After several delays, major construction is slated to begin on the MBTA's Green Line extension project through the Massachusetts cities of Somerville and Medford. However, years before it is even scheduled to be finished, many are already feeling its impact.
"There are dozens of people who I love who can't afford to live here anymore," said longtime Somerville resident Bill Shelton.
In recent years, the renter-friendly city has become more expensive due to the anticipation of the project. Many residents have complained that their rental fees have increased by hundreds of dollars per month, especially in the area of Union Square.
A 2014 report by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council found that over the next 15 years, monthly rents could increase more than 25 percent to 67 percent at units located near T stops.
"The closer we get to the opening of the T, the more difficult they will find it to make their rent," Shelton explained. "I'm not saying we shouldn't get the Green Line, I'm saying we should it manage it wisely."
In order to manage it, there has been an increased effort to create and maintain affordable housing projects.
"Now that we are getting this amenity, for low and moderate income people not to be able to access that really would be a shame," said Daniel LeBlanc, CEO of the Somerville Community Corporation.
The latest news from around the state
In response to the rapid growth of the community, LeBlanc said his nonprofit has been working to sustain equitable housing for families of all backgrounds. The work has included partnerships with the city, which has enabled LeBlanc's organization to purchase properties and keep the cost of the rent in them low.
"Transportation is a good thing," LeBlanc said, "And our issue is that we want low and moderate income people to be able to take advantage of it."
The concerns, which have been expressed at the city and state level, have been countered by some enthusiasm. Businesses throughout the communities along the new extension are expecting some boost.
"It's hard, but I think it's good," said Robert Rendon, who owns Cantina La Mexicana in Union Square.
Over the last few years, Rendon has seen the pros and cons of new development in his community. While many of his regular customers have been priced out, he expects new ones will soon arrive.
"We're going to lose more people, but more people come," Rendon explained. "It's good for some people, but not everybody."
It will still be several years before the project is even completed, according to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. Construction will ramp up on the line in 2018.