Follows $1.2M in funding for affordable housing
SOMERVILLE – This month, the Somerville Board of Aldermen approved and allocated more than $8.3 million in Community Preservation Act funding to ten open space and historic preservation projects and the 100 Homes Initiative, upon the recommendation of the Somerville Community Preservation Committee (CPC). The Aldermen previously approved the CPC’s recommendation to provide $1,200,402 to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund in March.
The funded projects will bring more units of affordable housing and improvements to historic treasures in Somerville including the Elizabeth Peabody House and Prospect Hill Park. CPA will also support design processes for Dilboy Auxiliary Fields, the Brown and West Somerville Neighborhood schoolyards, and the Blessing of the Bay Park along Shore Drive. The Community Growing Center received funds to implement the design they completed with CPA funding. Funding was also awarded for the first open space acquisition through the CPA at the 5 Palmer parcel, which will add to the Capuano Early Childhood Center schoolyard/Glen Park.
“This year the CPC has made a major commitment to increase the stock of affordable housing in Somerville through recommending the 100 Homes bond,” said CPC Chairperson Michael Fager. “We are also working to improve the recreational opportunities in Somerville and to increase open space in Somerville, a goal for which we hope to make greater strides as we continue through our application and appropriation cycles.”
The 100 Homes Initiative, implemented by the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC), was awarded $6 million that will be funded through a bond. Under the initiative, SCC buys multifamily homes, removing them from the speculative market and making them perpetually affordable. To date, the project has acquired 45 units in ten buildings. These homes have preserved 23 tenancies, including five that were in danger of losing units supported with Section 8 vouchers. Five units are designated for homeless households. The $6 million bond will be used to retire a $4.4 bridge loan that was used to purchase 27 units. The remaining $1.6 million will be used for future purchases. SCC anticipates this will purchase approximately nine units, estimating an average per unit subsidy of $173,000. Using very conservative estimates, the debt service on the $6 million bond will be 17.5% of the annual CPA surcharge revenue, not including any state match funds or additional funding for CPA from the City, which we receive each year. This percentage will decrease over time as the surcharge revenue increases. Since FY15, the Community Preservation Committee has allocated a minimum of 45% of CPA revenue for affordable housing.
Including these projects, the Community Preservation Act has supported a total of 55 affordable housing, historic resources, and open space/recreation land projects through award of over $21 million since its adoption in 2012. This includes $2.5 million in matching funds from the state. Of these funds, 48% has gone to affordable housing, 29% to open space/recreational land, and 23% has gone to historic resources. As a result of these projects, 78 new units of affordable housing are being created, 0.04 new acres of open space are being created, nine historic buildings and three historic collections are being preserved, five historic buildings are being made more accessible, and seven open spaces are being improved. These projects range from stabilizing the Prospect Hill Tower to repaving the Community Path to improving schoolyard garden classrooms in each of Somerville’s community schools to converting the historic Mystic Water Works building to affordable housing.
“In the five years since Somerville’s adoption of the CPA, our program has become a leader in the state and we have seen a real difference in our community,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We have expanded access to and the availability of affordable housing. We can now take in the sunset from the top of Prospect Hill Tower and explore a restored Milk Row Cemetery. We are enjoying the repaved Community Path from Grove St. to Cedar St. and are looking forward to seeing the Path west of Davis Square paved later this year. Historic buildings that are home to organizations that provide important social services are receiving much needed improvements. I want to thank the CPC and the community for their input and recommendations on how to prudently and wisely spend this funding and to the Board of Aldermen for their support of CPA.”
For more information on the CPA, sign up for the CPA Email Newsletter by visiting the City’s website at www.somervillema.gov/cpa and clicking “Sign Up Now for CPA News.”