In This Issue
181/197 Washington Street Gets Approved
March 27th Jobs Readiness Night
LDI 2014
Save Our Homes: May 18th
Register for April First-Time Homebuyer Class
Results of Housing Workshop #3
SCC Receives Community Investment Tax Credits
First Source Launched
Union Square Master Developer Presentations
Gentrification & Affordability in the News
New Financial Education Class Begins in March
SCC/Cathartes Revised Proposal for 181-197 Washington Street

We are pleased to announce that on March 6th, the Somerville Planning Board unanimously approved the revised SCC/Cathartes joint proposal for redevelopment of 181 and 197 Washington Street in Union Square. While some key elements of the original proposal have changed, no overall units were lost and we will still be providing a total of 35 quality affordable homes in one the most rapidly gentrifying parts of our city. 

SCC Jobs Readiness Night:
Thursday, March 27th


On Thursday, March 27th, SCC will be hosting a Jobs Readiness Night for all Somerville job seekers at our office! Meet with a Comprehensive Intake Specialist to get help with your resume, interview preparation, job search, and a lot more!


Along with the intake, you can attend a workshop on  job readiness and have the  chance to be added to our Jobs Bank to hear about Somerville jobs before they are made available to the general public.


Please register in advance: contact Jorge Colon, 617-776-5931 x232 to guarantee your spot.

Emerging Community Leaders!

2014 Leadership Development Institute (LDI) Begins


This year's Leadership Development Institute is in full swing and we are already so proud of the seventeen emerging community leaders undergoing the course. Representing native countries as diverse as the Dominican Republic, Haiti, El Salvador, and Morocco, this year's  group of leaders are well on their way to developing  the skills to make positive change in Somerville and beyond.

For more information about LDI, click  here or contact Rene Mardones, 617-776-5931 x226

Save the Date!

2014 Save Our Homes Walk: May 18th


This year's Save Our Homes Walk will take place on Sunday, May 18th from 2-4 pm! Together with The Somerville Homeless Coalition, our goal for the 11th Annual Save Our Homes Walk is to raise $30,000 in targeted grants to help people with security deposits, back rent, utility bills, and moving costs related to stabilizing  housing. Read More


Registration Open:
April First-Time 
Homebuyer Class 
Sign up NOW for SCC's First-Time Homebuyer Class in April 2014! 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 pm on 
April 8
th, 10
th, 15
th, and 17th.
A complete 2014 class calendar can be viewed on our website. For more information or to register, please contact Shannon.
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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Cold weather continues in Somerville, but that hasn't turned the heat down on SCC's efforts to bring more local jobs to Somerville, connect residents to those opportunities, and engage our community in addressing housing affordability challenges which have continued to generate headlines. This month, we also received the fantastic news that we have been awarded over $200,000 in Community Investment Tax Credits to support community development in Somerville in 2014 and 2015!


~From all of us at SCC, thank you for your support!~ 

Community Convening:

Housing Workshop #3 Poses Strategies to 

Keep Somerville Affordable & Diverse


This month wrapped up our successful three-part series of interactive community workshops on housing issues in Somerville which we co-hosted with the City of Somerville and Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). After discussing the housing challenges particularly related to families in Somerville on February 4th and the potential impacts of gentrification and social displacement as a result of the Green Line Extension on February 11th, participants had the chance on March 4th to put their heads together and prepare for action through strategies that support a diverse, affordable Somerville for everyone.
 At the March 4th forum, community leaders shared the housing issues that emerged during discussions at the previous two forums, and then attendees participated in small groups to prioritize those issues and explore strategies and best practices to tackle them.    


Issues of Top Concern:
  • General housing stability (fear of being pushed out)
  • General need for more affordability
  • Role of speculation in driving up prices   
  • Need for more middle income housing
  • Need for more family housing

Prioritized Solutions:

  • Improving Inclusionary Zoning
  • Requirements for family-sized housing
  • Public disposition of properties, for family sized housing 
  • Community Land Trusts, to address need for more low income housing 
  • Lower parking requirements, to address need for space to build 
  • Real Estate Transfer Tax to address speculation 

It was made evident by both the high level of participation (over 75 people attended each workshop!) and dynamic discussions that there is a fervent desire among our community to maintain Somerville's diversity, vibrancy, and sense of community in the face of current and future neighborhood change. We know that gentrification is happening in Somerville and are committed to crafting a strategic approach that welcomes the good- such as new transit and businesses- while mitigating the bad- namely displacement. 


If you haven't  yet, be sure to check out the recently released MAPC/SCC/Somerville report, " Managing Change in Somerville: The Dimensions of Displacement".  MAPC's Managing Neighborhood Change: Selected Anti-Displacement Strategies in Practice toolkit also provides an overview of anti-displacement strategies implemented across the country and an analysis of the results they've yielded.

Stay tuned for next steps- and email Karen Narefsky  to get involved with our Affordable Housing Organizing Committee (AHOC) today.


Read more about this workshop and check out the pics on Facebook!



Investing in Somerville!

SCC Awarded Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC) 


On Tuesday, March 4th, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein announced SCC as one of 38 community organizations across the Commonwealth to receive awards through the state's new Community Investment Tax Credits (CITC).


Created in 2012 through the Jobs Bill signed by Governor Patrick, the CITC program provides 50% tax credits for donations to certified Community Development Corporations in Massachusetts to increase the capacity to boost housing and economic activities in their communities. 


SCC was awarded $80,000 in tax credits for 2014 and $125,000 in credits for 2015, allowing us to offer personal and corporate donors giving $1,000 or more each a 50% credit on their state taxes.

SCC was one of only 16 CDCs statewide to be awarded credits for both 2014 and 2015!


"SCC is thrilled to have been awarded this new opportunity to attract private investment in the critical work we're doing to connect Somerville people to affordable housing and local jobs, building and sustaining the very fabric of the community we want here in Somerville," said Danny LeBlanc, SCC CEO. "It will enable SCC to help Somerville families take full advantage of the opportunities flowing from all the new development coming to our community." Read More


Introducing SCC's First Source Program for Good, Local Jobs in Somerville:
Assembly Square Jobs Fair & Workforce Development Program


Local jobs are coming to Somerville and we want to make sure the people who need them most are prepared and informed! This spring, SCC hit the ground running to launch a Local Jobs First Source model to connect Somerville workers with Somerville jobs. That's why we now have a Career Counselor on staff and are planning a Jobs Readiness Night for later this month (3/27).


Over the first 2 weekends in March, several SCC staff, board members and Jobs for Somerville members helped register 500 Somerville residents at the Assembly Square jobs fairs held at the East Somerville Community School. This event occurred just on the heels of our signed and returned contract with the City of Somerville to design and launch a First Source hiring program to train and connect Somerville residents with local jobs! 


We are also putting the finishing touches on our partnership with the City and The Career Place for the Working Cities Challenge program grant towards reducing unemployment among low-income youth by creating new, youth-targeted workforce development systems infused with mobile technology and social media. 


Redeveloping Union Square: 

Developers Present Visions, SCC Questions Affordability


On Tuesday evenings throughout the month of March, The Union Square Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) and Somerville Redevelopment Authority- along with dozens of community residents and stakeholders- heard from the nine developers who responded to the city's RFQ for a master developer for Union Square. Each of the teams presented their portfolios and brainstormed about improving Union Square in ways that preserve and enhance what is beloved about the neighborhood while infusing it with significant amounts of new commercial and resident development.


SCC staff and members have attended each presentation (Real Estate Director Scott Hayman sits on the CAC Committee) and posed explicit questions about the developers' intentions to ensure that local jobs and affordable housing are included as key outcomes of their plans.


David Dixon with the Magellan Development Group posed the question himself: "How do we use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure we do this community building with no social displacement?..Two million square feet with 12.5 percent affordable housing will raise affordability issues."


Most of the teams referred to the city's SomerVision plan as their driving force for creating mixed-use, transit-oriented development with an emphasis on public art, pedestrian friendliness and community spaces, and many of placed particular emphasis on diverse housing. All have promised to work directly with the community as the driving force for redeveloping Union Square.

Read more

Making Headlines: 
Gentrification & Affordability in a Changing Somerville

 Participants of the SCC/MAPC/City of Somerville housing workshops aren't the only ones concerned about  gentrification in Somerville and its implications on affordability and displacement. 

On February 27th, Mayor Curtatone wrote in his weekly column for The Somerville Times about the urgent need for a regional approach; "...beyond what we must do and are doing as a community to address this issue, other communities must also do their part. The rising cost of housing is not an issue that stops at our borders...Every city and town in the region needs a real housing policy and higher thresholds for affordable housing."  

Not long after, on March 4th, an op-ed was published in The Boston Globe about the collisions of "Gentrification vs Growth in Union Square", arguing that a significant increase in overall housing production is crucial to maintaining affordability:  "Somerville's residents and planners have already put in years laying the zoning groundwork that will allow the city to use the Green Line to make big, exciting things happen, while cushioning gentrification pressures. Now it's up to neighborhood residents to let developers follow through".


The Somerville Journal then published an article about the severe shortfall of affordable units in Somerville. Recognizing that approximately one third of the Somerville population- or 9,000 people- is already cost burdened (paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs), the 3,400 existing subsidized units (10% of the city's housing stock) are not nearly enough to meet the growing demand.


Want to get involved in efforts to increase opportunities for affordable housing in Somerville? Join SCC's Affordable Housing Organizing Committee (AHOC)! Contact Karen to inquire. 

Jumpstart Your Finances in 2014!
SCC's Financial Education Course Begins March 24th

We are excited to announce our first financial education class at SCC for the 2014 year! Over the course of four weeks, participants will gain important information and skills to help them navigate their financial lives more successfully. While this course that starts at the end of March is full, we are having two more series in July and November. For more information about the classes or to get on the list for a later class, check our website or contact Shannon Erb at (617) 776-5931 x238. 

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