Rent prices on the rise in Rhode Island, study shows

A sign outside Rhode Island Housing's headquarters in downtown Providence. (photo: WPRI/John Villella)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you’re looking to rent in Rhode Island, you’ve probably already noticed that the cost of an apartment is rising.

According to Barbara Fields, executive director of Rhode Island Housing, the continuous increase has shown no signs of slowing.

“We simply don’t have enough housing here,” she said.

A new survey from Rhode Island Housing revealed that from 2015 to 2016:

  • Average rent for a studio apartment increased 11.1 percent
  • Average rent for a one-bedroom apartment increased 1 percent
  • Average rent for a two-bedroom apartment increased 4.1 percent

Fields also noted that median income is not rising alongside rent costs.

“It really is creating a gap,” she explained. “The reality is, with [fewer] units available, there’s more competition.”

According to federal government standards, you are “housing cost burdened” if you spend more than 30 percent of your gross income on housing. This means a household earning $42,000 a year should not be spending more than $773 per month on housing.

A little more than half (51 percent) of Rhode Islanders fall under the “housing cost burdened” category, according to Rhode Island Housing.

Fields said the solution to higher rent is to add more housing options. One specific example she mentioned was an old factory in the Olneyville section of Providence that will soon become 60 units available for rent.

Fields added that there are development and re-development projects going on across the state, which should help to provide a wider range of rental options.

“I wouldn’t put the same type of housing, for example, in Cranston that I might put in downtown Providence,” said Fields. “So we’re looking at a mix.”

If you have a consumer problem you need help solving, contact the Call 12 for Action Center at (401) 228-1850 Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.