Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,
In response to John L Sullivan’s Letter to the Editor on “First Right of Refusal” the city needs more rental units not fewer. Reducing the number of rental units by removing them from the pool will result in fewer rentals, higher demand, escalating rents.
Tenants should think about this and protect their interests. 1st right of refusal is promoted as ‘affordable’ housing – when in reality it will raise rental costs for the majority of Somerville residents. If a tenant can afford to buy the unit at market value, say 550, they not only can compete in an open market, but they don’t meet the threshold of those most in need of assistance.
Some renters have no interest in buying, planning to settle in a different community eventually or in some other cases not knowing where employment will take them. Property owners will be hurt – developers will be hesitant to invest here with all these strings attached – giving up to 120 days for a tenant to purchase.
A developer wont’ wait patiently bypassing other opportunities while keeping their money. They’ll invest elsewhere, say in Medford w/o delays and conditions. Market value is another issue altogether. If a property has conditions attached, there will be fewer prospective buyers, damaging to achieving highest value from the sale and damaging property owners financially.
As far as affordability and displacement, as someone born and brought up here I can speak to this issue. It’s always been the case, where blue collar working class Somervillians, large families, and others could not afford to stay. My family managed to stay by my dad working 2+ full time jobs and my mother working. It’s an age old problem and will continue to be.