Tim Logan’s article “Agreement on Union Sq. project near” (Business, July 11) captures the significance of the tentative community benefits agreement, or CBA, reached between the master developer US2 and the Union Square Neighborhood Council. Once finalized, the commitments to affordable housing, hiring rules, workforce development investments, and green and open public spaces will help ensure that the people of Somerville benefit from the development.
This imminent victory was also the direct result of five years of visioning and organizing by Union United, a diverse, community-based coalition rooted in Union Square. Its members are multiethnic residents, workers, immigrant business owners, local nonprofits, food growers, and people of faith who are committed to a vision for a neighborhood that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable. They have a clear demand: development without displacement.
Union United introduced the idea for an enforceable CBA as part of the transit-oriented development. Members testified at public meetings, met with elected officials and developers, and built consensus among local allies. Resident-led community tours and rallies allowed decision makers to hear directly from families and local businesses facing unscrupulous rent increases.
This community organizing has been key to ensuring that a multimillion-dollar CBA, with community oversight, can and should be a part of this project, and that the city and developer must engage in a transparent and accountable public process.
A number of current and past members of the Union United coalition contributed in drafting this letter.