The City of Somerville is currently seeking applicants for a newly created Fair Housing and Anti-Displacement Task Force to explore whether, and how, to incorporate principals of federal, state, and local fair housing and anti-discrimination laws into Somerville’s Zoning Code.
This is a volunteer effort, and the aim of this initiative would be to determine whether zoning changes might help to mitigate the displacement of persons of color, immigrants, low- and moderate-income residents, persons with disabilities, and members of other protected classes that may result from new development. This task force will include City of Somerville staff from the Office of Housing Stability, Housing Division, Mayor’s Office, Planning and Zoning Division, and the Racial and Social Justice Department; one or more members of the City Council; and members of the community selected to participate. The task force will have up to 14 members.
Areas of inquiry to be examined by the task force:
Identifying historical patterns of discrimination in housing on the basis of race, source of income, disability, national origin, or other protected classes within the City of Somerville.
The impact of development on displacement within the city and region.
Analyzing data on rental housing costs (including utilities, parking, and other amenities) and home sale prices and its correlation to displacement and fair housing concerns.
Identifying a range of anti-displacement measures that developers could use to prevent displacement and/or increase access to housing for persons in protected classes.
Making recommendations to the Mayor, City Council, and Planning and Zoning Boards on whether to implement changes and next steps toward implementation.
Duration and time commitment:
We anticipate the task force will meet monthly for up to twelve months. Members will also be expected to attend subcommittee meetings and perform some work between meetings.
Qualifications: We are seeking community members that either live or work in Somerville and who are representative and inclusive of persons of color, immigrants, Section 8 voucher holders, persons with disabilities, or other persons with lived experience of housing instability and/or discrimination. We are also seeking members who have technical experience relevant to housing issues.
Examples of personal experience include:
Currently living in public or subsidized housing
Having experienced housing discrimination based on race, disability, national original, gender, religion, or other protected classes
Having faced housing instability or had difficulty finding adequate housing in Somerville
Examples of technical experience include:
Having experience with housing and/or homelessness challenges, policies, and programs
Having experience with fair housing issues including but not limited to disability, accessibility, and reasonable accommodation
Having experience with zoning regulations, policy, and/or history
Having participated in community organizing and/or neighborhood planning processes
Having experience as a nonprofit and/or for-profit housing developer
Working at a housing related non-profit in the City of Somerville
Deliverable: The task force will generate a report including recommendations for consideration by the City Council and Mayor. It is anticipated that the Task Force may contract for consultant services to generate some or all of the necessary data and/or for the drafting of this report. In addition, it is anticipated that members of the task force may provide draft zoning language recommendations and other draft administrative procedures.
Application Process: Interested applicants should submit a resume and/or letter describing their interest and experience along with brief answers to the questions below to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please contact Bryant Gaspard at email@example.com if you have any clarifying questions or need assistance with the application process. Applications are due by August 13, 2021. Applications can also be delivered to Ellen Shachter or Bryant Gaspard at the City Hall Annex, 50 Evergreen Avenue, Somerville, MA 02145.
Questions for applicants:
Why is it important for you to participate in this task force?
Please explain which of the eligibility criteria above you meet and how.
Do you have any additional experiences that you think will add a new perspective to the task force?
What is your understanding of Somerville’s housing crisis?
In your opinion, what are one to two things that would assist low- and moderate-income residents, residents of color, immigrants, and/or residents with disabilities to stay housed in Somerville?
The City of Somerville does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, national origin, disability or any other protected category. Auxiliary aids and services, written materials in alternative formats, and reasonable modifications in policies and procedures will be provided to qualified applicants and employees with disabilities free of charge, upon request.
Persons with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication (i.e., CART, ASL), written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures in order to access the programs, activities, and meetings of the City of Somerville should please contact Nancy Bacci at 617-625-6600 x 2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.