Somerville Speakup Line: Where Are the Housing Advocates

Dear Billy T and Somerville Speakup Line,

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!

Tom

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