The Boston area is one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, and Somerville has some unique and specific challenges. As a renter, Catia faces the astronomical and rapidly increasing prices in Somerville. Catia has also met many long-time Somerville residents whose home values (and therefore cash property tax payments) have outstripped their earnings. She also sees the developers who swoop in to purchase those high-value homes to flip them for a profit, pricing out would-be homeowners.
We must tackle the short-term affordability crisis head-on, while also taking bold action on a long-term plan to address the root cause of this crisis: a regional shortage of a diverse housing supply. Somerville can't do this alone: it's already one of the densest cities in America, and lacks needed public green space to improve liveability.
That's why Catia wants to go to the State House - because that's where a Somervillian can promote regional solutions to our shared problems.
The simple truth is that more people want to live here than we have homes for. This is a regional issue that Somerville cannot solve alone. That's why the State House is so important: because it can tackle exclusionary zoning in the suburbs and invest in transit-oriented development.
Following Somerville's lead, implementing a local option for "real estate transfer fees" (surcharges applied to investors, developers, and absentee landlords) that can be used to make housing more affordable.
Including measures that would set rent increase caps in line with inflation that are targeted at low-income renters and allowing for local control over rent control decisions.
I have been a renter my entire adult life, and I have moved frequently in this difficult rental market. I have spent 3 or 4 months' rent each time to secure a place to live, pilfering money from student loans and racking up credit card debt to save up enough cash.
I have also had the mind-numbing experience of dealing with pushy realtors on both sides. I have been shown apartments with holes in the floor and taken on wild goose chases with realtors who sometimes have never set foot in the apartment they are showing charging me to broker. I have also come home from work to find a realtor showing my apartment to strangers with no notice or even courtesy request.
This whole situation takes power away from the renter, making the prospect of going through all of this another time reason enough to stay in a bad apartment or with a bad landlord. New York City recently banned realtor fees for rental units. I think we should do the same in Massachusetts to bring a little bit of sanity back to the process of finding a place to live.
Catia managed the Infrastructure Investment Incentive (I-Cubed) program while working in the Governor's budget office. The program is designed to harness new economic activity that expands the state tax base to fund public infrastructure.
From her experience, Catia understands the contours of bad deals with developers, and has overseen the tools to measure and enforce compliance with deals that are good for the taxpayers. She has also seen failures in some of these contexts to be inclusive of our communities of color and those with more limited means - for example, in the broader Seaport redevelopment in Boston.
Catia will apply these principles to promoting an increase in the housing supply that addresses the crisis of affordability in the long-term while also encouraging liveable communities that are more environmentally friendly and welcoming to live in, that are inclusive and responsive to the needs of people who are often left out of decision-making.