The Housing Division ensures that Somerville remains an affordable, sustainable, and livable community. We do this by obtaining and managing funds for affordable housing developments. We also work to improve the quality of housing in the City–not just the quantity–to ensure that all Somerville residents are safe and content.
We offer a number of programs and services designed to improve housing in the City. Some of our duties include funding new housing developments, administering lead hazard abatement and homeowner rehabilitation programs, and offering support to other housing-related programs in the City. We also offer resources for housing needs, like landlord-tenant mediation and foreclosure prevention. Use the links below to find more information about our partners, programs, and services.
Many of our programs are geared towards helping homeowners who are looking for affordable opportunities. These include:
- Efficient Heating and Cooling: HeatSmart/CoolSmart
- Energy Efficiency: Be Somerville Energy Efficient Now (Be SEEN)
- The Inclusionary Housing Program & Development Benefits
- Lead Safe Somerville
- Fair Housing Brochure
- Renewable Energy
- Housing Rehabilitation Program
- Lead Hazard Abatement
- Heating System Replacement
Opportunities for Renters and Buyers
We have an array of programs and resources for renters and first-time homebuyers, too! Some of these opportunities include:
- Down payment assistance
- First-time homebuyer classes
- Tenant rent stabilization
- Fuel assistance and weatherization
Learn more about our programs for renters and first-time buyers here.
This guide is an extensive list of resources for homeless people and those who are at risk of becoming homeless. You’ll find contact information for local shelters, transitional housing, food services, emergency funding, and more. You can read the guide here. If you need additional help, including help finding an emergency shelter, call us at (617) 625-6600 ext. 2577.
The following resources are designed to help landlords and tenants understand their rights:
- The Tenant’s Helper: A Handbook for Renters
- MA Attorney General’s Guide to Landlord/Tenant Rights
- FAQs for Landlords
- FAQs for Tenants
- Fair Housing Commission
- Vivienda Justa en Español
- Housing Rights in the LGBTQ Community
- Housing Guide for Tenants with Mental Health Issues
- Housing for People with Disabilities (Overview)
For more help with landlord/tenant rights, mediation, and Fair Housing laws, contact us at (617) 625-6600 ext. 2577.
The Housing Division and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund offer three programs to help first-time homebuyers in the City.
The Trust Fund was formed to preserve and create affordable rental and homeownership units in Somerville, and to carry out programs to directly assist homeowners and renters.
We connect low-income residents with programs that help them stay in their homes or find attainable housing.
Condominium Review Board
The Condo Review Board oversees and enforces condo conversion laws in the City. They aim to protect tenants who live in rentals that are being converted to condos or removed from the market. The Housing Division works with the Board to manage applications and documentation for conversions. They also conduct public hearings each month. To learn more about the condo conversion review process, click here.
HOME Layering Guideline
The City can use HOME funds to help developers create affordable housing. However, the project must fall within certain financial guidelines to receive funding. You can learn more about HOME funds and program guidelines here.
Energy Efficiency Mortgage Guide
Energy efficient mortgages allow you to borrow more money to help pay for upgrades to new or existing homes. They’re rolled into your main mortgage so that you don’t have to make more than one payment per month. You can learn more about “Green Mortgages” here.
Planning and Zoning Resources:
- Housing Needs Assessment (2021)
- Fair Housing Commission Annual Report - FY20
- Somerville Community Land Trust Working Group Recommendations Report (2019)
- HUD Comments from City of Somerville Re: Proposed Changes to AFFH Rule
- Comments Submitted to HUD on Changes to Disparate Impact Rule
- Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group Recommendations Report (2015)
- Transfer Fee Impact Analysis (2017)
- Linkage Nexus Report (2017)
- Assessment of Fair Housing (2017)
- Greater Boston Report Card (2017)
- An Analysis of Residential Market Potential (2016)
- Overview of the Airbnb Community (2017)
- Report Survey of Somerville Residents Age 50 and Older
- Somerville Residential Energy Efficiency Report
- Assessment of Impediments to Fair Housing Choices
- HUD Consolidated Plans, Action Plans, and CAPER
- HUD Continuum of Care Plan
- HUD Rent Limits
- HUD Rule - LGBT Equal Access to HUD programs
- Equal Access Rule Overview
- 1600-Genderbread Person
- MassEquality Slide Presentation - Carly Burton
- Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group Recommendations Report
Does the Housing Division teach first-time homebuyer training classes?
No, the Housing Division of the City of Somerville does not teach first-time homebuyer training classes. Visit the Citizens Housing and Planning Association’s website to view all area first time homebuyer training classes, in addition to other classes they offer. The Somerville Community Corporation also teaches a first-time homebuyer class. Please go to their website for more information.
Does the Housing Division of the City of Somerville handle Section 8 Vouchers and Public Housing?
No, the Somerville Housing Authority handles those programs, and you can reach them at 617- 625-1152 or view their website here.
Does the City of Somerville have affordable homeownership and rental opportunities?
Yes. If you are interested in receiving notices for when we have available opportunities, please contact email@example.com or call 617-625-6600 x2577 to be added to the listserv. Once you are on the listserv, you will receive a notice for any affordable rental or homeownership opportunities as they become available. Please note the opportunities are available via a lottery process and income eligibility restrictions apply. We currently do not maintain one centralized wait list, unlike the Somerville Housing Authority. Therefore, you must apply for each opportunity you are interested in.
Who can I call for help with an affordable housing search?
For housing search help, you can contact the Community Action Agency of Somerville at 617-623-7370 or visit their website here. You can also contact the Somerville Homeless Coalition at 617-623-6111 or visit their website here. In addition, The MassAccess Housing Registry helps people to find affordable rental and homeownership opportunities in Massachusetts. A key feature of the Registry is to highlight homes for people with disabilities who need accessible or barrier-free housing.
I believe I was discriminated against in my search for housing. Who can I contact for help?
Here is a list of resources you can contact for help:
- Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (617-427-9740)
- Metro Housing Boston (617- 859-0400)
- Or contact the Civil Rights Advocate, Barbara Chandler: firstname.lastname@example.org (617-425-6681)
- Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) (617- 994-6000)
- Harvard Legal Aid (617-495-4408)
- Mass Legal Help
- Greater Boston Legal Services
- Cambridge/Somerville: 60 Gore Street, Suite 203 Cambridge, MA 02141
- Cambridge/Somerville: 60 Gore Street, Suite 203 Cambridge, MA 02141
- Cambridge Housing Authority (617-864-3020)
- Boston Housing Authority (617-988-4383)
- 24-hour Civil Rights Hotline: 617-695-3531
- Fair Housing Commission (617-625-6600 x2500)
- Or you can call the City’s Housing Division (617-625-6600 x2577)
Who can I call for help stabilizing my rental situation?
The Somerville Homeless Coalition, in conjunction with some assistance from the City and the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, has two programs. The PASS Program assists with a temporary (up to 2 years) housing subsidy and provides case management. The Rapid Response Program offers case management support for those in crisis and provides financial assistance with back rent, start-up costs, and utility payments. Please contact the Somerville Homeless Coalition at 617-623-6111 or go to their website for more information and eligibility details.
I am having trouble with my landlord/tenant, who can I call for help?
In addition, please view the landlord/tenant handbook helper here. You can also view the Attorney General's Guide to Landlord/Tenant Rights.
How can I receive alerts when affordable rental or homeownership units become available?
Anyone interested in getting on the Inclusionary Housing Listserv can sign up with an email or an address here.
Who should I contact if I am a homeowner looking to take advantage of the home rehabilitation program?
Any homeowner interested in the Home Rehabilitation program can contact Ken Joyce at email@example.com or 617-625-6600 x2569.
What is the Massachusetts lead law?
- The law requires deleading or interim control of lead hazards in homes built before 1978 where children under six live. Owners are responsible for compliance and financing. This includes rental properties. Please visit the Massachusetts Department of Public Health website for more information.
How often should my child be tested for lead, and where?
- Children residing in Somerville should be tested through age four. Parents or guardians may contact the following organizations for additional testing information and resources:
- Boston Children’s Hospital Pediatric Environmental Health Center
- Cambridge Health Alliance
- CAAS (Community Action Agency of Somerville)
- WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) Program
My income disqualifies me for the Somerville Lead Hazard Control program. What other resources are available to me?
- Massachusetts Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
- Mass Housing Get the Lead Out
- EPA's Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home Brochure (Multiple Languages)
I am going through the Housing Rehab program. Does my home need to be inspected for lead if it was built after 1978?
- No, only homes built prior to 1978.
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