of Rhode Island, the state association of nonprofit community development corporations.

At the United Way’s “Housing for All” summit in March, president and CEO Anthony Maione said that United Way, Bank of America and National Grid had together pledged $150,000 to help promote more long-term affordable housing solutions. (This might include building more support in the state budget for housing, according to Lodge.) Maione added that in 2015, the United Way logged 60,000 calls from Rhode Islanders needing help with housing costs.

According to IRS filings, United Way of Rhode Island had nearly $18,000,000 in revenue in 2014.  Rhode Island’s transparency site puts state-government payments to the organization at between $750,000 and $900,000 per year, while private organizations reap an unknowable amount of tax advantage donating to the organization.  Maione made $288,862 in pay and other compensation that year, with three six-figure VPs under him.

Clearly, it’s worth $100,000 to this organization to spend a paltry $100,000 advocating for more millions invested in the government plantation, so it can help harvest the need of those 60,000 Rhode Islanders.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I have always wondered what happened to HUD. When I first encountered them in the 70’s they gave mortgages directly to individuals. They were fundamental to the gentrification of Boston’s “South End”. In the 80’s and 90’s, they had programs to aid elders in adding a rental unit. Now they will only deal with governmental units and “non-profits”. Perhaps there were “scandals”. On the other hand Sen. Brooke was an “unindicted co-conspirator” in running a few fast ones past HUD and now he has a courthouse named after him.

  • Guest

    The basic meaning of “Plantation” is cultivation and growth of one crop.

    Unlike back in old Yankee New England, RI made up of 39 cities and towns plus related individual governments, Honolulu, HI (about 75% landmass size of RI) 599 sq. mi. is one contiguous single City and County island with one school district for whole state, made up of various neighborhoods and villages that are not single ethnic, race, religion, wealth, language or skin color orientated or based as everyone lives together in HI. Land in HI is at a premium and when it becomes available for housing construction it is first come first served whoever has the funds to purchase, build and/or occupy.

    Currently NEW city zoning laws recognize there is a great disparity in the number of low rental and affordable housing units for rent to lower income populations as property owners strive to maximize their incomes (free
    market) by raising rent prices ($2-$2.5K/mo. plus; no utilities or parking) to
    market and above market prices, conversion of affordable rental properties into medium/high priced condominiums and sky rocketing housing median prices ($775K median single family house; $400K median condominium) thus pricing some individuals out of housing markets completely leaving them homeless.

    To this end the city has been building temporary transitional housing to move homeless people off the streels and requiring all new condominium
    towers, condominium conversions and neighborhood housing developments to set aside percentages of housing units for low, medium, average, market and above free market pricing depending on the area of the city they are converting housing to condominiums or building new housing.

    Of course the property or land owner can ask for a zoning variance in accordance with existing zoning laws at time of original construction and neighborhood board of approval (owner/developer must go before meeting of all neighbors and explain why and neighbors vote to approve or disapprove). Sometime owner/developers sweeten deal by building new schools, neighborhood park, golf course, neighborhood swimming pool, small boat harbor some or all to get their construction wishes. City and state tax incentives are almost nonexistent as that is not the way normal business is done with developers.

    If the contractor or developer wants to use Federal low income housing programs for construction assistance that is their individual right and decision but HI law does not dissuade or exclude people or allow people
    based on their economic wealth, race, color, religion, language, sexual
    orientation, age be denied their right to live and be housed where they would like to live.

    In the State of HI there is no ethnic race or color majority and everyone including all tourists are treated as equal minorities. According to U.S. Census Bureau, HI has the highest percentage of interracial marriages
    (all ethnic races of the world) in the United States and is the nation’s true
    melting pot. We all get along quite well together unlike all the race riots and
    protest marches on the mainland.

    • Rhett Hardwick

      This raises so many questions. For instance, how does the Zoning Board derive the power it is exercising? I have lectured on the perversion of zoning too many times to bear repeating. In America the people confer rights to the government, the government does not confer rights to the people. Guess what, HI is a resort with scarce land, who goes there looking for cheap rents. They sound slightly lower than Boston.

  • GaryM

    Skimming goes on throughout this industry. They build homes for $300,000 that should only cost $200,000 if built in the regular housing market. In Barrington, the town sponsored the Walker Farm project being a cluster of small low quality homes (no granite or high end anything) built on postage stamp lots that cost an average of $330,000 each to build. They then sold them for around $170,000 each.

    Where did the extra money come from? You guessed it, taxpayers. You will find high end cars parked in most of the driveways. It’s a taxpayer scam.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    As I have stated here many times before, Zoning is not a “taking” because the “police powers” of the Constitution permit laws for public safety. i.e., lot size for separation of wells and septic, side yards to prevent fire transfer, etc. Everything else is a perversion. For instance, the “police powers” do not include “protecting property values”.

  • Guest


    There are 8 Islands in Hawaii where people live and each
    island is totally different from the others including the people. For example Island of Kauai is most tropical, has “Grand Canyon of the Pacific on it” and rural and most of the people living there are transplants from Southern California. Island of Maui is rural and has most movie, stage and recording artists living on it. Island of Oahu is most metropolitan and most internationally visited. The Big Island of Hawaii has live volcano on it and largest contiguous cattle ranch in U.S.A. cowboy country looks a lot like Texas and Islands of Lanai and Molokai are small laid back rural and where you go to drop off the earth and
    out of sight as people on these two islands are most Hawaiian.

    Under Hawaii Constitution is the “Aloha Spirt Law” which all
    people living in Hawaii are to follow so it is unusual to hear of someone being taunted and most everyone that is white is called a “haole” as it refers backto the 1778 when Hawaii was first discovered by British Explorer Captain James Cook.

    When Polynesians greet each other they go forehead to
    forehead, nose to nose and say “Aloha” into each other’s face which is exchanging the “breath of life.” When Captain James Cook greeted the Polynesians, he stuck out his hand to shake and said; “good day!”; so the Polynesians called white people “Haole” which means “without breath of life” after Captain James Cook. You can thank the British for the name “Haole.”

    Boys will be boys and if kids are taunting another child in
    school the teachers will intervene. Usually it breaks down to one or more kids not understanding the other. Hawaii has a very diverse culture about every ethnic race is represented in Hawaii with over 60 languages spoken daily. Hawaii is
    the only state with two official languages; Hawaiian and English.

    One thing you must remember unlike on the mainland, in
    Hawaii there is no majority race or color and there are no ethnic neighborhoods as everyone lives together and is treated as equal minorities. That in itself would be hard for a child that was raised on mainland in an all-white society.

    Just like when Hawaiian children go off to college on
    mainland they have to attend a class on racial discrimination before they leave because they are not subjected to it here in the isles. I’ve had a few white
    people visitors and two African-American visitors carry that chip on their shoulder with them from the mainland. They soon found out how unwelcome they are in Hawaii.

    Yes there has always been a movement to restore the Hawaiian Kingdom that was stolen from the people by the forceful overthrow of the Queen by white plantation owners with help from the U.S. Marine Corps; the then annexation
    by the U.S. Government, bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan leading to marshal law and WWII, territorial law and then statehood declaration by U.S. Government.

    You have the activists that want it all to happen at once
    and you have the moderates that want to ease back slowly and legally so there are two clashing factions within the Hawaiian movement. There is only about 1% of 100% Hawaiian blood left living in Hawaii out of an estimated 300,000 original Hawaiian population that was decimated by disease brought by sailors and New England whalers. The rest has had their blood line diluted via interracial marriages some going as deep as 16 different ethnic races.

    The U.S. Government did offer a Presidential apology to the people of Hawaii by President Bill Clinton and there has been an offer to finally recognize the native indigenous people of Hawaii as the American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos have full recognition. State of Hawaii would not secede from the United States of America but would establish a government to government relationship with the Hawaiians like there is with American Indians and Alaskan Eskimos.

    There is still Hawaiian royalty alive so the ʻIolani Palace once again would become the royal palace home to the royal family.