• Dec 4th Re-election Fundraiser and Housing Affordability Op-Ed

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    Dear Friends,

    Please join me, Congressman Mike Capuano (a Ward 5 resident), and other friends at Daddy Jones in Magoun Square on Thursday evening, December 4, for a fundraiser to help lay the foundation for my re-election campaign in 2015 (see enclosed invitation).

    I want to thank you for your support over the years and especially your help in winning the Ward 5 Alderman’s seat last year. My first year on the Board of Alderman (BOA) has been both challenging and rewarding. The BOA is making decisions that will shape the future of Somerville for generations to come. There are so many big issues: the redevelopment of Union Square; the Green Line extension with five new stops in Somerville; Assembly Square; the affordable housing crisis; flooding and sewer problems; the complete revision of the zoning code; and bringing more good jobs to Somerville. I am grateful to have this opportunity to influence the growth and change of our incredibly dynamic, creative and diverse little City.

    Another part of my job as Ward 5 Alderman is helping constituents deal with the basics of urban life. I try to make sure that Ward 5 is as safe and clean as possible. I work doggedly on neighborhood issues such as traffic and safety in our streets, parking, trees, dogs, absentee landlords, crime, rats, litter, and, of course, new development. I’ve found that persistence is the #1 requirement to be an effective Ward Alderman. I am proud to have spurred improvements that make the Lowell Street bridge and several key intersections safer, and to have helped scores of Ward 5 residents with quality-of-life issues.

    As an Alderman, I advocate for progressive policies and programs and a transparent City government. I was one of seven Aldermen who voted to override the Mayor’s veto of a campaign finance reform ordinance that would limit campaign contributions from developers.

    Unfortunately, we fell one vote short, but I will work with my colleagues and hopefully the Mayor to try to pass campaign finance reform next year. I advocated successfully to expand the three half-time liaisons to our immigrant communities into full-time jobs. As Chair of the BOA Housing and Community Development Committee, I helped develop the City’s new affordable housing initiative (see op-ed article on the reverse side).

    Please help me continue to do this important work by joining me for a great time at Daddy Jones on December 4th and contributing to the campaign.

    Yours truly,

    Mark Niedergang


     Op-Ed: Housing affordability a monumental challenge that needs your support

    On October 31, 2014, in the Latest News section of The Somerville Times

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    By Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone and Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang

     

    (The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of   those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

     

    We need bold action to address housing affordability in Somerville. Somerville is thriving, and lots of people want to live here. Young people want to live in hip cities and baby boomers are returning to the urban core. However, many of the people who have helped make our beloved city a wonderful place to live are being forced out by rising rents and home prices. What’s at risk is the ethnic, racial and socio-economic diversity we treasure and the legacy that generations of working-class and immigrant families have established in Somerville. We cannot lose that.

    There is a growing crisis across the region; Greater Boston’s housing supply has not kept up with population growth and demand causing escalating housing costs regionwide. The demand for housing near public transit is even more intense. So ironically, the Green Line Extension—so important for our economy, good jobs, environment and quality of life—intensifies the affordable housing challenge we face. Every time we hold an affordable housing lottery, we are inundated with a flood of applications from lower-income households.

    Middle class families with children looking to settle here find a dearth of options in their price range. Artists, teachers, social workers and even our own city employees are struggling to stay. And speculators are contacting homeowners, offering cash, looking to profit from the work we’ve put in to make Somerville a great place to live, work, play, raise a family and retire.

    This month, we launched the Sustainable Neighborhoods initiative—a comprehensive plan that builds upon the city’s many ongoing initiatives to address affordability. Very specific immediate steps are included in this initiative, but we’re just getting started and the effort will grow as we quickly identify additional solutions to pursue. As a key step toward this, we are creating a Sustainable Neighborhoods Working Group, engaging community members and city staff with a broad range of expertise and experience.

    We don’t have the luxury of time, so we’ll be asking the Working Group to make its initial recommendations in the early spring. Earlier this year, the city partnered with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Somerville Community Corporation on a report that detailed the likely effect of GLX on housing affordability. Somerville could become a mostly professional, upper-middle class community if we do not undertake decisive action—and if the 101 cities and towns in Greater Boston fail to do their part in creating the 435,000 new homes needed by 2040.

    To read the rest of this article, go to: http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/53522

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