RI Housing Secretary resigns

Rhode Island Housing Secretary Josh Saal. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News

By Steve Klamkin WPRO News

Rhode Island’s first Secretary of Housing resigned on Wednesday, and Governor Dan McKee accepted Josh Saal’s resignation.

Saal was hired a year ago as housing ‘czar’, and the position was elevated last summer to a cabinet-level position. He was the subject of harsh criticism after a number of missteps, including missing a deadline last week to submit a report to the General Assembly.

House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi expressed disappointment by “the lack of progress” and “inadequate reports”, after the legislature “committed unprecedented resources to address affordable housing and homelessness” in the budget

“There has been very little funding spent so far,” Shekarchi said, of the $250 million appropriated for the current budget year.

In a statement, Mckee thanked Saal, saying he would stay on for a short transition while his office develops a leadership plan for the fledgling housing department.

“Anything moving forward has to be a team effort, something we work across governments and across cities and towns and state agencies to address,” said Director Brenda Clement of the nonprofit HousingWorks RI. “We need to be a collaborative approach, not a one-person job.”

Rhode Island Secretary of Housing Josh Saal (at podium) appeared at a housing announcement with (from left) Gov. Dan McKee, Lt. Gov Sabina Matos and East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva. Photo by Steve Klamkin WPRO News