Patience & Perseverance: After Decades of Dispute, SWAP Breaks Ground for Homeownership in Lower South Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I.-Council President Luis Aponte and Carla DeStefano of SWAP (Stop
Wasting Abandoned Property), together with Lilly Littlejohn of the Family Housing
Development Corporation, Mayor Jorge Elorza, and Barbara Fields of Rhode Island
Housing today announced construction commencement of Pavilion Homes-a new affordable
housing development in South Providence that will be available for homeownership to
families with low and moderate incomes.
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Pavilion Homes is a collaboration between SWAP and the Family Housing Development
Corporation to build single and multi-family homes in South Providence at the former
site of the Roger Williams Housing Development. The first phase of the project
includes five two-family homes and two single-family homes along Pavilion Avenue,
Rugby Street and Byfield Street in Lower South Providence. Plans are still underway
for phase II; once completed, SWAP anticipates a total of 30 – 40 new or
rehabilitated homes will be available for homeownership to families earning less
than 80% of the median income.

When the Roger Williams Housing Development fell into neglect decades ago, it caused
displacement of many South Providence families and spurred years of legal disputes
and false starts for revival. The displacement of those families hurt the community,
said Aponte: «Many of us never gave up on the belief that we could heal that wound
and repopulate this area with new homes so people could reclaim their sense of
place. It’s taken many legal battles and many conversations for us to be here
today.»

Aponte continued, «Providence is a great city because it has great neighborhoods;
for that to continue, there has to be a place for everyone in every neighborhood,
and there has to be a variety of options for people who want to own or rent a home.
Pavilion Place will provide homeownership opportunities-a critical component of
stabilizing a neighborhood-and rental opportunities, which we desperately need.
These homes will provide long-term sustainability and long-term affordability;
they’re built well, they’re energy efficient, they’re compliant, and they convert a
once-empty lot into a place where hope grows, where families can stake a claim in
their own neighborhood.»

«Though it has taken more than 20 years to get to this point, this development will
provide opportunities for many low and moderate income families to be able to buy a
home and be a part of the revitalization of this neighborhood,» said Carla
DeStefano, Executive Director of SWAP. «Hats off to the perseverance of Family
Housing Development members who have stayed with this all these years.»

«I’m thrilled that the groundbreaking of this project signals a major investment
that will provide residents an avenue to fulfill their dreams of purchasing a home
and revitalize a section of South Providence,» said Mayor Elorza. «Expanding
affordable housing opportunities is a priority because safe and secure homes serve
as the foundation for the stability and well-being of many families within our
communities.»

«Rhode Island Housing is extremely proud to partner with the City of Providence,
SWAP and Family Development Corporation to break ground for Pavilion Homes,» said
Barbara Fields, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. «This development has
been a long time in the making, but thanks to the commitment of all those involved,
we have created good, safe homes for working families. Investing in housing is
investing in our economy – developments like Pavilion Homes also create jobs while
strengthening our neighborhoods.»

Lots have been made available by the Providence Redevelopment Agency and funding
from the federal HOME program has been provided by the City of Providence.
Construction lending is provided by Rhode Island Housing.

There are income guidelines for buyers based upon family size, and participation in
a first-time homebuyer program is required. Prospective buyers may call 401-272
-0526 or visit the SWAP office at 439 Pine Street for more information.