A Letter from the President March 2021

By Ethan Gyles, SNA President

On behalf of current and past SNA leadership, and many many Summit neighbors, I’d like to share gratitude for the hard work and friendship of Monica Anderson, who served for many years as neighborhood liaison for The Miriam Hospital. Miriam is the largest institution in our neighborhood, and we appreciate the collaborative approach Monica worked to foster with all of us who live around their campus. In recent years with Monica as a liaison, Miriam/Lifespan have provided significant community grants and engaged in charitable activities serving the Summit and Mount Hope neighborhoods.

Monica has accepted a role at Orlando Health in sunny Florida, and we wish her the best. Thank you, Monica. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with Miriam and its staff, who continue to maintain the neighborhood hotline at 401-793-4040. 

Organizing Volunteers with The Mt Hope Community Center

Volunteers bag food for their neighbors

By Sherry Waldman and Ethan Gyles 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Providence in March 2020, Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune convened a call with local non-profit organizations including SNA, Mt. Hope Community Center (MHCC), Jewish Collaborative Services (JCS), and others to discuss how to prepare to help neighbors in need. SNA contributed by organizing a mutual aid list to match volunteers with need and administered it throughout the past year, as well as fundraised to offset the costs of food and goods purchased for folks who were experiencing financial hardship. Volunteer services included picking up medications and groceries for those who couldn’t leave their homes, or who were especially vulnerable to health complications. Over one hundred and fifty volunteers signed on. We also worked with Rep. Rebecca Kislak to run a check-in phone bank to call our elderly neighbors and make sure they were okay, as well as provide information about available resources. 

In addition to answering the dozens of individual requests for aid we received, tapping into the outpouring of community volunteers also helped SNA assist MHCC to deliver food bags to people who could not get out, as well as helped Higher Ground International’s Rukiya Center deliver hot meals to those in need. Volunteers were eager to assist and, on Wednesdays and Fridays, up to ten volunteers came to the MHCC offices to pick up groceries and bring them to primarily elderly and disabled community members. 

On Friday mornings, a few volunteers also help unload pallets from the RI Food Bank truck at the Camp Street Community Ministries (CSCM) across the street from MHCC, and then bag up the food for delivery. Each of the forty-three to sixty recipient households gets two to three bags of dried goods and fresh produce weekly. This has been a year-long effort of coordination between multiple community organizations and individuals –  an impressive feat of endurance! 

In addition, local business leaders Milena Pagan from Rebelle Artisan Bagels and Becca Brady from Hometown Poke & Cafe donated or offered at heavy discount a bounty of baked goods and fresh produce to the MHCC’s food pantry over the past few months. A big thanks to these businesses that continue to give more than delicious food to our neighborhood, and to all the community organizers and volunteers who jumped in to support their neighbors! 

SNA is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Helen Dukes, Eugene Monteiro, and Marcus Mitchell at MHCC, Jackie Watson at CSCM, Henrietta White-Holder of the Rukiya Center, Erin Minor at JCS, Rep. Kislak, Councilwoman LaFortune, and to help our neighbors! 

Contact Sherry at slwaldman1@gmail.com if you’d like to volunteer – the need goes on!

Public input requested – City comprehensive housing strategy

Hi neighbors,

The SNA Board will draft a public response for the following, which we successfully lobbied for a public input deadline extension on. We welcome input from neighbors on this – please send to SNAProv@gmail.com. Please send to us by 1/13/21. You’re also, of course, welcome and encouraged to directly submit individual input, by 1/19/21.

The SNA Board is acutely aware of the sharply increasing housing prices in our neighborhood, while Rhode Island incomes have been slower to grow, and how that creates a higher and higher barrier to entry to new families and may displace others, including renters. Many residents – my own family included, actually – would no longer be able to afford to become a first-time home buyer in our neighborhood. We’re eager to participate in a process toward fair and equitable solutions.

Best,

Ethan Gyles

City of Providence Charts Bold New Course for Affordable Housing

This month, the City of Providence unveiled the City’s Anti-Displacement and Comprehensive Housing Strategy (the Strategy) and first-ever City Affordable Housing Bond. As COVID-19 amplifies the critical housing needs facing Providence residents, the City’s comprehensive housing plan builds an actionable 10-year road map for policy recommendations, new programs and housing investments. Key findings outlined in the plan include:

  • Providence households are cost-burdened
  • The City’s older housing stock creates challenges
  • Extremely low-Income households are underserved
  • Housing choice and type are limited in several areas of the City

The key findings reflect Providence’s diverse housing ecosystem and the varying needs of renters, homeowners, landlords, developers, and community members. They helped shape the programmatic, policy, and regulatory approaches the City will take to advance affordable housing, including:

  • Identifying new financial resources to invest in Providence’s existing housing stock to preserve and enhance its affordability and quality.
  • Building upon collaborative partnerships to leverage existing housing resources with new funding sources in targeted areas to accomplish shared goals of safe and healthy housing, increased prosperity for all residents, and improved quality of life citywide.
  • Encouraging price diversity in all new housing construction through incentive programs that both ease the cost development and create safer, affordable units in underserved areas.
  • Implementing innovative regulatory changes and new policies to allow for creative housing solutions including increased homeownership, more robust rehabilitation of existing housing, incremental density in areas close to transit and job centers and reducing displacement of long-term Providence residents.

A full overview of recommended policy and programmatic changes, including recommended funding strategies, is available in the draft report, here: https://www.providenceri.gov/…/comprehensive-housing…/.

As the City anticipates the release of the Anti-Displacement and Comprehensive Housing Strategy, the public is encouraged to review the draft report and provide comments over the next 30 days. The City will integrate community feedback into the final plan, to be released in early 2021. For more information about the Strategy—including how to submit feedback—visit the City’s website, here: https://www.providenceri.gov/…/comprehensive-housing…/. For more information & to read the full press release, please click here: https://www.providenceri.gov/city-providence-charts-bold…/

2020 Annual (Virtual) Meeting

All are welcome to join us for our Annual (Virtual) Meeting on Monday October 5th at 7pm! We’ll have a look back and look ahead at SNA activities, updates and Q&A with elected officials, and elect a board and officers for 2020-2021. Please e-mail SNAProv@gmail.com to request a Zoom invitation!

July Meeting

After a hiatus of a few months while SNA has focused on administration of the Ward 3 area neighborhood aid program, we’ll host our normal July meeting (Monday 7/20, 7pm) virtually via Zoom. Please e-mail us for a Zoom invitation if you’d like to participate! Please also e-mail any items you’d like to discuss, so we can add them to our agenda. And finally, if you are interested in joining the SNA Board for 2020-2021, please let us know (and join us for the 7/20 meeting!). The more dedicated volunteer capacity we have, the more we can do to serve. We’d love to hear from you!

COVID-19 Update

Donate to support our neighborhood aid food & supply fund

Are you in need or willing to volunteer?
If you are in a high-risk group and in need of assistance, or if you are a volunteer willing to help, please use this form (or help a neighbor in need who may not have web access to do so). This is a free neighborhood service rapidly put together by SNA and a multitude of other local non-profits, elected officials, and individual volunteers.

Please be safe, smart, and considerate of neighbors who may be in need. If you’re in need, don’t be bashful. Reach out using the form.

Nominate a Summit hero for the 2020 Sheila B. Perlow Award!

Sheila Beth Perlow was a true neighborhood champion. A longtime resident of Oak Hill, she spent 30 years admitting patients in the emergency room at the Miriam Hospital. She was a passionate supporter of the Summit Neighborhood Association and worked tirelessly to improve the Summit neighborhood for all.

She has been a key component of brokering the peace between our residents and our institutional neighbor, the Miriam Hospital.  She did this quietly and naturally. From my experience with Sheila, that’s the only thing she did quietly. She never held her tongue, in a good way. She spoke her mind and let you know what she thought. And she was funny while she did that. . . [S]he was always, always, always the first to volunteer to help out. She took the fun jobs and the not-so-fun jobs, it didn’t matter to her. She was of-service.”

Dean Weinberg, former president of SNA

In honor of her commitment to the organization, the neighborhood, and the people in it, SNA named its Sheila B. Perlow Community Service Award in her honor.

SNA is now seeking nominations for the 2020 award, to be presented at SNA’s Annual Meeting in April. Use the form below to nominate your own neighborhood hero!

Caroling for a Cause 2019

The annual Caroling For A Cause, sponsored by SNA in cooperation with The Miriam Hospital, features a band of volunteer singers of all abilities (you!) tramping through the neighborhood giving voice to the festive season and soliciting contributions of peanut butter or cash from residents to benefit the St. Raymond’s food pantry.

Everyone, including families with children, are invited to gather at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at the hospital main lobby for hot chocolate and cookies. At 4:30, the group will go a’caroling, and conclude in the parking lot of Seven Stars bakery on Hope Street about 6:30.

Songbooks will be provided, but participants should bring flashlights (or smartphone lights) to read the words. There will also be singing leaders, so no one should worry about not being able to carry a tune! (That being said, if you’d like to serve as a singling leader, please let us know!)

2019/2020 Property Tax Saga


Update as of 10/25/19: the City Council created a “Special Commission for the Study of a Progressive Property Tax

Update as of 7/15/19: the city budget has been signed by Mayor Elorza, and includes the more conventional property tax structure. City Council leadership stated that while they were unsuccessful this year, they wish to try to make the change to a two-tiered structure again next year.

Update as of 7/3/19: The controversial tax changes are off the table for this year. The Council switched to a more conventional proposal. The mayor has yet to approve it and may veto it, since it is part of a budget that includes some cuts that could be viewed as controversial. See Boston Globe article below. “The budget the council will vote on Wednesday would set one property tax rate — $24.56 per $1,000 of assessed value — for all homes, with a 40 percent exemption going to individuals who live in the properties they own. The proposal means anyone who was already getting a tax decrease under Elorza’s plan would get a larger one now, and residents who were getting a tax increase are getting a slightly smaller increase.”

Original June 2019 Post: SNA hosted a discussion on June 17th regarding the City Council leadership’s proposed property tax changes following the recent mandatory revaluation that occurred. Ward 3 City Councilor Nirva LaFortune shared her understanding and opinion of the situation, and fielded audience questions along with fellow elected officials District 4 State Representative Rebecca Kislak and Ward 1 City Councilor Seth Yurdin. The city must decide on a tax structure soon to tax residential property on their new valuations. There are two proposals in play as of June 18, 2019, each of which would comply with the state mandate that no city or town increase TOTAL taxes by more than 4% in one year: the Elorza administration’s proposal and the City Council leadership’s proposal. We’ll post resources here in an ongoing manner with an eye toward impartial information and statements by our local elected officials. Please share with us via SNAProv@gmail.com if you encounter sources that you think would be helpful to folks.