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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 874-2116

URI’s College of Human Science and Services
collaborates with South County Habitat for Humanity

KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 7, 2003 -- Not many people think of the effect the University of Rhode Island has on the cost of housing in South County. That is precisely why the College of Human Science and Services, in collaboration with the South County Habitat for Humanity, is taking action.

It’s no secret that landlords down-the-line can make more money by renting to five individuals during the school year and then to beach-goers in the summer, leaving South County families without affordable housing. Because of this cycle, the College and Habitat are planning to build a home off Route 3 in Richmond in the fall of 2003.

Building planners: (L-R) Fran Noring, David Byrd, Susan Roush, and Evelyn Dvorak.
On May 1 the College will hold a breakfast fundraiser at the University Club to raise funds and welcome on- and off-campus supporters. The Committee’s goal is to raise $35,000 for building supplies. Donations can be sent to Associate Dean Susan Roush, 116 Quinn Hall, University of Rhode Island, Kingston, R.I. 02881. The committee will be accepting volunteers from the faculty and student body to help in this community service effort.

"There is a pressing need for contributions at this point," according to Roush.

This project appealed to the College of Human Science and Services," Roush said. "The lack of a stable living environment can and does have an adverse impact on many aspects of a person’s life, including self-esteem, educational achievement and opportunity, health, and child care, all of which are things we as a College care about deeply," she said.

Second, the prices of homes in South County have risen. This is partially attributed to the ever-growing URI campus. The students living down-the-line are in competition with local residents looking for affordable housing, according to Evelyn F. Dvorak, development manager of South County Habitat for Humanity. The students can split the rent up to six ways. Once school is out, landlords can rent to beach-goers, thus perpetuating the problem for local residents, she added.

The housing prices in South Kingstown have gone up according to riliving.com, the web site of the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. At the end of 2001 the median price for a single-family home in South Kingstown was $200,000 and in 2002 it was $265,329, a 32.66 percent increase. At the end of 2001 the median price for a single-family home in Narragansett was $218,500 and in 2002 the median was $267,400, a 22.38 percent increase.

Habitat builds houses according to the needs of the family, and because no family has been chosen yet the exact size of the home has not been determined. But the typical three-bedroom South County Habitat house has one full bath, and 1,120 square feet of living space, according to Dvorak. The selected family will purchase the house for about $61,000, pay a 2 percent down payment of $1,220 and a monthly payment of $425 for a 25-year mortgage. According to Durkin Cottage Realty, a three-bedroom house in Narragansett at $250,000, would have a 25 percent down payment of $62,500 and a monthly mortgage payment of $1,500 to $1,800.

Habitat serves families whose income is 50 percent or less of the local median family income and its mission is to help end homelessness and poverty housing. It keeps costs down by building with volunteer labor.

But the homes are not given away. The individuals who purchase the home must go through an application process. Once selected, they must put in "sweat equity" on the construction of their own or other Habitat homes.

The Steering Committee of this project consists of individuals from the URI community and from the local Habitat group. The committee members are: Susan Roush, associate dean; Joan Anderson, professor of human development and family studies; David Byrd, professor of education; Heinrich Doll, professor of physical education; Denise Couchen, secretary of URI’s Kingston Child Development Center; retired faculty member and current member of the Habitat board of directors, Fran Noring, and Evelyn Dvorak, Habitat development manager.

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