Affordable Housing Agenda

#1Establish an Office of Housing Stability to provide a full range of professional services to support residents seeking assistance in fighting the increasing threat of displacement and maintaining residency in Somerville.

The Office of Housing Stability will serve as a primary contact for information related to housing services, program assistance, and additional third party resources for Somerville residents concerned about maintaining their current occupancy, applying for affordable housing units or rental assistance, investigating financing opportunities for home ownership, seeking advice during condominium conversion, and other areas of interest. 

Progress:

  • Department created within administration’s framework
  • Director hired

Next steps:

  • Survey best practices, consult with internal and external partners
  • Create operations plan for office  


#2Establish Transfer Charge on Sale of Real Estate to increase funding for the creation and retention of affordable housing.

With extensive input from the community to help define the amount, applicability and appropriate exemptions, an established Transfer Charge on the sale of residential property would be collected by the City and used to create a fund to support affordable housing.

Progress:

  • Extensive dialogue with the community on public policy and programmatic purposes
  • Home Rule Petition passed unanimously by BOA in May 2018

Next steps:

  • Home Rule Petition being forwarded to state legislature for approval

#3Form a Housing Land Trust for Somerville dedicated to the creation and retention of affordable housing that can act quickly and competitively to secure site control of properties, establish permanent controls, and decide upon restrictions for housing affordability in any future development of the properties.

A Housing Land Trust (also called Community Land Trust) is a non-profit, community-based organization dedicated to preserving the affordability of housing by acquiring properties through purchase or donation and establishing effective controls or deed restrictions that run with the property as it is made available for development.

Progress:

  • Community Land Trust Working Group established in May 2018

Next steps:

  • Group will be setting regular meeting times and exploring opportunities for establishing a community land trust in Somerville

#4Revise the Condominium Conversion Ordinance to strengthen the legal protections for occupants of rental units being converted to condos.

Revising the ordinance would improve the process, policies, and protections provided to tenants of units being converted to condominiums, particularly with respect to notification requirements, right-to-purchase, and vacating units prior to sale of property to a third party.

Progress:

  • Administration submitted to BOA in March 2018 a draft Condo Conversion ordinance with enhanced tenant protections to replace the current ordinance 

Next steps:

  • BOA to consider Administration’s proposal

 



#5Re-launch Lead Paint Removal Program to increase the supply of family-sized housing units that are in compliance with lead paint removal requirements.

The City will implement a $2 Million lead paint removal program that provides financial assistance to property owners for the removal of lead paint in properties tenanted by low-and-moderate income residents.

Progress:

  • Re-launch underway

Next steps:

  • Two upcoming meetings to get the word out about available resources

Upcoming information campaign aimed at reaching parents with young children

 



#6Pass Comprehensive Zoning Code to provide stronger, more efficient criteria for project approval that supports and accelerates the development process, particularly in areas of the city that have been designated as transformative districts.

In accordance with state law, the city needs to update its zoning code to reflect the priorities and needs of the city with respect to both residential and commercial development. The new Zoning Code will streamline and clarify the development review process while strengthening protections for the city's legacy neighborhoods.

Progress:

  • BOA Committee on Land Use has been meeting regularly to discuss
  • City Planning Department staff holding regular community meetings

Next steps:

  • Continue discussion with BOA in Land Use Committee on the details of the proposal

 



#7Create an Emergency Rental Stabilization Program to assist low and moderate income tenants facing the risk of displacement due to urgent or unforeseen circumstances transition to a stable housing environment.

Working with community service providers experienced in tenant assistance and anti-displacement strategies, the financial and technical assistance program would provide direct intervention with tenants facing displacement as a result of urgent or unforeseen serious circumstance either to help resolve continue-to-reside issues with the landlord or assist in securing a stable housing alternative.

Progress:

  • Detailed discussions held with partner agencies currently providing assistance

Next steps:

  • Office of Housing Stability and Housing Division staff to draft program recommendation

 



#8Regulate Commercialized Home Sharing to protect supply of rental properties for full-time tenancy and maintain neighborhood stability.

Regulated commercialized home sharing would establish fair and reasonable policies regarding the short-term rental of residential properties examining methods to protect the city’s already limited housing supply while recognizing the need of supplemental of some owner tenants to maintain residency.

Progress:

  • Two community discussions scheduled for June 14th and 21st to discuss options for regulating short-term rentals in Somerville

Next steps:

  • Take public feedback from meetings/letters, submit a draft ordinance to BOA for discussion in committee

#9Create District Improvement Financing (DIF) for Affordable Housing to establish a flexible funding resource to assist in the creation or retention of affordable housing.

The DIF for Affordable Housing would designate the anticipated real estate tax revenue from a specific project or a designated development area to be used as a funding source to finance, subsidize, or secure other funding necessary to develop or retain affordable housing.

Progress:

  • Preliminary discussions regarding funding eligibility held with bond counsel
  • Housing DIF concept included in Clarendon housing redevelopment funding options

Next steps:

  • Further research on financing methodology and applicability to be conducted

#10Implement a Right-to-Purchase Program to prevent displacement of tenants at the time of sale of rental property and provide tenants access to mortgage financing and/or establish relationship with third party community-based purchaser committed to preserving the occupancy by the tenants. 

Enacting state legislation that requires that tenants of properties being sold are given the option to purchase the property at fair market value would help to prevent tenant displacement.

Progress:

  • Administration submitted to BOA in February 2018 a Home Rule Petition to establish a Tenant Right to Purchase.   

Next steps:

  • BOA to consider Administration’s proposal