Somerville, MA—A crowd of 80 Union Square residents and other Somerville supporters gathered last night to proclaim Union Square as the heart of diversity with their message: “We support an affordable, diverse Somerville: Let’s keep Union Square a place for everyone!” On Wednesday evening, July 11th, at 7pm in front of the SCAT building in Union Square, community members reflecting Somerville’s broad diversity shared their personal stories while holding signs that spelled: E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E-‘-S-S-O-M-E-R-V-I-L-L-E to reinforce a wide-felt desire to make sure Somerville continues to be a tolerant, diverse and affordable community for people of all backgrounds and incomes.
In response to Somerville Community Corporation’s proposal to build affordable rental apartments and commercial space at the former Boys and Girls Club on Washington Street, hundreds of residents have expressed enthusiasm and support for this proposal, with Union Square residents and business owners in particular standing firm in their solidarity to make sure Union Square continues to maintain its diverse identity. Opposition to the project has surprised residents who are proud of Somerville’s welcoming identity, and understand the need to take proactive action to make sure Union Square does not become a place only affordable to people with
- Right now, over 40% of Somerville’s households are considered low or very low income, yet less than 10% of Somerville’s housing stock is dedicated as affordable. (“Low and very low income” are those with income below 80 % of the area median income.
- In SCC’s most recent development at St. Polycarp’s Village, over 1100 families applied for 29 units of affordable rental housing.
- There are about 1800 families on the waiting lists for Somerville Housing Authority rental units. The wait for some of these families could be as long as 15 years.
Costs continue to rise
for Somerville families as landlords and developers increase their rents. One example of changing trends is the recent approval to convert 15 units of affordable rental units into 30 luxury condos in Union Square. The new apartments at Maxwell’s Green next to the proposed stop at Lowell Street will cost $3650-$3700 for a 3 bedroom apartment, compared to $1370 for a 3 bedroom apartment at the proposed 181 Washington Street development.
Supporters affirm that the proposed property development at 181 Washington Street is great for Union Square and the community. Building affordable housing by transit (both existing bus lines and future Green Line stops) reduces traffic, encourages walking, shortens commute time, increases financial stability, allows for people to spend more resources and time investing in the local economy, and reinforces Somerville’s core identity of being a diverse, welcoming, and vibrant community. In all neighborhoods where SCC has built properties, neighboring property values have increased. SCC is committed to working with neighbors to develop state of the art, green buildings that are attractive, community friendly, and affordable.