The Initiative

The Somerville Gentrification Project (SGP) is a community-university partnership project that consists of four community-based organizations in Somerville – Somerville Community Corporation (SCC), The Welcome Project, Somerville Homeless Coalition, Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) – as well as Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department.  

The project came about in 2015 after a yearlong series of discussions convened by the Tufts Community Research Center (TCRC) on gentrification in Somerville.  Upon conclusion, the TCRC conveners proposed a community-based project that worked to empower residents in regards to the city’s issue of gentrification.  Contrary to typical academic research, the project’s aim was not to define or measure gentrification in the City of Somerville.  Instead, the project set out to understand how residents of Somerville perceive and experience gentrification in their neighborhoods, particularly in light of considerable development expected with the proposed Green Line Extension.  Collecting resident narratives proved crucial because census or government data on gentrification oftentimes lack the qualitative accounts on why people move or how residents deal with the challenges of rising housing costs and neighborhood changes.

Throughout the last year, the Somerville Gentrification Project has completed the research preparation, research design, data collection, and data entry portions of the project.  As of December 2016, the Somerville Gentrification Project has concluded analysis of the survey data and has written a preliminary report of the findings.  Project partners will soon convene to discuss the implications of the findings and any project modifications that might be necessary.  Concrete next steps for the project is pending but may include holding a “Listening and Learning” session with residents, local community organizations and Somerville public officials in order to for the research team to present the findings and allow participants to discuss how to address the City’s issues of displacement and gentrification.