Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,
I rent, which means I pay someone else’s mortgage. They gain equity and I gain nothing. They will get an ENORMOUS amount of profit when this crumbling old building is sold and I will get nothing.
Like many renters, I fear complaining about maintenance because the rent could easily go way up and someone would still pay, but this leaves many of us paying exorbitant prices for living conditions that aren’t even up to code, much less worth a luxury price tag. The fact that many of us leave for better opportunity and lower cost is not a justification we are less a part of the community and have less right to be informed. It is a symptom of the problem that we have no voice, no leverage, no recourse and are ultimately left with no options.
I don’t support longtime residents being gouged or priced out and it definitely is not ok to intentionally not inform homeowners. (Although I don’t believe tenants were any more informed about this. I have not been “rounded up by progressive aldermen.”) But when a cheaply renovated condo (half of which is in a basement) sells for $800,000, is a 1% tax on a giant profit margin really a meaningful loss? These days, only people who are very rich or who bought property in the 70’s can afford to live in Somerville.
We need policies that will enable middle and low income people to continue to live in Somerville. I do not know if this tax is the answer, but I would like to see more fact-based analysis of the potential ramifications for everyone in town. (Also, tenants are people too!)