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Somerville residents protest rent increases, gentrification near Green Line Extension

"This is a no-fault eviction. They just want them out and they're allowed to ask them to leave for no reason."

Somerville resident Santos Cruz holds a demonstration sign outside of her home where she and her husband, along with four other families, are at imminent risk of displacement after BBD Holdings LLC bought their building and abruptly raised rents by 74 percent. Carlin Stiehl/The Boston Globe

Somerville residents are making their voices heard when it comes to housing issues.

A crowd of about 70 people gathered Sunday afternoon on Tremont Street, near Union Square, to call attention to soaring rent prices and the imminent evictions of five families living nearby, The Boston Globe reported

The event, organized by Community Action Agency of Somerville, focused on highlighting the experiences of people like Jose Oge, an Uber driver who lives at 182-184 Tremont St. with his wife, a newborn child, and his wife’s 67-year-old grandmother, according to the paper. 

Oge told the Globe that his wife is healing from a cesarean section delivery a few months ago, and only two household members can work. The family had been paying $1,261 a month for their two-bedroom apartment, but was notified in July that rent would increase to $1,800, according to the paper. Halfway through last month, Oge and his family were told they would have to move out by Sept. 30. 

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BBD Holding LLC bought the building, and plans to tear it down, organizers of the rally told the paper. 

“This is a no-fault eviction. They just want them out and they’re allowed to ask them to leave for no reason. … The five families here are part of our community and we’re here to make sure that they’re not going anywhere,” Samantha Wolfe, a community organizer from CAAS, told the Globe.

Fabiano Latham, a spokesman for CAAS, said that the evictions of Oge and four other families in the building are tied to the expansion of the Green Line. This is “another brutal example of the tidal wave of gentrification sweeping the new Green Line Extension corridor,” he told the Globe

Rally organizers demanded that lawmakers create a comprehensive plan to ease the sting of unaffordable rent spikes and calm the housing market factors that lead to residents and small businesses being displaced, according to the Globe. This should be done, they said, in a special fall session to address this housing crisis. 

One official in attendance was J.T. Scott, Somerville ward two city councilor, who voiced his support for those rallying. 

“These are my neighbors and they need our help,” Scott said, according to the Globe. “The situation they’re in is abhorrent. It should not be a thing that is allowed. And the fact that this is a thing that is allowed, that is legal, is a failure of policymakers at every level.”

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