Somerville Speakup Line:Aldermen Should Team Up With Homeowners on Housing Problem Instead of Hurting Them

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

The aldermen and their bright ideas and proposals they want to place on people’s private property makes being a small landlord untenable. They and everyone in the city is screaming housing crisis, yet no one is engaging property owners about adding on units of housing.  There are plenty of homeowners in RB zones that could add a unit of housing, that could be created quickly and cheaply.

If Mayor Joe wants rental units, why doesn’t he reach out to property owners and offer a no- or low-interest loan to create hundreds of rental units?  If you want to work on solving a housing crisis, why are property owners/landlords not being engaged???  You might want to start talking with people who own property and can effect change rather than sit around with volunteers deciding on how to enact initiatives on those of us who are landlords.

Rents for a unit added onto existing property, that does not have a huge upfront acquisition cost, will create a more affordable rental unit.  The alderman have no right to put constraints on small property owners.

Their ideas are hurting long-time Somerille property owners who invested and stayed here in the city when Somerville was not the desirable place it is today.  If Somerville’s density is so terrible that downzoning is justified, please tell me why it is that everyone wants to be here?  They’re willing to pay high rents just to be here.

The reasons provided for downzoning are not based in reality.  At the same time, the city is still looking to allow greater density but only under their rules and special permits, ADUs, taking away the prospect of a small property owner adding a unit and later selling as condo units.  I am a small property owner – what the city wants to do takes real value away from my property.

The more the City trys to force initiatives on small landlords, the more long term landlords will get fed up and sell that property.  Has anyone given thought to that scenario?  Because every multi-family that gets sold, and which likely had more affordable rental rates, as it gets sold, gets a big fat new mortgage which results in moderate rents becoming expensive rents.  Which helps no one – certainly produces the opposite effect of what is desired.

For every multi-family that gets sold it either gets converted to condos or held as an investment.  The prior owner may have paid $350k for the house.  The new owner is paying $1m which translates into high rents.  Condo conversion is not the evil its made out to be.

If buyers were not buying the product, there wouldn’t be as many condo conversions.  Like it or not, brand new condos sell, to first time buyers – it is a home ownership opportunity.  But Somerville is and will continue to be predominantly rentals – given the transcient nature of this city.  The city proposals interfering with personal properties is anti-rental housing.  Demand for rentals continues to increase at a higher rate than demand for home ownership.

The Board is intent on creating ‘low income’ housing and home ownership, when the vast majority of people in Somerville are desparately in need of more rental units.  Yet no one cares.  No one is working on helping ease the rental market for the masses.  You can’t see the forest for the trees.

The trees are your special interests – without regard as to what makes the most sense for the most people.  Landlords are getting fed up with not being represented and with initiatives being shoved down our throat. For the most part, long term owners have been providing affordable housing, and now the city wants to penalize the very people who have helped, and could help more.

There recently were 37 multi-families on the market. At least some of these property owners were fed up and getting out of the rental business, thanks to the anti-landlord, anti-rental attitudes of the BOA and this Mayor.


2 thoughts on “Somerville Speakup Line:Aldermen Should Team Up With Homeowners on Housing Problem Instead of Hurting Them”

  1. Where are the housing advocates – I guess housing advocates are only focused on ‘low-income’ housing. No one is representing the approx 70% of renters who surely could use more inventory and more moderate rents. Why? Because those people are passing through and not represented by anyone – certainly not Mayor Joe or the Board of Aldermen. The affordable housing trust fund is buying up 2 and 3 families – removing those units from the general rental pool and into the low income housing pool. So units are removed for general population, and what is replacing them? Nothing. There are 1000 properties in RB zones with 1 or 2 units and a lot size big enough to add another unit. But the city wants to overregulate – with special permits and ADU designation, and even tagging any added units for low-income rental purposes. ALL of these ideas hurt the ordinary renters in Somerville, effecting a tightening of the market when units are purchase and designed for low-income purposes. Where are the renters – unfortunately they don’t show up at public hearings because they are just passing through. The city’s initiative will result in fewer general purpose rental units, and continuing escalating rents. Renters should show up at 6 PM on the 30th and express opposition to this new zoning, removing RB, and creating units only by what the City wants – which is lowincome units. There is no reason to change our current zoning. Not the ‘character’ of the neighbor. There are more 3 units in RB than 2 units – so 2 units are the outliers. The 2 units are ‘out of character’! and that’s the truth of the matter. Density? Somerville has always been one of the densest cities – which has not hurt it one bit. Somerville is extremely popular. The real reason for the new zoning, and the ADU’s – is CONTROL by the City. New units that could be created right now would be more afffordable. It would support revenue to the city in the form of permits, and higher assessments = higher tax revenue. A property owner should be able to continue to add a 3rd unit, by Right, in RB zones. The City is running its own agenda – and is hurting the inventory available to the ordinary renter. Show up and speak up!

  2. There is this thing called supply and demand. The solution is we need more housing units. There are existing, standing structures, and backyards which could be converted into housing units.

    If the city continues to increase property taxes, and water / sewer bills – the costs will continue to be passed along in higher housing costs for all.

    This city and other cities should be working with landlords who are keeping their places as rentals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.