In This Issue
Planning Board Approved Housing Linkage Fee Increase
Somerville "Great Neighborhoods" Tour 10/29
New Community Preservation Committee Members Announced
Welcome New SCC Members!
A Story About 181 Washington Street
1st Time Homebuyer Class Starts 12/3
Homestretch for RaiseUp Massachusetts Campaign
SCC & MassDOT Trip to Denver
Workshop Confronts Gentrification & Displacement
Applications Available for Saint Polycarp III
SCC Voices: Displacement is a Threat to 'Villlens Old & New"
Approved! Planning Board Votes to Increase Housing Linkage Fee 

At a public hearing on October 21,the Somerville Planning Board voted to approve the proposed increase in the city's affordable housing linkage fee from $3.91 to $5.15 per square foot and to make sure it applies to all commercial developments!


Members of SCC's Affordable Housing Organizing Committee (AHOC) and Jobs for Somerville testified about the need for more affordable housing in Somerville, which was very powerful. Thanks to Louise Marks and Catie Ferrera for sharing your stories! 


The next step is a vote from the Land Use Committee. They are meeting on Tuesday, November 19 at 6:30 pm at City Hall. Let's show up and make sure they do!


Great Neighborhoods Network Learning Journey: 
Somerville Tour 10/29

What does it take to implement equitable transit oriented development effectively? Together with our partners at Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance, Groundwork Somerville, Friends of The Community Path, and Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership, we were proud to lead an exploration and trolley tour of how smart growth has played out-including challenges and opportunities- here in Somerville. Thanks everyone for the great discussions!

Read more and see photos from this exciting learning journey

Just Anounced:

New Community Preservation Committee Members

Congratulations to the 4 newly selected members of the Somerville Community Preservation CommitteeLast year, SCC led the "Invest in Somerville" campaign with a strong coalition of partners, including Mayor Curtatone, to pass the Community Preservation Act (CPA) in Somerville on the 2012 ballot by over 70%.  The coalition continued to play an instrumental role in shaping a first-in-the-state public process for selecting the 4 resident positions on the 9 person Community Preservation Committee. This included an open call for applicants, public review of applicants, and an interview and recommendations process led by a selection committee comprised of city staff and community members from the CPA committee. Read more 

Welcome New Members!

SCC Open House Nov.7th

Welcome to our new members! SCC hosted a successful open house on Thursday 11/7 for new and prospective members to check out our office, meet us in person, and get connected to some of the exciting projects and classes we have brewing. Thanks to our friends at The Welcome Project for bringing one of their classes to the event- we are happy to have you in our network!


Interested in becoming an SCC member? Click here!

A Story About 

181 Washington Street: 

How SCC is Building an Inclusive Community in Union Square


 In early 2012, SCC purchased a vacant and structurally deficient brick building from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Middlesex County located just outside the heart of bustling and "up and coming" Union Square, Somerville.  In a part of the city where property values had already skyrocketed nearly 150% since 2005 and two new planned Green Line stations promise to significantly boost housing demand, this was a unique opportunity to preserve affordability for existing Somerville residents who might otherwise find themselves priced out of the city. Read More....

Next First-Time Homebuyer Class Starts 12/3

Sign up NOW for SCC's First-Time Homebuyer Class in December 2013! The four-session, 12-hour class will feature presentations by a real estate agent, a lender, a home inspector, a real estate attorney, and an insurance agent, in addition to SCC staff, and it will teach you everything you need to know before you start the process of buying your first home. Upon completion of the course, participants receive a certificate that enables them to access products geared specifically towards first-time homebuyers, such as SoftSecond. The class will be conducted in English from 6 to 9:00 p.m. on December 3rd, 5th, 10th and 12th
The registration fee is $35 per participant; you must send in your registration form and fee before the first class in order to be enrolled. To register, please contact Shannon Erb at (617) 776-5931 ext 238 or ASAP.
Ongoing Meetings
Our many groups and committees meet regularly and are usually open to newcomers! Please click on the calendar image below to see the what's happening this month!
12.09 Elizabeth Peabody


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 As we near the end of 2013 and enter the time of year in which we give thanks to all our blessings, we at SCC are already feeling pretty thankful. Not only have we welcomed nearly 50 new members this fall, we are now getting ready to welcome 31 Somerville families to our new green affordable apartments at Saint Polycarp Village Phase 3! But before the year comes to a wrap, we look forward to completing our work with the RaiseUp Massachusetts Coalition to land raising the minimum wage and earned sick time on the ballot in 2014 and to securing a contract with MassDOT to ensure local hiring provisions for Somerville workers as the Green Line Extension comes to town.
~From all of us at SCC, we are thankful for YOU!~ 
Homestretch for RaiseUp Massachusetts!
 200,000+ Signatures Collected to Raise the Minimum Wage & 
Provide Earned Sick Time

 October and  November have been strong months for us and our partners at the

Raise Up Massachusetts Coalition! We've now collected over 225,000 signatures to put two important ballot initiatives before voters in 2014:

  1. Measure H: Raise the State Minimum Wage
  2. Measure G: Earned Sick Time for Workers 

While this is an enormous accomplishment, we need almost 70,000 certified signatures on each petition, and we want a substantial margin of error to guard against challenges once petitions reach the Secretary of State. That means we still need to collect close to 14,000 certified signatures before the state deadline of Wednesday, November 20th. Can you help?   Email Karen or Rene to sign up for a signature gathering shift, or to pick up petitions to share with your networks. 


Read Emily's story about the huge impact that earned sick time would have on her family.

Tweet to @RaiseUpMa and @SCC_Somerville using #EarnedSickTime and #RaiseTheWage!
SCC & MassDOT Venture to Denver!
Trip This Week to Seek Examples for a "GLX Workforce Initiative Now" 


In July, SCC's Jobs for Somerville members met with MassDOT Secretary Richard Davey and MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott. Our ask: the creation of an  Access and Opportunity Committee to make sure that Somerville workers are trained and hired on a significant percentage of Green Line Extension jobs. We are working out the details of an MOU that will provide the framework for this committee and bring important stakeholders including Jobs for Somerville, the Boston Building Trades, MassDOT, and the general contractor to the table. 

Davey and Scott were very excited about our idea and expanded on it; they proposed a "GLX Workforce Initiative Now (GLX WIN)," based on an existing program in Denver.
The Denver program, known as WIN, has received grants from the Federal Transportation Authority and placed over 100 Denver residents in construction jobs. 


A delegation from SCC and Jobs for Somerville are currently joining representatives of MassDOT and the MBTA on a trip to Denver this week! CEO Danny LeBlanc, organizer Karen Narefsky, and JFS member Kelvin Mejia are going to represent SCC as a community stakeholder and a service provider. We want to learn about how the WIN program works in Denver and how we could adapt it to the Somerville context, making sure that meaningful community participation is a part of the project. The trip will also help us to define the role that SCC will play in the intake and placement part of the process. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for photos from this trip!


Confronting Gentrification & Displacement in Somerville:
SCC Workshops Explore the Facts


Did you know that 40% of Somervilleans are living in housing that is not affordable to them (meaning they pay more than 1/3 of their income on housing costs? And that, historically, transit expansion (like the MBTA Red Line to Davis Square) has led to exponential rises in rents and condo conversions in Somerville? These are some of the findings that participants in SCC's 2013 Leadership Development Institute (LDI) Fall Series had a chance to analyze during two workshops in October titled "Gentrification & Displacement".


Over the course of two evenings, participants in these workshops learned about the realities of income levels versus housing costs in Somerville, and used new data from MAPC to explore how trends in development and population might be leading to a new wave of displacement driven by gentrification in our community. As the Green Line makes its way to Union Square and high end development takes shape at Assembly Square and throughout the city, what can we do to confront displacement in Somerville and ensure that our community remains a diverse and affordable place for everyone? Workshop participant Lauren Shuffleton shares her thoughts and experiences in these workshops in a new blog entry, which we are please to share in this newsletter below.


Check out the photos from these engaging workshops on Facebook! If you are interested in attending the full session of SCC's Leadership Development Institute this spring, contact Rene Mardones


New Affordable Homes in Somerville!
Applications Now Available for Saint Polycarp Phase 3

Applications are currently being accepted for the 31 new affordable apartments at SCC's Saint Polycarp Village Phase 3! Just 8 months after a most celebratory groundbreaking in February 2013 (at which a 60+ year old time capsule was revealed from the walls of the former school building!), we are thrilled to welcome 31 new and existing Somerville households to the 1, 2, & 3 bedroom apartments available for income qualified applicants and Section 8 voucher holders.


Saint Polycarp Phase 3 is the third and final component of Saint Polycarp Village at 480 Mystic Avenue in Somerville, now providing a total of 84 energy efficient, green affordable homes for working families and vulnerable individuals in Somerville. The newly developed site features include green space, a green roof, a property management office, and partially exposed underground parking, as well as a playground and a community room that was built with Phase II.


Applications are available through December 20th and can be picked up at Linden Street Apartments, 26 Linden Street in Somerville, Mon-Fri between 9:00-4:00 pm. There will be information sessions held on December 3rd from 6-7 pm at the Mystic Learning Center in Somerville. For more information, please call 617-591-0577.


SCC Voices: 
"Displacement a Threat to 'Villens Old & New"
 By, Lauren Shuffleton (SCC Member and LDI Workshop Participant)

I took SCC's Gentrification & Displacement class because I wanted to learn about this city that's been such a good home to me over the last year and a half and because I wanted to better understand my role in the forces at work in Somerville. 


Gentrification, at its core, is about the churn of different demographics of people. As a community gains notoriety for being a good place to live, outsiders move in and settle down. As the reputation continues to improve, higher income earners move in, stores begin to reflect the wealthier clientele, housing demand exceeds supply, and soon the original locals, who probably did the work to make the area as attractive as it is, are forced elsewhere. As one class member eloquently put it, "communities are turned into profit-making machines."


As Somerville has become more "cool," prices for people who live here-and who have lived here, perhaps for decades-have increased in tandem.   

What I learned at SCCs class was that nearly 40% of Somerville residents are not living in housing that is affordable to them. That means that 2/5 of all 'Villens pay more than 1/3 of their incomes on housing costs. 


At numbers as staggering at that, it's clear that this is a problem that effects everyone-not just those in the smaller income brackets. Of course, for those who are low income earners, the reality is even more daunting: of the already limited stock that would be financially viable for low income families, most of the waiting lists have been closed since 2001.


  I already knew that I had been immeasurably lucky to have the contacts, job security, and citizenship documents I needed to find housing I could afford in Somerville before I saw these numbers. But the class reminded me that I have no reason to think my luck is going to last: you see, my neighborhood is set to become a public transit heaven by 2018. Nestled in between the future Lowell St. and Ball Square Green Line stops, my area is slated for a renaissance, similar to what happened in Davis Square after the Red Line came through in 1984.


The prospect of not needing to wait for a bus in the winter is an exciting one, but the data we explored in class points to an impending danger. While my neighborhood is now on par with Somerville as a whole in terms of socioeconomic and racial diversity, a quick glance at the trends in Davis Square show what to expect when the GLX arrives: the area I call home will become whiter, richer, and less diverse. The reasons I moved here-the diversity, the families, the affordability-will likely dissipate.


I don't know how to enable Somerville to benefit from the amazing development that has been happening without displacing people-unfortunately, SCC's class didn't have all the answers, although it sure did ask the right questions-but I do know that everyone wants to be part of a community, not a cog in a profit-making machine. Hopefully Somerville as a whole-both newcomers and proper 'Villens alike-will find a way to stay connected and true to itself as these big changes come to town.


* Data & figures cited in this article are from Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) in a soon-to-be-released report on displacement in Somerville



As always, we appreciate feedback.  Be sure to join us on Facebook & Twitter for the most current info on what we're up to and how to get involved. We look forward to seeing and hearing from you soon! 

Daniel LeBlanc
Somerville Community Corporation