Green Line expansion increases push for rent control in Somerville

“Some places are going to benefit, but other places are going out of business”


When planning for the Green Line Extension was started in 2006, it was exciting for many Somerville residents who would finally have access to more of Boston on the T. After the first station on the extension opened at Union Square in March 2022, people from around the city got on the T just to ride to the new location.

However, the Green Line Extension brought more than just transportation to Somerville – gentrification made its way to Union Square as investors bought up properties near the proposed transit line. Although the extension was meant to serve the lower-income residents of Somerville, it has also contributed to the rising rents that are driving them out, leaving advocates asking for one thing: development without displacement.

“It is far past time for Somerville to have mass transit like the Green Line,” said Nicole Eigbrett, the director of community organizing at the Community Action Agency of Somerville. “Most importantly, though, we don’t want to abandon the reality that many residents are being pushed out from Somerville and losing their homes because of this.”

The gentrification intensified by the Green Line Extension is just one symptom of the problem. Activists agree that public transit is a necessary public good and halting its expansion is not an option. 

Instead, their proposed solution is rent control, which was banned by a statewide referendum in 1994. 

Currently at the statehouse is the Tenant Protection Act, a bill that would remove the prohibition on rent control, allowing cities and towns to locally create rent stabilization policies to protect lower-income renters. Somerville Ward 3 City Councilor Ben Ewen-Campen said that this solution is not instantaneous and requires greater support across the state. 

“This is about building political power for working-class people…  in order to get this over the finish line,” Ewen-Campen said.


This is a part of a video series produced in Jody Santos’ course “Video News Reporting and Producing” at Northeastern University. Over the semester, students will be producing news packages addressing sustainability, climate change and transit justice within Greater Boston.


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