2018-08-30 / Front Page

50 YEARS OF LIVING

Housing authority celebrates golden anniversary
BY MATT WUNSCH


David Manuel and Coffee Bell, above, sing a duet at Pemberton Apartments during a picnic Saturday to celebrate the Jamestown Housing Authority’s 50th anniversary. Below, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Bow Street resident, chats with Ed Gromada. Reed saluted the authority for five decades of success. PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN David Manuel and Coffee Bell, above, sing a duet at Pemberton Apartments during a picnic Saturday to celebrate the Jamestown Housing Authority’s 50th anniversary. Below, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Bow Street resident, chats with Ed Gromada. Reed saluted the authority for five decades of success. PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Now celebrating 50 years of fitting low-income residents with a comfortable place to live, the Jamestown Housing Authority celebrated its golden anniversary with a cake and some kind words.

The ceremony Friday at Pemberton Apartments coincided with the annual commissioner’s cookout for tenants of the 35-unit complex, which is for senior citizens and people with disabilities.

“It’s a chance to give back to the residents,” said Brian Anthony, operations manager of the housing authority. “This year it was even more special with the 50th anniversary.”

The town’s state legislators, Rep. Deb Ruggiero and Sen. Dawn Euer, spoke alongside U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who lives on Bow Street. He applaud- ed the authority for five decades “of quality, safe, affordable housing opportunities for our citizens.”

Established in 1968, Anthony said the housing authority has a storied history of meeting high standards. Evidenced by the event, tenants enjoy their quality of life at Pemberton, he said.

“Generally speaking, once people get in here, they tend to stay awhile,” Anthony said. “Jamestown is a beautiful island to live on. Our tenants take advantage of activities happening at places nearby like the senior center and Jamestown Arts Center. They enjoy the arts and culture here.”

The waiting time for most affordable housing applicants, Anthony said, is about 18 months. Because the authority doesn’t receive sky-high checks on a monthly basis like most landlords in town, he said maintaining the apartments requires continuous effort. The authority relies on Community Block Development Grants, which is state money applied for through the town. It pays for a bevy of upgrades and repairs, from new fire escapes to extended patios.


Coffee Bell teases Deb Ruggiero with a handful of frosting from the 50th anniversary cake. Ruggiero, the state representative for Jamestown, read a proclamation during the picnic. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Coffee Bell teases Deb Ruggiero with a handful of frosting from the 50th anniversary cake. Ruggiero, the state representative for Jamestown, read a proclamation during the picnic. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Anthony said the organization received close to $30,000 from that grant program in 2018. Like most housing authorities in Rhode Island, Jamestown also receives money annually from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development. For this fiscal year, Anthony said his authority received $48,310 of the $19.9 million allocated to the Ocean State for capital improvements.

These federal grants offer aid to approximately 3,100 public housing authorities across the nation to build, repair, renovate and modernize public housing. Examples include replacing roofs and upgrading old systems to become energy-efficient.

This year, Anthony is asking for money to replace bathrooms and kitchens, and update walls and attics. The housing authority receives input on Pemberton’s specific needs from tenants during the authority’s meetings at 10 a.m. the second Wednesday of each month.

While Reed, who serves as the ranking member on an appropriations subcommittee for housing and urban development, saluted the Pemberton authority for 50 successful years, he said more needs to be done in the bigger picture.

“It is great to hear about the accomplishments of the dedicated, hardworking staff and residents,” he said. “They have come a long way. As we celebrate this milestone, we must recommit to preserving our public and affordable housing, and ensuring accessibility for our most vulnerable residents, including seniors and those with disabilities. I am a firm believer that a stable home environment is a platform for success and we must continue working together to support investments in housing programs to help Rhode Islanders in need now and in the future.”

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