Protest “tidal wave of gentrification sweeping the new Green Line Extension corridor”
(Somerville Wire) – Responding to soaring rents and increasing economic uncertainty, the Community Action Agency of Somerville organized a protest last Friday in support of three Brazilian families who are at imminent risk of displacement in September, after a new landlord bought their building and abruptly raised rents by 44 percent.
More than 50 Somerville tenants rallied at 6-8 Mortimer Place last Friday to bring attention to what they call “a tidal wave of gentrification sweeping the new Green Line Extension corridor.”
The event focused on the exploitative practices of landlords, who too often treat existing tenants as mere obstacles to quickly flipping a property and reaping the profits.
“We know that this problem is not isolated,” explained CAAS Community Organizer Camila Gutierrez-Plata, an immigrant from Colombia. “Local families are increasingly held hostage to a greedy real estate market that exploits our communities in the name of endless profits. At CAAS, we are contacted daily by residents who have their rights violated and face all kinds of abuses, including unjust evictions.”
Organizers distributed copies of the Sotheby’s International Realty listing for the property during the rally. Referring to the property as a “cash-cow triple-decker,” the listing crows: “Can you imagine in just 10 years what the property values are going to be near the subway’s first expansion in nearly 30 years? Buy here before the new station opens and claim your piece on the ‘Golden Coast!’”
“Just like us, many of our neighbors in Somerville—mostly immigrants and people of color and working class people—face great difficulty in maintaining stability in their housing,” said Lusitania Pavia, a 19-year resident of Somerville, who is originally from Brazil and now faces displacement from Mortimer Place. “Our city cannot allow outside investors to buy up our homes, push out the residents who have been here for years contributing to the city’s economy and development, and turn our housing into luxury condo for profit. We urgently demand that our elected politicians do something about rent control and protect tenants’ rights.”
Rally organizers demanded lawmakers develop a comprehensive plan that mitigates unaffordable rent increases and tempers the market forces driving the displacement of local residents and small businesses.
The tenants of 6-8 Mortimer Place are asking supporters to sign a petition requesting the new owner, Edson Realty LLC, to meet with them and begin collective negotiations for lower rents and renewed leases.
Photo credit: CAAS Tenant Rally on July 29, 2022. Photo courtesy of Community Action Agency of Somerville.
Linda Pinkow is a reporter for the Somerville Wire. She is also a development consultant for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.