SCC is committed to preserving and producing housing that is affordable to all segments of the population in Somerville, both through our own work in real estate development and by influencing municipal policies that result in more affordable housing. This is one of the most fundamental means of helping low income families live in Somerville, and of keeping our community inclusive and diverse. Click to learn about how our Affordable Housing Organizing Committee (AHOC) is currently leading these efforts.
Recent reports utilizing American Community Surveys data show that 43% of Somerville residents are classified as cost burdened, as they pay more than 35% of their income on housing (1/6 of the population is considered severely cost burdened, paying over 50% of their income on housing). This number is even higher for the two-thirds (67%) of households that are renters; nearly half whom (44%) are considered burdened by housing costs. This means that almost 9,000 households, one-third of our city, is housing cost-burdened.
With the City of Somerville facing unprecedented transformation in the next several years, we are presented with both great challenges in maintaining affordability and avoiding social displacement as well as rich opportunities to become an even better place to live if managed well. The City’s Comprehensive Plan – SomerVision – projects 30,000 new jobs, 6,000 new housing units (with 1,200 of them permanently affordable) and 125 new acres of publicly available open space in the next 20 years. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council projects 74% job growth in Somerville compared to 8% growth in the region. Over 10 million square feet of new commercial and residential development is anticipated. The $1.2 Billion Green Line Extension will be built out, adding five new light rail stations in Somerville and two additional stations on Somerville’s border. Assembly Square has seen and anticipates unprecedented growth – 450 units of new housing, 500,000 square feet of retail and office space, and the new Orange Line MBTA station.
Through our organizing, planning and real estate development work, SCC is pursuing or has accomplished the following actions to impact Somerville, and in particular, the low-income community, by raising necessary capital to acquire and develop affordable housing; establishing new city policies resulting in a higher number of family sized units for low and moderate-income residents, and preserving existing affordable housing for renters and owners:
- Develop partnerships with other quality developers (for-profit and nonprofit) to enable SCC to increase acquisition, financing and production of affordable housing in Somerville.
- Create a small property (2-4 family) acquisition and moderate rehabilitation homeownership program with the City of Somerville, by SCC and/or interested private parties, to secure 15 to 20 affordable homeownership and rental units annually.
- Establish permanent and working capital for acquisition and to leverage favorable borrowing terms.
- Acquire expiring use properties, or work with tenants to encourage landlords to renew expiring use contracts.
- Organize and create policies that promote affordability for public disposition properties and increase inclusionary zoning requirements, especially focusing on family-sized units, and deeper affordability.
- Cultivate additional new sources of funding support for affordable housing, such as through the City’s newly adopted Community Preservation Act (CPA).