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Somerville affordable housing panel gives recommendations

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Establishing a 1 percent real estate transfer fee and making it easier for tenants to purchase their buildings are two of the strategies Somerville can take to expand its affordable housing supply, according to the recommendations of a local task force.

The findings were developed over 10 months of intensive research and discussion by the Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group, a 26-member panel established by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone that included affordable housing experts, residents, community advocates, and finance and real estate professionals.

The group proposed raising additional funds to support affordable housing, both through the transfer fee and by increasing an existing linkage fee charged to larger developments. Other recommendations range from holding a community competition for affordable housing proposals; supporting existing proposals for the overhaul of zoning rules; undertaking a pilot rental assistance program for tenants in affordable units; and considering a smart growth district.


The full report is avaialable at

Curtatone welcomed the proposals of the group, which was cochaired by Alderman Mark Niedergang and housing expert Dana LeWinter.

"Somerville must lead the way on housing affordability," Curtatone said in a statement. "We are up against daunting market forces that are driving housing costs upward regionwide, and coming up with solutions is going to require innovative thinking and an all-hands-on-deck commitment from the community."

John Laidler can be reached at