Somerville Speakup Line: We Aren’t Really All In This Together

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!)


One thought on “Somerville Speakup Line: We Aren’t Really All In This Together”

  1. Instead of spreading misinformation about the hardships caused by homeowners to tenants—

    Why doesn’t this board of Aldermen tell the truth about what’s really going on here in our city?

    Developers, for the most part have had free reign to do whatever they wish with properties acquired without few ramifications to their multi-million dollar investments.

    The next issue is the fact the same administration has not fulfilled their promise to build a substantial amount of affordable housing to meet the needs of the many families, individuals including elderly and disabled local residents who must rely on these units in order to remain in Somerville.

    If a homeowner is subjected to $10-20k dollars by the transfer tax, in addition to the constraints imposed by the RIght-of-first-Refusal bill, homeowners will not sell.

    They will instead continue to raise rents according to the city’s steady increases in real estate tax and water/sewer bills.

    Anyone who owns a single or multi unit home in Somerville has been subject to paying upwards of $10k in taxes and $4500 in water/sewer.

    What some tenants fail to comprehend is the homeowners costs for maintaining the home and apartments. In addition to up keep and routine maintenance.

    Contractors are also charging more for repairs and for many business owners their costs rise as well.

    We were promised big ticket commercial revenue for the last 25 years. Cambridge has managed to keep costs down for taxpaying property owners while Somerville does not.

    So again, the blame must go back to the city administration not let the property owners pay for something that could have easily been prevented.

    If anyone should be paying for the tax transfer- it should be the monied suburbanites who flock here as speculators as they did ten years ago and when it was suggested to the BOA, they pick up the cost of transfer tax, not the long time homeowners.

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