Somerville- The local building trades unions are asking Clarendon Hill developer Redgate, and its partner, Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH), to come to the table to work together on a new deal that does right by Somerville’s working families. The unions are offering a slate of creative options including a project labor agreement, bridge financing, and counsel on contractor selection, in return for a commitment to pay good, middle-class wages and adhere to crucial worker safety standards. These tenets of responsible development are crucial to building much needed high-quality housing for our neighbors who need it.
The unions are committed to reaching a compromise that will provide both needed affordable housing and good jobs for working families. The unions continue to believe that affordable housing doesn’t have to be financed on the backs of construction workers. We are willing to support this entire project if the competitive bid laws and prevailing wage laws apply to the entire project.
This compromise will benefit both union and nonunion workers. More importantly, it will bring the Clarendon Hill project in compliance with decades-old Massachusetts laws. Competitive bidding laws were put in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars are safe from corruption.
The union offer comes as Somerville residents have increasingly questioned the no-bid deal, as well as two measures up for discussion the the Board of Alderpersons’ meeting Monday. These measures would eliminate Massachusetts laws governing development, including competitive bidding laws, safety standards and inspections, and prevailing wage standards.
The Board of Alderpersons on Monday are considering a Home Rule petition that would enable Redgate to pay workers less than the prevailing wage on their market-rate units. Another proposed measure would offer $10 million to Redgate in exchange for community benefits. This measure also includes a provision which would allow Redgate to perform its own safety inspections.
Housing experts and the media have recently released troubling statistics on the supply and demand of affordable housing. One report, by the highly respected PBS documentary series Frontline, found that between 1997 and 2014, the annual number of affordable housing units built dropped by 16 percent. Meanwhile the annual cost to taxpayers increased 66 percent in tax credits.
The building trades unions are willing to engage in productive negotiations to ensure that the City of Somerville gets the best deal possible for tenants of Clarendon Hill, taxpayers, maximizing affordable units and opportunity for working families.