Overwhelmingly Affordable Housing

192 units of housing. For as low as $25 per month.

Seriously. It’s called The Tower. And it’s owned and operated by Crossroads Rhode Island in Providence.

The Tower is 100% subsidized. This makes it possible for rents to be as low as $25 for individuals with $0 income, and others paying slightly more based upon her/his income (and only paying 30% of their income on housing). The balance of the subsidy comes either through Providence Housing Authority Section 8 or the State Rental Subsidy Program.

When communities talk about having no housing for people that do not have an income, I wish they could learn more about housing opportunities like this one.

The 9-storey building is about 100 years old. It was previously owned by the YMCA, and then came to be part of Crossroads’ housing portfolio. How did Crossroads secure this gem? The building was purchased from the Y in 2002.  At the time of the purchase, it was divided into condominiums, the Tower being one, 16 apartments being another, and the Crossroads Agency space being a third.  Funds to purchase and renovate the Tower and Apartments came from a variety of sources including LIHTC, HOME, and mortgage financing to name a few.

On two floors of the Tower there are the 16 full, spacious apartments. They are complete with a full bathroom and full kitchen. The only condition to access these apartments is having a disability and have been formerly homeless.

On all of the other floors, there are 176 private single room occupancy units that, while not as spacious as the apartments, offer a private, secure place to sleep. One of the floors is solely for women. There are shared bathroom and shower facilities on each of these floors. On these floors, residents can have a microwave in her/his unit, but cannot have a hot plate. Good news, there is a community agency close by that serves breakfast and lunch every day, and Crossroads offers dinner to the residents each day.

This isn’t transitional housing. Residents can stay as long as they like. It is permanently affordable for those that need it to be and choose to stay there.

Like many housing providers, they have struggled over the years to balance the needs and safety of residents with guest management. Appreciating the shared washroom spaces and public spaces within the building, after many consultations with residents the decision was made to restrict access and not allow overnight guests.  On site security provides a concierge type function to ensure that residents are safe.

Crossroads personnel make strategic efforts to be involved with the residents in the Tower. There are case management services. There are socio-recreational activities like an arts class.

Crossroads has been going through a detailed, deliberate process for about a year now to align their programs and services with ending homelessness. The Tower is an important tool that the organization is able to leverage in this pursuit. Access to a unit in the Tower when there is a vacancy is moving towards being based on acuity.

How much does it cost to operate the housing on an annual basis? The annual operating budget for Tower and 16 Apartments is approximately $1,179,000.  Additionally, there is another $80,000 in supportive service expenses, which do not flow through the LP, but are targeted to it and included in the Crossroads budget.

If you want to learn more, feel free to contact Karen Santilli with Crossroads Rhode Island: Karen Santilli ksantilli@crossroadsri.org

About Iain De Jong

Iain is a playful nerd, hellbent on ending homelessness, increasing affordable housing, creating vibrant communities, and expanding the knowledge amongst leaders that influence social issues. Having held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits, and the private sector, Iain has a wealth of experience and has garnered dozens of awards for his work across Canada and internationally. His work has taken him across Canada, the United States, and to Australia. In 2009, Iain joined OrgCode as its President & CEO, and in 2014 assumed full ownership of the firm. In addition to his work with OrgCode, Iain holds a part-time faculty position in the Graduate Urban Planning Programme at York University.


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