Community Preservation Act

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  • About the CPA

  • CPA Projects

  • Apply for CPA Funding

  • CPA Results

  • Community Preservation Committee


The Community Preservation Act (CPA) is a Massachusetts state law that enables municipalities to create a steady funding source for affordable housing, historic preservation, open space, and recreation land projects. Somerville adopted the CPA in 2012 with the support of over three-quarters of Somerville voters. Community organizations, City departments, and individuals can apply for CPA funding for eligible projects through the annual process managed by the Community Preservation Committee for historic resources and open space/recreation land applications. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund manages the annual process for affordable housing applications.

To date, $12 million has been awarded in CPA funds to 42 projects across the City. This includes:

  • Creating 53 new units of affordable housing through projects like the Somerville Housing Authority's Mystic Water Works project, which is both preserving a historic building and creating 25 new units of affordable housing.
  • Stabilizing Prospect Hill Tower, so it can be open again to the public, and providing funding to preserve five historic buildings, including adding elevators to the Somerville Museum and Temple B'nai Brith so they will be accessible to all.
  • Providing funding to create new designs for three open spaces, including the Prospect Hill Park and the Somerville Community Path, and funding the construction of the new Hoyt-Sullivan Playground.

The funding for CPA comes from three sources:

  1. A 1.5% surcharge on net property taxes. The first $100,000 of assessed value is exempt, and qualifying low- and moderate-income households may also apply for an exemption. See Surcharge Information for details.
  2. Municipal revenue. Because Somerville adopted a "blended CPA," the City may choose - though it is not required - to dedicate additional municipal revenue to CPA. The maximum amount the City can contribute in any year is roughly equivalent to the revenue raised by the 1.5% surcharge.
  3. Distributions from the Commonwealth's Community Preservation Trust Fund. Distributions match local funding on an annual basis, including surcharge revenue and dedicated municipal revenue. Since FY15, Somerville has received over $2.1 million from the state match. Communities with local funding equivalent to the maximum 3% surcharge are eligible for an increased match rate.


To date, $12,051,532 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, including over $2.1 million in state match funds, have been awarded to 43 projects across all of Somerville's seven wards. Learn about these projects below.

2018 Projects

Click here to read about the FY18 CPA applications for funding.

2017 Projects

Click here to read about the FY17 CPA Projects.

$2,243,112 awarded to 15 projects (3 affordable housing, 4 historic resources, 8 open space/recreation land; 7 community projects, 6 City projects, and 2 joint community/City projects)

2016 Projects

Click here to read about the FY16 CPA Projects.

$5,636,423 awarded to 13 projects (4 affordable housing, 5 historic resources, 4 open space/recreation land; 6 community projects, 5 City projects, and 2 joint community/City projects)

2015 Projects

Click here to read about the FY15 CPA Projects.

$4,171,987 awarded to 15 projects (4 affordable housing, 7 historic resources, 4 open space/recreation land; 10 community projects and 5 City projects)

Want to see more of what we're up to? Visit the Somerville CPA Flickr site for more project photos.



Want to go more in depth? Learn more about the application process by watching the video from the most recent application workshop here. The slides from the session are available here.

In FY18, the Community Preservation Committee will recommend up to $2.3 million in funding for historic resources and open space/recreation land projects. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund will manage the process to award $1.1 million in CPA housing funds.

On this page you will find:

  • CPA eligibility guidelines
  • CPA application process
  • Community Preservation Plans
  • Resources for applicants

¿Quiere aprender sobre el proceso de aplicación en el español? Mira una entrevista sobre el programa aquí.

The first step in the Community Preservation Act (CPA) application process is to determine if your project is eligible for CPA funding. This chart provides an overview of what types of projects CPA funds can support:


Thumbnail preview of the linked PDF of allowable uses of CPA funding


For more detailed information, visit the Community Preservation Coalition and talk with the CPA Manager.

The Community Preservation Committee (CPC) accepts applications for CPA funding on an annual basis for historic resources, open space, and recreation land projects, typically according to the following schedule. 

May/June Community Preservation Plan hearing and plan development

Community Preservation Plan and application materials released
(both available below)

August Pre-application workshops
  • Thursday, August 10 at 7:00pm Central Library Auditorium
  • Tuesday, August 15 at 9:30am Central Library Auditorium
September 20 Eligibility Determination Forms due by 5:00pm
December 7 Full applications due by 7:00pm

CPC beings evaluation of project proposals
January Community meetings (dates tentative)
  • January 16, 2018 at 7:00pm
  • January 24, 2018 at 7:00pm
March/April CPC finalizes evaluation of project proposals
CPC sends recommendations to Board of Aldermen
April/May Board of Aldermen considers funding recommendations
May onwards Grant agreements signed

Out of Cycle Funding Requests

For exceptional cases, the CPC will consider emergency requests for funding outside of the regular application cycle. If you think you might be eligible for emergency consideration, please contact the CPA Manager.

Affordable Housing Projects

Applicants with proposals for housing-only projects or programs should contact the Affordable Housing Trust. The CPC has empowered the Trust to serve as the affordable housing arm of the Committee, so the Trust will receive and evaluate applications for CPA-eligible affordable housing projects and programs. Please contact Heidi Burbidge at [email protected] with questions. 

Historic Resources, Open Space, and Recreation Land Application Materials

The application process for historic resources and open space/recreation land funding has two parts: 

  1. The Eligibility Determination Form: The CPC uses this form to determine if your project is eligible for CPA funding
  2. The Full Application: This packet contains all of the information you need to submit an application, once the CPC determines your project is eligible for CPA funding.  

Need help understanding the application process? Talk to the CPA Manager and plan to attend the pre-application workshop in August. You can find the slides from last year's workshop here

Community Preservation Plan

Every CPA program in Massachusetts is as unique as its municipality. Each year the Community Preservation Committee sets the funding priorities and minimum funding allocations for the three CPA categories through the Community Preservation Plan. The CPC seeks to fund projects that are consistent with the community's values and use CPA funds strategically. To learn more about the CPC's priorities, read the annual Community Preservation Plans below. To help inform these priorities, come to our annual Community Preservation Plan hearing, typically held in May or June. 

The CPA enabling legislation requires a minimum of 10% be allocated to each category every year and gives each CPC the flexibility to increase these minimums to reflect the priorities in their communities. Since FY15, the CPC has set the following minimum allocations:

  • Affordable Housing = 45%
  • Historic Resources = 15%
  • Open Space and Recreation Land = 15%
  • Flexible/undesignated = 20%
  • Administration = 5% (maximum)

Flexible funds are used to fund CPA eligible projects in the three CPA categories to support requests beyond the minimum allocations and are distributed based on demand and the quality of applications. 

Resources for Applicants

CPA projects are often complex, involving many stakeholders and requiring necessary permits and approvals. The CPA Manager is an important resource to help applicants navigate the CPA process. We also hope the information below helpful as you develop your application. 11 Things to Consider when Developing a Project for CPA Funding is also available to walk you through the questions you will need to answer as you develop your project idea. 

If you are looking to get ideas for projects and are curious what others have done, you can visit the Community Preservation Coalition website to learn about CPA projects across Massachusetts and visit the Somerville CPA Projects tab to learn more about projects close to home.

Is this the first time you are writing an application for grant funding? This GuideStar blog has some helpful resources and advice for beginners. 

CPA Requirements

Projects on City Land

The CPC receives many requests from community groups for funding for projects on City land. To ensure these projects have the support of the City and are in alignment with City needs and priorities, the CPC requires that property owners be a co-applicant from the eligibility determination form phase for all projects on public lands. If you have an idea for a project on City land, read this guide to get more information about the process. 

Be sure to note that state procurement laws apply on all CPA projects on public land. It's important to factor this in when developing your project, as it may affect your budget and timeline. To read our guide for applying for CPA funds for a project on public land, click here. To watch the video from a workshop on the topic, click here

Preservation Restrictions

The Somerville CPC requires all historic resources projects accept a perpetual historic preservation restriction on the exterior of the building in order to receive funds. The CPA legislation requires that all property acquired with CPA funds be perpetually preserved for the use for which it was acquired, such as putting a conservation restriction on open space acquired with CPA funds. To learn more about preservation restrictions for CPA projects, click here.

Campaign Contribution Disclosure

Per the City of Somerville's Campaign Contribution Ordinance (Section 15-71 to 15-76), all CPA applicants requesting $50,000 or more must disclose their and financial contributions of the members of their leadership to candidates running for office in the City of Somerville. If an individual has contributed $500 or more to any individual candidate or incumbent in either the calendar year of the application or the calendar year preceding the application, they cannot receive a CPA grant.

Permits and Approvals

All CPA funded projects must apply for the necessary permits and approvals, which will vary depending on the scope of your project. You can learn more about what permits may be required for your project on the City's CitizenServe portal or by talking with someone in the Building Division of the Inspectional Services Department.

Don't forget that CPA funds can be used to help make your site accessible to all and your project may trigger requirements to make your site accessible if it isn't already. You can learn more about Massachusetts' architectural access regulations here.

Leveraging Funding

The CPC does not require a match to receive funding; however, the CPC does prioritize projects that leverage funding from multiple sources. And CPA funds can be used as matching funds for other grants! Not sure where you can find additional funding?

  • Sign up for the City of Boston's Funding Update, a weekly email with announcements from local, state, federal, and private funding sources.
  • If you have a historic preservation project, the Massachusetts Historic Preservation Commission awards grants annually through their Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund and you may be eligible for a Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund grant.
  • If your project could be considered 'placemaking,' you could be eligible for a MassDevelopment Commonwealth Places grant.
  • If you have an open space/recreation land project, a group of Tufts University Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning students developed this list of potential sources of funding (see Chapter 10, starting on page 104).
  • For a fee, you can subscribe to the Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online which will allow you to search for foundations that fund the type of project you are looking to implement.





To date, $12,051,532 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds, including over $2.5 million in state match funds, have been awarded to 43 projects across all seven wards:

  • 11 affordable housing projects ($4,921,119- 51% of CPA funding to date)
  • 15 historic resources projects ($2,924,251- 28% of CPA funding to date, plus a $2.5 million bond for West Branch Library)
  • 17 open space and recreation land projects ($1,699,862- 21% of CPA funding to date, plus $710,000 earmarked for land acquisition)

As a result of these projects:

  • 53 units of affordable housing are being created
  • 8 historic buildings and 2 historic collections are being preserved
  • 5 historic buildings are becoming ADA accessible
  • 6 open spaces are being improved and 8 schoolyard garden classrooms were improved

These projects have been implemented by 9 different community organizations (23 projects) and 6 different City departments (15 projects). Five projects are jointly implemented by City departments and community organizations.

Starting in FY17, the Community Preservation Committee began developing a monitoring and evaluation plan to accompany their annual Community Preservation Plan. The purpose of the monitoring and evaluation plan is to help the CPC track the difference CPA is making in Somerville and the trends in housing, historic preservation, and open space in our community. Read the Monitoring and Evaluation Plan for the FY17 Community Preservation Plan here.

To learn more about the individual CPA projects, visit the CPA Projects tab.

Funding Statistics

In FY15, 63% of proposed projects received funding:

  • 63% of community projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (13/20)
  • 80% of City projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (8/10)
  • 100% of community and City projects that submitted full applications were funded

In FY16, 50% of proposed projects received funding:

  • 50% of community projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (8/16)
  • 75% of City projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (6/8)
  • 75% of joint community/City projects that submitted eligibility determination forms received funding (3/4)
  • 100% of community and City projects that submitted full applications were funded; 75% of joint applications funded

In FY17, 63% of proposed projects received funding:

  • 54% of community projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (7/13) (2 still under review)
  • 71% of City projects that submitted eligibility determination forms were funded (5/7)
  • 100% of joint community/City projects that submitted eligibility determination forms received funding (2/2)
  • 70% of community projects that submitted full applications were funded (2 still under review); 83% of City applications funded; 100% of joint applications funded

Most projects funded were either withdrawn or determined to be ineligible for CPA funding:

  • FY15- 9 of 30 projects did not submit a full proposal, all other projects were offered funding
  • FY16- 10 of 28 projects did not submit a full proposal; 1 project was not funded and 1 offered lower funding
  • FY17- 2 of 15 projects did not submit a full proposal; 1 project determined ineligible; 3 put on hold by applicant and 1 offered lower funding

Interested in going more in-depth about what's happening in the CPA program? You can read our annual and mid-year reports here:

Still want to learn more about the CPA program? Read the results from our annual CPA surveys of applicants and project implementers:

Somerville CPA in the News

About the Community Preservation Committee

Committee Members

  • Dick Bauer, Chair - Historic Preservation Commission Representative
  • Michael Fager, Vice Chair - Conservation Commission Representative
  • Michael A. Capuano - Planning Board Representative
  • Elizabeth Duclos-Orsello - General Public Representative
  • Arn Franzen - Parks and Open Space Department Representative
  • Ezra Glenn - General Public Representative
  • James McCallum - Housing Authority Representative
  • Uma Murugan - General Public Representative
  • Jessica Palacios Yamakawa- General Public Representative

The key duties of the Somerville Community Preservation Committee (CPC) are to:

  • Develop and maintain a community preservation plan, which establishes the Committee's priorities for recommending projects to the Board of Aldermen to receive Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding. The Committee's FY17 Community Preservation Plan is available here. The Committee will update this plan annually and will hold at least one public hearing to gather public comment on it in the process.
  • Prepare an annual budget for the Board of Aldermen, which establishes how the Committee intends to allocate annual CPA revenue. 
  • Make project recommendations to the Board of Aldermen. The Committee will make recommendations to the Board of Aldermen regarding the allocation of CPA funding following a competitive application process. The Board can approve, reject, or reduce the Committee's funding proposals.

The ordinance governing the CPC is available here.  

Joining the CPC

Four members of the Community Preservation Committee are selected from the general public. Because the terms were initially staggered, we will be looking for new members each year from 2017 to 2020. Interested in learning more about what it's like to be on the CPC? You can watch the video from the 2017 information session for prospective CPC applicants here. All CPC members can serve for up to two consecutive terms of three years each. There is a competitive application process for the general public seat. Applications are reviewed by a selection committee with community and City representatives. If you are interested in applying, be on the lookout for calls for applications in the fall. 

The other five members of the CPC are appointed, as required by the CPA enabling legislation, from the:

  • Conservation Commission
  • Historic Preservation Commission
  • Parks and Open Space Department
  • Planning Board
  • Somerville Housing Authority