Thursday, June 20, 2024

The former offices of the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers in Somerville’s Union Square. (Photo: MAPS)

The Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers vacated its Somerville office of 45 years on Friday after an order by the city to leave the 90-92 Union Square building by the end of the month, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

The nonprofit organization continues a two-year search for a smaller location that would let it keep offering “some” of its health and social services to the large Portuguese-speaking community in the city, but said it hasn’t found an affordable and accessible space that meets its needs. “Our organization started in Somerville, and so we hope to find a new, smaller location soon that would allow us to keep our essential presence in the city,” chief executive Paulo Pinto said.

The nonprofit plans an interim step: securing a space in Somerville open by appointment only and serving as a base for outreach, weekly health clinics, health insurance enrollment, citizenship drives and other community events, Pinto said.

For now, the nonprofit is directing Somervillians to contact Cambridge offices at 1046 Cambridge St., Wellington-Harrington, if they need help, or call (617) 864-7600. The organization offers weekly driver alcohol education and intimate partner abuse educational program classes remotely until there’s a new location, a spokesperson said.

Another nonprofit affected by the closing of the old Union Square firehouse, the Somerville Media Center, has found a temporary home at Somernova, a 7.4-acre innovation campus and community space about a half-mile away.

The city awarded $103,000 in federal Covid relief funds to support the move of MAPS’ offices within Somerville, said Denise Taylor, director of communications and community engagement for the city and senior policy adviser to the mayor.

The nonprofit paid a nominal rent at the firehouse over the past decades, according to the city, and now has been thrust into a market of exploding real estate values. Pinto called this “a difficult time for MAPS and our community. We have been part of the fabric of the city for five decades and played a critical role in helping build and create the progress that the city is experiencing, but unfortunately, we are now being pushed out.”

MAPS started as two organizations: the Somerville Portuguese-American League, which began serving the Portuguese-American community in the late 1960s, and the Cambridge Organization of Portuguese Americans, founded in 1970. They merged in 1993. The group helped members of the Portuguese-speaking community and others with health and social services including HIV/STI prevention and screening, youth programs, substance abuse prevention, immigrant integration, citizenship assistance, family support and stabilization, in-home therapy, support for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and the first licensed acupuncture detox clinic in the country. It has five offices, in Cambridge, Brighton, Dorchester, Framingham and Lowell.


This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.