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Somerville Announces New Housing Support for Low-Income Households Excluded from Federal Assistance

Locally Funded Program will Prioritize Families with Children in the Somerville Public School System and Preschool Programs

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne is pleased to announce that the City and the Somerville Affordable Housing Trust Fund (SAHTF) are each committing $1.8M to fund the first five years of the City’s Municipal Voucher Program (“MVP”), a deeply affordable long-term housing subsidy with priority for families excluded from federal housing programs, including immigrant families. Additional initial funding is being provided through ARPA funds. 

“The data show that stable housing is vital to keeping kids healthy and learning, but some Somerville families are forced from home to home or risk homelessness as they struggle to make rent. And only some are eligible for federal and state housing supports,” said Mayor Katjana Ballantyne. “Somerville’s Municipal Voucher Program will explore how local governments can step in to prevent families who can’t access other housing programs from falling through the gaps. I am excited to start phase one of this program designed to help our friends and neighbors.” 

Currently, the Office of Housing Stability works to assist residents in accessing a range of federal and state housing supports and programs. And while they have a high success rate, some vulnerable families, and especially immigrant families, are unable to access affordable housing or obtain long-term rental assistance either because they are ineligible for federal programs or because they don't meet the very narrow emergency criteria in the state public housing program. The municipal voucher program seeks to serve low-income families including immigrant families who are most likely to face the greatest barriers to housing assistance. 

Housing instability has a profound negative impact on families’ physical and mental health, particularly on children. To address this, the program will prioritize low-income families with children in the Somerville Public Schools and Somerville-based preschool programs.    

“As a City we need to be as creative as possible in addressing the housing needs of our residents,” said  Ellen Shachter, Director of the Somerville Office of Housing Stability. “A municipally funded voucher program without state and federal restrictions allows us the flexibility that is needed to best assist our most vulnerable families, including immigrant families in the public school and daycare systems, to remain in their homes and community.” 

It is estimated that at current funding levels the program will be able to assist 30-35 Somerville households annually to remain in their homes and/or enable them to relocate into an appropriate Somerville apartment with a rental subsidy. The City of Somerville will be working to identify a partner to administer the program and assist with determining program eligibility guidelines and implementation rules. 

For more information about the program contact Ellen Shachter, Director of the Somerville Office of Housing Stability at or Morena Zelaya, Housing Policy Coordinator at

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