The Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) is dedicated to creating equity through affordable housing, economic opportunity, and community empowerment for a vibrant, diverse, and tolerant Somerville. True economic opportunity and social justice require long- term resolve and investment to turn communities of exclusion and disadvantage into communities of opportunity and equity. SCC’s work is the foundation of that investment. We help our neighbors find local jobs with living wages, and secure a sustainable place to live, either as residents of our affordable housing or by realizing their dream of owning a home. SCC’s work is part of a comprehensive vision for community investment using a range of equity levers, such as sustainable housing, wages and income, workforce development and employment, and education and training pathways. We take an abolitionist stance on poverty and believe a stable home and living wage job are the foundation upon which all else is built. Through housing, community development, and economic opportunity, we aim to achieve a more equitable and just city. We aim to “coproduce” alongside economically marginalized residents and develop a strong collaborative decision-making model, as well as reemphasize our bottom-up, resident-driven foundations. We advocate a long-term approach to amplify resident voices and legitimize residents as active participants and knowledge holders. We utilize an inclusive and adaptive approach to deconstructing the inequities that often stymie sustained community power.
We have made a great effort to ensure SCC has a board and staff that reflect the communities we serve. We recruit board members from among our residents and aim to hire from among our program participants. Our staff composition is 75% BIPOC and our Board composition is 65% BIPOC. We maintain an inclusive leadership team and a diverse pipeline of consultants and external vendors. Additionally, SCC is an affordable housing organization led by a formerly homeless CEO, and staff members at all levels have experienced housing and economic instability. Not only do these experiences drive the passion and dedication of our team, but it is meaningful to the residents we serve that staff can relate to some of the stresses and challenges they are facing. Residents and program participants can see themselves in SCC staff members who were hired from our job training program, board members who live in the same building, and by our CEO, Director of Development, and Recertification Specialist, all of whom overcame housing insecurity to have successful careers.
We have also committed to the Massachusetts Association of CDC’s Racial Equity Pledge, a roadmap with actionable steps toward improved racial equity, created an internal DEI Working Group, and recently received ARPA funding to spearhead a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Justice nonprofit leadership coalition. This coalition will support education and race dialogue sessions with Somerville agencies to provide shared vocabulary and understanding to foster ease with race dialogue across organizations. The coalition will also run monthly roundtables of BIPOC affinity groups and support the development of a BIPOC professional network. The learnings from this coalition will inform the decision-making processes and policies of the Board, staff, and partnering nonprofits, and train the staff and Board to think strategically around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and become leaders in this dialogue.
We are very proud of these accomplishments supporting diverse representation, equity, and inclusion at SCC. However, we do not believe that systemic racism can be combated by diversity programs alone, to the exclusion of economic equity. Our work of affordable housing, career coaching, financial literacy, and asset building programs is critical concrete action against historic, current, and systemic discrimination through improving the material conditions of people of color and, more broadly, the marginalized.