For Immediate Release                                                  Media Contacts

April 3, 2022                                                                City of Pawtucket

                                                                                    Emily Rizzo, erizzo@pawtucketri.com

                                                                                    NYU Furman Center
                                                                                    917-512-1571, charles.mcnally@nyu.edu




Cities Become Recipients of One of Nine Small and Midsize Places Selected for Peer Cities Network at NYU Furman Center’s Housing Solutions Lab


PAWTUCKET- Pawtucket and Central Falls announced their selection to a nationally-funded initiative for small and midsize cities to develop innovative, equitable local housing solutions. The Housing Solutions Lab Peer Cities Network will advance evidence-based solutions that address pressing housing challenges, with a specific focus on racial and health equity. Led by an interdisciplinary team from the New York University Furman Center with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Network will support city leaders as they design policy to tackle issues including housing insecurity and homelessness, affordable housing production and preservation, and fair housing and neighborhood investment. While large coastal cities often receive the majority of policy attention for their housing challenges, the Peer Cities Network is exclusively for cities with fewer than 500,000 residents. Learn more about the Housing Solutions Lab.


“Pawtucket is pleased to be chosen as one of the cities in the Peer Cities Network through the NYU Furman Center Housing Solutions Lab and is excited to start the process with Central Falls,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “This is a great opportunity for our communities to assess our current housing and address the continued needs of our residents. Housing, specifically affordable housing, is an important issue that many communities are working to address, and through this program we will be able to see many different approaches.”


“Housing is a top priority of my administration. We have been looking for ways to increase the stock of all types of housing in our city, particularly affordable housing. But as one of the most dense cities in America with little available land, we need to find creative solutions to housing,” said Central Falls Mayor Maria Rivera. “Through the Housing Solutions Lab, we hope to learn how other communities across the country with similar challenges have fostered the development of new housing units.”


Pawtucket and Central Falls were selected jointly to participate in the second cohort of cities, which also includes:


  • Cedar Rapids, IA
  • Des Moines, IA
  • Evanston, IL
  • Missoula, MT
  • Pasco, WA
  • Portland, ME
  • Rochester, NY
  • San Marcos, TX

“Our goal is to meet cities where they’re at— and offer a range of supports that can be customized to meet their unique housing needs,” said Martha Galvez, Executive Director of the Housing Solutions Lab. “In joining the Peer Cities Network, Pawtucket and Central Falls will gain access to a national community of experts, practitioners, and researchers to help them plan and launch strategies that leverage housing to expand opportunity.”

The Housing Solutions Lab provides the following services to cities:


Peer networking and support: Network participants will join a national community of peers in small and midsize cities, and an ongoing forum for shared learning, support, and policy innovation.

Timely policy resources: Participants will receive timely, actionable policy updates and access to case studies, research, and other resources to inform small and midsize city leaders’ housing-related efforts.

Local housing data: Participants will have access to data describing local housing conditions, trends, and challenges.

Technical assistance and research support: Participants will have access to technical assistance and research expertise to help design, implement, and evaluate local housing policy strategies and solutions.


Last year, seven cities participated in the first Network cohort: Arlington, TX; Boulder, CO; Cleveland, OH; Jackson, MI; Oakland, CA; Pittsburgh, PA, and Syracuse, NY. After sessions focusing on developing comprehensive, balanced, and equitable local housing strategies, local housing leaders walked away with actionable policy items. With the Lab's assistance, housing officials in Boulder, CO improved their approaches to data collection and metrics for tracking outcomes and progress for eviction prevention and rental assistance.

A past Network member, Sheryl Kenny, Grants Manager in Arlington, Texas, said “staff at the NYU Furman Center’s Housing Solutions Lab have access to the latest housing research and trends, which helps peer cities see the bigger picture and tap into creative ideas. There is not a single meeting we’ve attended where we did not have at least one or two important takeaways or ideas that can be implemented in Arlington to improve services and outcomes.”


The selected cities and counties are grappling with a wide range of challenges and market conditions. Yet in every selected city, a significant portion of the population are cost burdened, meaning more than a third of household incomes are spent on housing—and as a result of racialized poverty and segregation, those households are disproportionately Black and Hispanic. The Network will therefore center racial equity in the comprehensive housing strategies pursued.

Through access to the expertise of leading practitioners and researchers, Pawtucket and Central Falls will be active participants in the conversation about what housing policies work, how to effectively implement them, ways to make cross-sector connections, and strategies to center resident voice and priorities in advancing equitable housing policies.

About the Housing Solutions Lab: The Housing Solutions Lab at the NYU Furman Center helps small and midsize cities plan, launch, and evaluate evidence-based local housing policies that advance racial equity; increase access to opportunity; and improve long-term health and wellbeing for residents. 

About the NYU Furman Center: The NYU Furman Center advances research and debate on housing, neighborhoods, and urban policy. Established in 1995, it is a joint center of the New York University School of Law and the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. More information can be found at furmancenter.org and @FurmanCenterNYU.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is committed to improving health and health equity in the United States. In partnership with others, we are working to develop a Culture of Health rooted in equity that provides every individual with a fair and just opportunity to thrive, no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at www.rwjf.org/twitter or on Facebook at www.rwjf.org/facebook.

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City Speak
"The birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Pawtucket is poised to undergo a 21st century evolution into Rhode Island's premier arts and cultural destination, an ideal community to live, work, play, start a business and raise a family."

- Mayor Donald R. Grebien

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