Photo by Kimberly Abruzzo
The eviction moratorium is extended, the Somerville Theatre will reopen, and the Somerville Museum’s block party
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Vote in the preliminary election TODAY!
The preliminary elections for Mayor and City Council in Wards 5 and 7 are today. The vote will determine which candidates move to the general election in November. Polls will be open until 8 p.m. Polling locations are the same as they were last year, except three of them are in different places. The new locations, which include some returns to pre-pandemic spaces, are here:
- Ward 3 Precinct 1
- New (pre-pandemic) Location: A room in Properzi Manor, 13-25 Warren Ave.
- Former Location: Central Library, 79 Highland Ave.
- Ward 6 Precinct 3
- New Location: A room in the West Branch Library, 40 College Ave.
- Former Location: West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Blvd.
- Ward 7 Precinct 3
- New (pre-pandemic) Location: A room in the VNA Assisted Living Facility, 405 Alewife Brook Parkway
- Former Location: West Somerville Neighborhood School, 177 Powder House Blvd.
Eviction moratorium extended
The Somerville Board of Health has decided to extend the eviction moratorium to April 30, 2022.
“I want to thank the Board of Health for taking this important step to protect public health as this pandemic continues,” said Mayor Joe Curtatone, in a press release. “We know about a third of renters who are evicted move in with friends or family, which can cause crowded conditions that help COVID-19 spread. Others go to shelters and similar congregate settings, or to tent encampments which also increase the likelihood of COVID transmission and lethality. Keeping people in their homes is one of the many ways we are trying to limit the spread of this virus.”
During the moratorium period, renters and homeowners are still responsible for back rent. Anyone needing help with housing costs should contact the City’s Office of Housing Stability.
“Tenants who are not able to stay current with their rent are strongly encouraged to call the Office of Housing Stability for help in obtaining rental assistance to stabilize their tenancies and avoid credit problems. Landlords with tenants who are in arrears can also feel free to contact OHS for help reaching out to their tenants about rental assistance,” said OHS Director Ellen Shachter, in the same press release. “OHS can also assist eligible Somerville homeowners and landlords with applications for financial assistance to cover unpaid mortgages, condo fees, or similar charges. So, please, contact us early. Our goal is to create a win-win situation where tenants are not getting evicted and landlords and homeowners are able to keep up with mortgages and other fees.”
“Call to Consciousness” eviction moratorium rally hosted at City Hall
The Community Action Agency of Somerville , the Eviction Response Network, and the Somerville Renters Committee hosted a demonstration calling for the extension of the Somerville eviction moratorium on September 9. The event was held outside of City Hall. The moratorium prevents anyone from Somerville from being physically removed from their home. A similar Centers for Disease Control moratorium protected renters across the country and was overturned on August 26.
The morning after the CDC moratorium was struck down, organizers in Somerville immediately began working towards their campaign, said CAAS community organizer Samantha Wolfe, because Somerville’s moratorium is expected to expire on September 15. Mayor Joe Curtatone has recommended that the Board of Health wait until November 30, but Wolfe said that that is not enough time.
“With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, now is not that time to put people out on the streets, in shelters, or couch surfing in overcrowded apartments,” said Wolfe. “We are here to demand that Somerville renters receive a full year of recovery, from the end of the Massachusetts State of Emergency, through June of 2022. People whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic need time to find a decent paying job, access rental assistance, and grieve the loss of their loved ones from COVID-19 without having to worry about becoming homeless.”
Speakers included members of the Somerville Renters Committee, such as Akida Harris. In light of the extension of the moratorium to April 30, 2022, an anonymous source gave the following statement.
“I went through a tough time last year,” said the source. “My landlord tried to evict me. I applied for financial assistance. It took 168 days for my RAFT [Residential Assistance for Families in Transition] application to be approved. Having the Somerville moratorium being extended until April 30, 2022, gives my family a sense of safety. No one can be evicted during this time and families like me will have enough time to apply and get financial assistance.”
Somerville holds September 11 memorial ceremony
Mayor Joe Curtatone and the City’s Department of Veterans’ Services held an annual procession and memorial to mark the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. There was a speaking program that started at 10 a.m. Photos by Mary Ellen Myhr are below.
Somerville Theatre to reopen
The Somerville Theatre will reopen on Sept. 17. Movie goers can buy tickets now for three movies, “Last Night in Rozzie,” “Cry Macho,” and “Pig.” Creative Director Ian Judge said that he and the staff are excited to be welcoming viewers back into the space and are in the process of tying up loose ends. When the theatre opens, guests will be expected to follow a few COVID-19 precautions.
“There is a mask mandate in place, here in Somerville, so we’ll go by that, unless you’re actively eating or drinking,” said Judge. “Also, you must show proof of your COVID vaccination or a 72-hour negative result on the test, in order to get into the building. We’ll be requiring that. A lot of performing arts and movie places are. That is the biggest change. We’re doing that for two reasons. One is, it’s just a smart thing to do. And two, most of the show producers and artists that we work with require it anyhow, so it’s just better to have a consistent policy, as well.”
Judge said that the closure of the theatre had been “devastating,” but that it also served as an opportunity to do a slew of renovations to the space. The team made “lemonade out of lemons,” he added. He said that while the way that people view movies has changed, he anticipates that there will still be an interest in coming to view films together, in person, with other people.
“I definitely think that the way consumers purchase their entertainment has changed and has shifted,” said Judge. “But if there’s anything this last weekend’s national box office proved, it’s that people do want to, in large numbers, still have that movie theater experience. I think a lot of people miss it—not everybody, and the future is always uncertain. It’s been popular, since the first movie was released, to describe them as a fad that wouldn’t last. Everything that has supposedly destroyed movies, radio, television, VCRs, streaming, it’s all changed the industry, but there remains that desire to experience entertainment in a communal way. There’s really nothing like seeing a good movie on a big screen, with an audience.”
Somerville Museum hosts block party
On Sept. 18, the Somerville Museum will be hosting an event, the “My Neighbor is a Museum” Block Party. It is scheduled to happen from 3-7 p.m. and will be on Westwood Road. The Museum is trying to fundraise for its Access for All and More Campaign, which supports making the 100-year old building more accessible to the community. The event is also celebrating the opening of the exhibition, Penny Chronicles and the Stories They Tell. Curated by David Guss, this exhibition is a history of Somerville through the medium of the vintage postcard.
There will be live music, food, local artwork, raffles, and games!
Music: Jan Marie and the Mean Reds, Raynel Shepard & the Joe Reid Trio, Rook Murao and local DJs, Honk! with Ghost Town
Food: There will be food and drinks available for purchase from Winter Hill Brewing, Machu Picchu, and Christine’s Cotton Candy!
Raffle + Art Sale: We have some great raffle prizes including gift cards to Spindler Confectioners and annual memberships to LEGOLAND (to name a few)! We’re also organizing an art sale by local artists. So, there will be plenty of opportunities to support your neighborhood museum, local businesses, and artists.
Admission: The Block Party is free and open to all! There is a $5 admission to view the Penny Chronicles and the Stories They Tell exhibition inside the Museum; members free.
COVID 19 Update: In an effort to keep our staff, volunteers, and visitors safe we will be requiring everyone to wear a mask while indoors. We will be closely following updates on local and state regulations.
SomerStreets to sweep the city
SomerStreets, the City’s take on the internationally-renowned Open Streets concept, in which busy streets are closed down to vehicles and opened for other forms of activity, will take place on September 19. The program will run from 2-6 p.m. on Highland Avenue, between Central Street and Lowell Street. There will be two stages of music, curated by Arts at the Armory and ONCE. SomerStreets is an annual series that builds on the Shape Up Somerville health living initiative. According to the Somerville Arts Council, “the City and its community partners aim to promote and encourage easy access to physical activity, and reconnecting with neighborhoods and businesses and their unique cultural elements in a thriving urban environment.”
Activities along Highland Avenue will include:
- Local craft vendors
- Aerial performances by Esh Circus Arts
- Parkour with Parkour Generations Boston
- Activities and games with Somerville Recreation
- Wash Away Your Fears Community Project with Illegal Art
- Explore a fire truck and ambulance
- Community vendors and local businesses
- Pop-up hula hoop performers and more!
Once stage line-up:
- 2:30pm – Savior Faire
- 3:45pm – Little FusS
- 5- 6pm – Sun League
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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.