Patience & Perseverance: After Decades of Dispute, SWAP Breaks Ground on Pavilion Avenue
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.
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.