Smithfield second most affordable community for renters

Smithfield second most affordable community for renters

SMITHFIELD – This town is the second most affordable in Rhode Island to rent a two-bedroom apartment, though renting and purchasing housing remains difficult here and elsewhere in the state as income is not keeping up with rising housing costs, a new study reaffirms.

The 2020 HousingWorks RI Fact Book released earlier this month states that the average renter in Rhode Island with a median income of $34,255 “could not affordably rent in any Rhode Island city or town.”

In Smithfield, the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,170, up 1 percent in the past five years. A household would need to earn $46,800 to afford those rent payments.

Yet, the median household income is $82,374, making Smithfield rank the second most-affordable town to rent a two-bedroom apartment, coming in just behind Burrillville.

With a population of 21,630, only 21 percent of Smithfield residents rent out of the 7,817 households here.

According to the report, Smithfield reached 5.87 percent of the 10 percent state-mandated low-to-moderate housing stock. The town would need 317 more LMI units to reach 10 percent.

Town Planner Michael Phillips said at the November Planning Board meeting that Smithfield’s LMI numbers will likely go down due to the 2020 census, pushing back the expected arrival at the 10 percent mark to 2050.

Only six Rhode Island communities, including Burrillville, Central Falls, Newport, New Shoreham, Providence and Woonsocket, reached 10 percent LMI housing.

As far as purchasing a home, 55 percent of households in northern Rhode Island, including Burrillville, Foster, Glocester, Johnston, Scituate, Smithfield, North Smithfield and Woonsocket, can’t afford the region’s median price of $245,000.

The median single-family home in Smithfield costs $311,000, with a monthly payment of $2,208. Home values rose 17 percent over the past five years, according to HousingWorks, from a median price of $264,836.

Smithfield is the 14th most affordable community in Rhode Island to own a two-bedroom single-family home. By those numbers, a household would need an income of $88,322 to afford a median single-family home in Smithfield.

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In Smithfield, 23 percent of homeowners and 43 percent of renters are cost-burdened by their home, or spend more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs, according to the report.

On average, the rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,651 in Rhode Island, a 1 percent increase over the past five years. A person would need to earn $66,040 to afford the state’s average monthly rental payments.

In Rhode Island, the median household income is $63,296.

HousingWorks RI, based at Roger Williams University, said it has not produced a handbook amid a national crisis since 2009, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of stable housing.

“Despite decades of warnings from housing researchers and advocates, fragile home security is clearly compromising our ability to control the virus and stabilize our neighborhoods,” the report states.