Newport City Councilors voted unanimously Wednesday night to pass five resolutions. Under one, the city will seek proposals to redevelop the vacant Coggeshall School to provide more housing units. 

Newport Mayor Xay Khamsyvoravong says he wants to capitalize on vacant or underused properties to create more affordable housing. Coggeshall School has been vacant since it closed its doors in June 2013.

“Anytime you have the opportunity to take a historic structure or an existing parcel and get multiple units out of it, we need to be taking those opportunities seriously, and pursuing them aggressively,” Khamsyvoravong said.

Other resolutions call for the city to review the impact of short-term rentals and zoning codes on affordable housing.

Councilor David Carlin III represents the Third Ward and put his name on all five resolutions. He was the prime sponsor on a resolution that asks the city to explore the possibility of raising the annual fee for short-term rentals. Currently, Newport charges $100 while neighboring Jamestown, with far fewer short-term rentals, charges $700 annually, Carlin said. 

Carlin said short-term rentals affect the quality of life in Newport and limit available housing.

“We want housing for people who want to raise a family here, who want to retire here, who want to work here or nearby,” Carlin says.

City officials want to examine zoning ordinances because they are concerned some restrictions may be hindering the expansion of affordable housing. 

The median single family home price in Newport is $745,000, according to HousingWorks RI. A two-bedroom apartment averages nearly $1,600 dollars a month. According to HousingWorks, almost 50% of renters are cost-burdened, which means they pay more than 30 percent of their gross income for rent.