Governor Gina Raimondo is teaming up with the Rhode Island Housing team to help college graduates purchase homes in Rhode Island, with intent to encourage them to live and work in Rhode Island.
According to the Rhode Island Housing website, students that have graduated within the last 36 months from an accredited academic institution are eligible for the Ocean State Grad Grant. The reward is up to $7,000 in down payment assistance.
Economics department chair Richard McIntyre said that he thinks the general idea of creating incentives to encourage college graduates to stay in the state is a good one.
“One of the problems that we have here is that housing costs are very high, especially with the southern part of the state being a vacation area,” said McIntyre. Â
McIntyre explained that because real estate prices are high, while salaries are not, residents get into financial trouble and find that they can no longer afford to live in the state of Rhode Island.
“Whether it is through something like this or some other program that makes it more affordable for college graduates to live here, I think it’s a good idea,” said McIntyre.
The action being taken by Raimondo and Rhode Island Housing could be seen as beneficial for not only college students, but for the state in general. McIntyre believes that it makes sense to give back to graduates because Rhode Island has invested quite a bit of money in college education and the state would like to capture some of the payoff as graduates start families.
“The question I have is, is $7,000 enough?” McIntyre said, “Sometimes the symbolic value of money is important, so the very fact that the state is doing something for college graduates could encourage people to stay here.”
McIntyre said that this grant could serve as just a piece of different contributions and savings of money that would be enough to get some people through their down payment. “Is it enough on its own? Probably not.”
With society constantly changing and developing, McIntyre said that having more people reside in Rhode Island is generally a good thing for our economy.
“Having more people increases demand,” he said. “People spend money. They create jobs for other people. If you’re able to keep people who have some resources, both financial and intellectual, you might create new kinds of businesses and you might develop synergy between different kinds of activities.”
The worry has been that it is difficult to be able to grow up here and afford to stay here.
“Housing is a thing to work on, it’s a good start. The argument could be made that this is a special interest. There are a lot of poor people in the state and they’re struggling to meet their housing costs too. I think there is some legitimacy to that. I like the idea that the governor is doing something rather than nothing,” McIntyre said.
Melanie Tzenova, a senior at URI, is originally from Connecticut and says that she does not plan on buying a house right out of college.
“I do think it’s a smart idea investing money in retaining Rhode Island college students to stay in the state, but I don’t think it is a significant amount of money when you’re buying a house,” she said.