Three public forums will explore housing needs, affordability, gentrification
and strategies for an effective housing
agenda to promote housing for all in Somerville
SOMERVILLE – As more families and individuals seek to remain in Somerville amid market forces that are creating a crunch of affordable and moderate-priced housing across the metro area and in Somerville, the City of Somerville, Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) invite the community to three public forums starting the first week of February to discuss housing issues in the city and to help inform and shape future housing policy.
The forums, titled Housing Roundtables: A Discussion Series on Housing for Families and Individuals in Somerville, will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 4; Tuesday, Feb. 11; and Tuesday, March 4, with each forum starting with registration and refreshments at 5:30 and discussion running from 6 to 8:30 p.m. All meetings will be held at the Argenziano School, 290 Washington St. in Somerville, and will include childcare and interpretation services.
Community members are encouraged to attend any or all of these forums to contribute their thoughts and experiences around housing issues in Somerville and to share their goals for future City housing policy. Staff members from the City, SCC and MAPC will guide the strategy sessions, which will build upon the community’s vision for housing diversity as laid out in SomerVision, the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan.
“Housing costs are rising across the metro area, but in Somerville we will not stand by and let our lower-income families or our working middle class get pushed out. As Somerville’s appeal grows and more people seek to live or stay here, we must protect those who chose Somerville years ago while we also welcome new families who want to plant roots in our community—and to make that happen, we need forward-thinking housing policy,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.
“We’ve been addressing the challenge of keeping housing affordable through a number of initiatives including passage of the Community Preservation Act, the establishment of our Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and by setting our affordable housing requirements far above the state’s benchmark. And currently, we are also working on new initiatives to expand our affordable housing program to working, middle-class families and to create artist and maker districts through zoning that will protect affordable live/work spaces. But we need to do more,” added Mayor Curtatone. “Through these forums, we will tap the wisdom of the community to ensure we continue to pursue bold, effective strategies for addressing the city’s housing needs. Somerville’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths, and we will ensure that we retain that diversity and that Somerville remains a home for all.”
The first meeting on Feb. 4 will feature special guest Rachel Bratt, Professor in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University and Senior Fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. At this forum, the community will discuss what exactly family friendly housing is; what kind of housing does the community need to be able to raise a family in Somerville; how the community can work together to meet those needs; and how to best ensure affordable options for a range of incomes.
The second meeting on Feb. 11 will feature special guest Tim Reardon, MAPC Assistant Director of Data Services and a newly released MAPC report “The Dimensions of Displacement,” developed in partnership with SCC and the City of Somerville over the past two years, which delves into gentrification and displacement in Somerville, particularly along the Green Line corridor. At this forum, the community will discuss what gentrification is and why it happens; how displacement resulting from gentrification has shaped Somerville’s history; and how the community can work together to ensure changes coming to Somerville benefit all segments of the city’s population.
At the third and final meeting on March 4, the analysis and discussion from the first two forums will be used by participants to develop concrete strategies and tools for moving forward with a strong and effective housing agenda for Somerville.
Funding for this project is provided in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Communities Program.