Did you know that at one time SCC was called simply The Somerville Corporation? In the late 1980s the then Board of Directors decided to officially add “Community” to our name. In reflecting on our recent work, as reported in this newsletter, it seems to me that the addition of that one word – “community” – has never been more appropriate.
If you look at our recent annual report or, in fact, our annual reports over the past several years, one theme emerges over and over: everything about SCC’s work is wrapped around the idea that we are trying to build and sustain the kind of community we want in Somerville. We do that against some very powerful forces that would break our sense of community, whether that be anti-immigrant politics or the market economic forces that make Somerville unaffordable for many people. Here are just a few things we are doing recently that underscore our commitment to community:
- Through the 100 Homes program, SCC is seeking to remove apartments in our existing housing stock from the speculative market that has been forcing people out. With the support of partners and the City of Somerville we are able to preserve these homes at moderate rents, and ensure our renters that the rents will remain moderate. We have acquired 45 apartments to date and hope to do much more in the coming months and years.
- We are joining the effort to pass a new Real Estate Transfer Fee in Somerville. With the high volume of sales going on, and at very high prices, a new transfer fee could generate $6-9 Million per year to support more affordable housing for the future. To make housing affordable simply – or not so simply! - takes public money. The funds generated by a new Transfer Fee could help make tens of apartments permanently affordable every year. With real estate values increasing over 10% every year since 2010 we homeowners can afford to give up 1% of our sale, if and when we decide to sell, if it will help us keep Somerville the diverse and vibrant community we all love.
- Our financial and job coaches are working with Somerville Housing Authority residents through the state-funded Mass. LEAP program to help public housing residents improve their financial, job and career prospects, resulting in meaningful progress in household finances, as well as increased confidence and self esteem for those community members.
- Finally, our new First Source Networking Café is a classic case of cultivating community by bringing together job seekers to share their stories and to support each other in their efforts to gain better jobs and improve their lives.
At SCC we believe that actions speak louder than words, and that taking action to build community is more valuable than simply saying we want community. We hope you find actions like those described above to be worthy of the term “community-building” and that you join us in these efforts.