When we describe what SCC does, we say our overarching goal is to preserve and enhance the remaining economic, racial and ethnic diversity of our Somerville population in the face of strong market forces that have displaced many of our neighbors and threaten to displace many more.We say we try to meet that challenge by (1) building and preserving affordable housing; (2) providing Economic Opportunity programs and services aimed at improving the household financial health of low and moderate income residents; and (3) Engaging Somerville residents in community organizing aimed primarily at policies and funding that support housing affordability and jobs access for low and moderate income residents.
Why is this 3rd part – organizing for policies and funding – so important to SCC’s ability to meet its mission? Why can’t we just build housing and provide services? The answer is that, as important and successful as our housing and services work is, we are simply one nonprofit doing as much as we can to help residents with their housing and financial survival. The policy work (a) allows for participation of large numbers of Somerville folks – really anyone who’s interested – to participate in efforts to work collectively to improve economic circumstances for all of us; and (b) provides mechanisms that call upon others in the community – developers and businesses, City officials, other nonprofits, and State leaders – to also contribute to the effort to provide the affordability and diversity that leads to a vibrant Somerville.
Without our policy work, SCC really is just one nonprofit, going at it alone to tackle this monumental challenge. To understand this importance, you need look no further than to imagine Somerville without the hundreds of affordable apartments and condos that have been generated by Inclusionary Housing and Linkage, the value that the Community Preservation Act has brought, and the future value to Somerville workers that will result from the funds generated by Somerville’s Jobs Linkage ordinance. And to emphasize one final point: campaigns to implement these policies are ones that everyone in Somerville can help with – indeed, that’s the only way it happens!