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Contact Information
Ellen Shachter
Director, Office of Housing Stability

Monday - Wednesday
8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.

8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


(617) 625-6600  ext 2581

Referral Form

Formulario de Referido

Formulário de Encaminhamento

Fòm Referans


50 Evergreen Ave.
Somerville, MA 02145
United States

Employee Directory

Referrals to OHS

The Office of Housing Stability (OHS) is open Monday-Wednesday, 8:30-4:30; Thursday, 8:30-7:30, and Friday, 8:30-12:30. OHS serves all Somerville residents, landlords, and property owners, regardless of income or language spoken. If you or a client you are working with have a question or need further assistance, please fill out the referral intake form completely.

Need special assistance?

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 Adrienne Pomeroy in advance at 617-625-6600 x 2059 or


About Us

Direct Services:

Currently, the Office of Housing Stability offers the following direct services:

  • Help accessing financial assistance for rent, mortgage arrears, and start-up rental costs.
  • Case management to help stabilize tenancies.
  • Housing search services including applications for affordable housing and Section 8 vouchers.
  • Support accessing emergency shelter.
  • Advocacy and referrals for legal services and tenant organizing.
  • Outreach and education about tenant rights.
  • Advice, information, and workshops for Somerville tenants, landlords, and advocates.
  • Anti-displacement policy advocacy.

Our Mission

To prevent the involuntary displacement of Somerville residents who are in the process of eviction or at other risk of losing their housing; to rehouse those without stable housing or who otherwise need to relocate; and to support the enactment of policies and the creation of programs to combat displacement and enhance tenants’ rights.


OHS workshops are in person and in English with interpretation available with advance request, unless otherwise noted. 

Are you, or someone you know, interested in applying for state public housing (CHAMP)- affordable housing where the rent is based on your income? Immigration status does not affect eligibility for this program; there is an income limit of 80% AMI.

April 25: CHAMP Workshop in English: 3-6pm at City Hall Annex Conference Room, 50 Evergreen Ave. Register here: 
May 23: Tenant Rights (in English with interpretation)
June 13: Private Housing Search (in English with interpretation)
September 12: Accessing Affordable and Federal Public Housing for Mixed Immigrant Households
October 10: Credit 101
November 15: Landlord Programs

Sign Up for OHS Alerts and Newsletter

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Meet Our Team 

Ellen Shachter
(781) 307-3307 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2580
Yo hablo español

Fred Berman
Co-Deputy Director
(617) 335-2864 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2590

Susan Chimene
Co-Deputy Director
(781) 296-4002 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2591

Isabel Aguerrido
Housing Intake Supervisor
(617) 702-6159 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2581
Yo hablo español

Lydia López
Client Services Manager
(781) 254-2285 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2582
Yo hablo español, eu falo português

Sonia Conde
Senior Case Manager
(617) 366-7531 (work cell)
Yo hablo español

Vartika Govil
Housing Case Manager/Special Initiatives
(781) 808-7239 (work cell)
मैं हिंदी बोलती हूँ। 

Ben Lappen
Housing Case Manager/Special Initiatives
(617) 366-7341 (work cell)
Yo hablo español

Eben Forbes
Rental Assistance Advocate
(781) 789-6575 (work cell)
Yo hablo español

Ana Ramalho
Rental Assistance Advocate
(781) 808-7102 (work cell)
Eu falo português

Pennie Taylor
Program Development, Policy, and Communications Coordinator
(617) 366-7416 (work cell)
Yo hablo español

Yanna Shakes
Housing Intake Specialist
(781) 823-9495 (work cell)
(617) 625-6600, ext. 2581

Jill Currier
Housing Case Manager/Special Initiatives
(781) 823-9269 (work cell)

A Place to Call Home


Two years ago, Surinder, a recent widow and single mother, received notice that her landlord was raising the rent on the apartment she shared with her daughter and her mother. Surinder had lived in this home for 15 years, ever since she moved from India to Somerville to live with her husband. Between Surinder’s widow benefits and earnings from her job at Dunkin Donuts, this multigenerational family could no longer afford to live in their own home. 

With the threat of eviction looming, Surinder reached out to the Office of Housing Stability. OHS director Ellen Shachter advocated with Surinder’s landlord and convinced him to let Surinder’s family extend their stay at their original rent while OHS assisted them in a search for affordable housing. Waitlists for affordable housing are long, so Surinder’s family eventually moved into a temporary home with a roommate. The rent was still too high long term, and they missed their privacy, but it bought them time to keep searching for affordable housing.

OHS helped Surinder navigate her application to the 100 Homes Program, a partnership between the City of Somerville and Somerville Community Corporation that creates and preserves affordable housing. Ellen ensured that Surinder’s family was placed on the priority waitlist because they had been displaced through no fault of their own. 

Six months later, Surinder’s family moved into their new home. Although lower than market price, the rent still exceeded 50% of Surinder’s income. In order to make this apartment truly affordable, OHS helped Surinder apply for a section 8 voucher, which guaranteed that the family’s rent would not exceed 30% of their income. 

Today, Surinder’s family lives together in a two-bedroom apartment in East Somerville, close to the Somerville Public Library, Foss Park, and many local businesses and restaurants. They are grateful to be part of this close-knit community. Surinder greets her neighbors by name, and her daughter has friends in the neighborhood. Surinder works locally at a Dunkin Donuts while her daughter attends the nearby middle school. The whole family has appreciated spending time together during the COVID-19 pandemic, enjoying the privacy of their own home and outdoor space at the nearby park. Surinder can relax knowing that she has an affordable and stable apartment that her daughter and her mother love. She is the happiest she has felt in a long time, since for the first time in almost two years, Surinder’s family has a permanent place to call home.


Tenant Information

Need eviction help now?

Did you receive a Notice to Quit, a Summary Process Complaint, and/or other housing-related court date?

Call the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) for information, referrals and advocacy, 617-625-6600, Ext. 2581. No income limits. All languages accommodated. Make a Referral here.

Call the ERLI Intake Helpline for legal services, 617- 603-1700 or 1-800-342-LAWS (5297).

  • Call the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) for information, referrals and advocacy, 617-625-6600, Ext. 2581. No income limits. All languages accommodated.
  • Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services, 617-603-1700,
  • De Novo, 617-661-1010
  • If you make less than 125% of the federal poverty level call CAAS for the homelessness prevention program, 617-623-7370 or

Homeless Individuals:

If you have already been evicted from your unit or otherwise become homeless and you are living on the streets, in a car or other place unfit for human habitation and need assistance please contact:
Somerville Homeless Coalition, 617-623-6111 and ask for coordinated entry. 

Homeless Families:
If you are homeless or about to be homeless and you are pregnant or live with a child age twenty-one or younger you may be eligible for shelter through the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) Emergency Assistance Family Shelter Program

Income guidelines are here. Note: these change periodically so you need to check for current limits

See here for rules about Emergency Assistance Shelter. Since eligibility can be complicated, please contact the Office of Housing Stability, 617-625-6600, Ext. 2581 for assistance. 

If you are not a City of Somerville resident and would like to find local housing resources, use the EOHLC resource finder tool

Information for Tenants

Tenants’ rights and responsibilities

The Housing Stability Notification Act (HSNA) includes know your rights information for new tenancies, and for what happens when a tenancy is terminated. 

New TenancyEnd of Tenancy

City of Somerville The Tenant's Helper: A Handbook for Renters: TenantHandbook 2018.pdf

City of Boston Eviction Guide

Attorney General’s Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights


Security Deposits and last month’s rent

Legal handbook that goes through Security Deposits and Last Month's Rent, including what repairs can be covered by your security deposit. 

Massachusetts General Laws about landlord's use of security deposit for repairs: Mass. Gen. Laws Chapter 186 § Section 15B

Template you can use to ask for a Security Deposit

Tenant screening – rights when you are applying for housing

Mass Legal Help Online page

Mass Legal Help “Pull Out Guide”

Chapter Two, Tenant Screening of “Legal Tactics: Tenants’ Right in Massachusetts”

Before you Move Out 

Moving Out: Checklist, Giving Notice and Protecting Yourself

Your Responsibilities When You leave, Giving Proper Notice, Subleasing and What to Do Before Moving out

Eviction Information

Eviction Timeline

Defending yourself Against an Eviction case: Answer Guide

Massachusetts Defense for Eviction (MADE): Self-Guided Eviction Help | Greater Boston Legal Services ( 

Guide on How to file a Motion to Dismiss including a template

Preparing for Trial, guide to Discovery

Housing court forms in other languages

Fair Housing:
Although housing programs may advertise eligibility criteria, it is important to note that fair housing laws protect all of us from discrimination based on: race, color, national origin, religion, gender identity, military status, age (except minors), sexual orientation, family status (e.g. have children), source of income (e.g. Section 8), disability, marital status, and ancestry.

If you believe you are being or have been discriminated against, you may file a Fair Housing Complaint with the City of Somerville’s Fair Housing Commission. To make a complaint, visit the Fair Housing Commission website and click on the “Report Discrimination” tab, here. For more information on your rights and responsibilities, contact the Somerville Fair Housing Commission at 617-625-6600, x2584.

Rental Assistance

Do you owe rent? Please reach out to our office for a referral. We may be able to assist an application to a local or state program.

RAFT: The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program provides short-term emergency funding to help you with eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. 

Let's see if you might be eligible for RAFT. (
RAFT Application Portal: Home (


Accessing affordable housing in Somerville

How do I determine my income eligibility?

Different affordable housing programs have different income eligibility restrictions, usually based on Area Median Income (AMI) standards determined by The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The four main AMI categories are:

  • Moderate Income: a household whose income is between 81% and 95% of the AMI
  • Low Income: a household whose income is between 51% and 80% of the AMI
  • Very Low Income: a household whose income is between 31% and 50% of the AMI
  • Extremely Low Income: a household whose income is at or below 30% of the AMI


City of Somerville’s Inclusionary Housing Programs

The City of Somerville’s Inclusionary Programs include rental and homeownership units for applicants at various income levels. Each development has different income criteria for available units.

Inclusionary rental units have shallow subsidies, meaning the rents are below market but do not fluctuate when income increases or decreases. There are minimum and maximum income requirements for inclusionary units. Where an applicant has a voucher, however, the minimum income rules do not apply. To get on the list to receive notice of opportunities to apply for inclusionary units sign up here.

For homeownership you will need to get a mortgage pre-approval and attend a first-time homebuyers education program. For more information on the inclusionary affordable homeownership program and resources for first-time buyers, please see the City of Somerville’s Inclusionary Housing Program website and click on the "Resources for First-Time Buyers" tab. 

100 Homes Program

The 100 Homes program is a joint initiative of the City of Somerville and the Somerville Community Corporation (SCC). Under this program SCC purchases buildings available on the open market with the hope of stabilizing tenants in place and making units available to those in need of affordable housing. The 100 Homes units have shallow subsidies, meaning the rents are below market but do not fluctuate when income increases or decreases. There are minimum and maximum income requirements for these programs. Where an applicant has a voucher, however, the minimum income rules do not apply. Apply here for the 100 Homes Program.

Privately owned non-profit or for-profit multi-family housing:

In addition to the aforementioned affordable and subsidized housing programs, there are other privately owned non-profit and for-profit multi-family housing developments throughout the City of Somerville. The list below includes the contact information and addresses for such opportunities.

Clarendon Hill Towers – 617- 625-7150

Management company: FHRC Management Corp

Mailing address: 1372 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Details: “deep” subsidies; one, two, and three bedrooms

Application: Download here: Clarendon Hill Towers Application copy.pdf

Cobble Hill Apartments -- 617-625-8920

Management company: CMJ Management Company

Mailing address: 84 Washington Street, Somerville, MA 02143

Details: “deep” subsidies; one and two bedrooms

Application: Apply via website or download a fillable pdf here: Cobble Hill Apartments 2022 Application copy.pdf

Note: The application form is updated every year; make sure you are using a current application.  

Recommendation: Even if you use the fillable pdf, click on the “Apply via website” link, for alerts about waitlist closures. As of 11/16/2022, the waitlist for households with dependent children is closed.

Burton F. Faulkner Tower – 617- 628-2119

Mailing address: 25 Highland Avenue, Somerville, MA 02143

Details: “deep” subsidies; elderly or disabled; one and two bedrooms

Application: Download here: Burton F. Faulkner Tower Application.pdf

Kent Street Apartments – 617 628-0499

Management company: The Community Builders, Inc.

Mailing address: 32 Kent Street, Somerville, MA 02145

Details: “shallow” subsidies (flat rent); studio, one, two, and three bedrooms

Application: Apply via website or download application here

Mt. Pleasant Apartments – 617- 623-5810

Management company: Peabody Properties

Mailing address: 70 Perkins Street, Somerville, MA 02145

Details: elderly or disabled; one and two bedrooms

Application: Apply via website or download application here

Mt. Vernon I, II, III – 781-391-0700

Management company: High Street Property Management Corp.

Mailing address: 92 High Street, Suite 22 Medford, MA 02155

Details: “deep” subsidies; one bedrooms

Application not available

219-225 Pearl Street – 781-395-1600

Management company: The 219 Pearl St. Realty Trust

Mailing address: 219 Pearl Street, Somerville, MA 02145

Details: “deep” subsidies and market rate; two and three bedrooms

Application not available

Pearl Street Park – 617- 625-8780

Management company: E.P. Management Corporation

Mailing address: 240 Pearl Street, Somerville, MA 02145

Details: “deep” subsidies; elderly or disabled; one bedrooms

Application: Download here: Pearl Street Park Application copy.pdf

Somerville Community Corporation (SCC) Portfolio – 617- 591-0577

Management company: Wingate Companies

Mailing address: 7 Memorial Road, Somerville, MA 02145

Application: For most SCC properties, you may apply through Wingate Companies, however, some require you to apply through the Somerville Housing Authority. You may contact Wingate Companies to ask how to apply to one or more of the SCC properties.

SCC Properties:

  • 33 Bow Street—16 affordable and two market rate units; two, three, and four bedrooms
  • 75 Cross Street—eight affordable units; for formerly homeless households; one and two bedrooms
  • 109 Gilman Street – six affordable units; three bedrooms; two units for formerly homeless
  • Linden Street Apartment – 42 affordable units; one, two and three bedrooms
  • Saint Polycarp Village – 24 affordable units; one, two and three bedrooms; four units for Department of Mental Health (DMH) clients; two units for chronically homeless
  • Saint Polycarp Village 2 — 29 affordable units; one, two, and three bedrooms
  • Saint Polycarp Village 3 – 31 affordable units; one, two, and three bedrooms
  • Sewall Place – 13 affordable units; single room occupancy (SRO); 13 for formerly homeless
  • Walnut Street Apartments – 12 affordable units; one and two bedrooms
  • Union Square Apartments 181 Washington Street – 35 affordable units; one, two, and three bedrooms

Landlord Resources

New TenancyEnd of Tenancy
Full HSNA ordinance text
Fuel assistance

Housing Search

If you are not sure what the income eligibility is for any given program, be sure to review the application or contact the housing provider for more information. For affordable housing programs that use HOME income limits, please view the income guidelines here. For the Somerville Housing Authority income guidelines for state and federal public housing and the Section 8 program, please see the next section for guideline links.

Where can I apply for affordable housing in Somerville?

Somerville Housing Authority

Somerville Housing Authority provides subsidized housing for eligible low and moderate-income families and elderly. To determine if you are income eligible for the federal public housing program, view the guidelines here. To determine if you are income eligible for state public housing, view the guidelines here. For the Section 8 income guidelines, click here. Please note there are different immigration eligibility criteria for state and federal housing programs, including public housing. Certain federal housing programs require certain types of recognized immigration status. Eligibility for state public housing does not include any immigration restrictions; households may apply regardless of immigration status.

Federal Public Housing

State Public Housing

The state public housing application is now called the Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public-Housing (CHAMP). You can now apply for state public housing through the CHAMP website. You can select all housing authorities you are interested in applying to but it is recommended that you only apply to towns and cities you are willing to live in. To apply for state public housing, you can visit the CHAMP website to apply online or download a hard copy of the application here.

  • Elderly/Disabled State Public Housing Application

You may complete the CHAMP application online or download a hard copy of the application here.

Project-Based Vouchers

Centralized Section 8

  • Apply for the Centralized Section 8 waiting list here.

Somerville Housing Authority offers emergency status for eligible households applying for public housing who are homeless or at risk of homelessness due to certain reasons. The eligibility criteria for emergency status slightly differ between state and federal public housing, please see below.

The conditions for emergency status are:

State Public Housing Emergency Priority Federal Public Housing Emergency Preference
A – Displaced by Natural Forces, such as a fire, earthquake, or flood 1A – Displaced from federally subsidized units by Hurricane Katrina
1B – Displaced by Fire or Natural Forces, such as a fire, earthquake, or flood
B – Displaced by Public Action, such as the building of a low rent public housing project, urban renewal project, or public sum clearance 2 – Displaced by Public Action/SHA Action
3 – Displaced due to Code Enforcement
C – Displaced by Landlord Action, such as no-fault eviction 4A – Displaced due to No Fault Eviction **
D – Displaced by Acute Medical Emergency 4C – Displaced due to Medical Emergency
E – Displaced by Abusive Situation 4B – Displaced due to Domestic Violence

** For federal public housing, no-fault evictions can include some evictions for nonpayment of rent where there was a loss of income, marital separation, or other no-fault reason the tenant was unable to pay their rent. See the Somerville Housing Authority Admissions and Continued Occupancy Plan for the exact definition of no-fault eviction.

In order to apply for emergency status, an applicant must provide proof of homelessness, impending homelessness, or health or safety risk in a current unit, and required documentation to prove emergency status. The Emergency Application for Federal Public Housing can be found here. Households can apply for State Public Housing with Emergency Priority through the online Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Public-Housing, found here.

For more information about Somerville Housing Authority, please visit the website here or contact SHA at:

30 Memorial Road
Somerville, MA 02145
Phone: (617) 625-1152

OHS Policy Advocacy

Help lead Anti-Displacement Task Force rent stabilization home rule petition and new initiatives.
Passed Housing Stability Notification Act.
Passed strengthened Condo Conversion Ordinance.
Founded statewide “LOHA” Coalition to pass Real Estate Transfer Fee.
Serving on steering committees for statewide Access to Counsel, Eviction Record Sealing, and TOPA legislative coalitions.
Serving on steering committee for Senior Bridge Program (convened by Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless).
Serving on statewide steering committee to pass the Affordable Homes Act.
Somerville Housing Authority Residential Advisory Board policy advocacy.

Anti-Displacement In the News

The following articles and reports contain interesting information about housing, homelessness, gentrification and anti-displacement strategies. Posting of these articles and reports is NOT an indication that the City of Somerville or the Somerville Office of Housing Stability (OHS) endorse any particular strategy discussed. Articles appear here for informational and educational purposes.

Right to counsel in eviction cases

Tenants' Rights 

Rent Levels and Rent Controls

Production of Affordable Housing

Homelessness / Homeless Prevention

Fair Housing

Landlord Perspectives

Transfer Fee Act

Homes Act Legislation (Sealing of Eviction Records)

Housing issues related to Zoning

National Housing Data

LGBTQ+ Housing Issues

Condo Conversion Ordinance

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