Affordable Housing – August, 2010

Last month I had the opportunity to speak before the Zoning Board of Appeals in support of the Somerville Community Corporation’s plan to convert 162 Highland Avenue into six affordable housing units. While there are concerns about the density created by this project, we must allow for a distinction to be made between the construction of new properties, and the density of necessity for sheltering families who currently live in motel rooms. This project renovates an existing building, it does not alter the building’s footprint, it does not diminish our city’s open space. To argue against this project because there is not one parking space for each of the proposed units, ignores SCC’s research, which shows that of the 50 families eligible to apply to live in these apartments, less than half actually own cars. It seems almost cynical to get caught up on deeded parking when the objective of this project is to keep families having to live in their cars. I strongly urge the Zoning Board to vote in favor of this important project.

At a recent farmers market in Union Square, Community Cooks offered delicious treats to passers-by. Drawn in by the snacks, I learned for nearly 20 years, the Community Cooks, group of volunteers of Somerville and Cambridge residents, have provided home cooked meals to shelters and service programs in our communities. Once a month, each volunteer makes a meal and delivers it to a drop-off point. Seizing the chance to combine two of my favorite things to do – cooking and supporting our community, I signed up, and am looking forward to making my world famous lentil stew for those in the programs supported by Community Cooks.

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