Earlier this month, the City released a new Comprehensive Affordable Housing Program to address the crisis of affordability in Somerville. The plan includes several ideas that the Affordable Housing Organizing Committee (AHOC) and SCC have been supporting, including a small property acquisition program, strong inclusionary zoning, a real estate transfer tax, and a tax abatement for landlords who keep rents low.
The plan also adopts the figure of 9,000 new housing units needed in Somerville by 2030, as mentioned in MAPC’s Dimensions of Displacement report, up from SomerVision’s 6,000. Additionally, this report calls for 35%, or 3,150, of those units to be affordable. It’s exciting to see AHOC’s recommendations endorsed by the City, but it will take a lot of work to make this a reality and prevent further displacement.
The small properties acquisition program, called the “100 Affordable Homes Strategy” in the City’s program announcement, is something SCC’s real estate team has been working on with the Somerville Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development and others for several months now. We are hopeful to complete putting the funding together to launch this program by late 2014 or early 2015.
AHOC has been campaigning for stronger inclusionary zoning, including 20% affordability and lower parking requirements near transit. We will continue this work and explore how to connect it to other affordable housing strategies. A new new zoning code is expected in November, with a community meeting on affordable housing strategies slated for December to provide a chance to speak specifically about affordable housing needs through zoning. AHOC will also continue to support ordinance 196899, which requires the planning and zoning boards to consider impact on affordable housing to award special permits. The planning board voted not to recommend the ordinance, but the City’s Land Use Committee of the Board of Aldermen (which supported it at a joint public hearing) will take it up later this fall.
AHOC meets the 3rd Thursday of every month, 6-8 pm at SCC. Contact René at 617-776-5931 x226 or email@example.com for more information