I am a dedicated public servant, I am continually impressed by the people and services here, and I am looking to continue to serve Cambridge residents by taking on a role where I can have even more impact. I advocate for inclusive access to infrastructure and services including housing, transportation, and childcare. I envision a Cambridge where opportunities are increasing, where locally-owned businesses flourish and all residents are represented by their government and service providers. I will fight tirelessly for a just legal system and to protect the environment for future generations here in Cambridge. By voting for me, you are voting for a candidate who will stand up to ensure a Cambridge that uplifts everyone.
What is your personal experience of housing in Cambridge and how has that affected your decision to run for city council? Do you rent or own? Have you ever lived in public or subsidized housing?
My husband and I were able to purchase our home in 2022 via an affordable housing lottery operated by the City’s Community Development Department for first-time home buyers. Prior to that we lived in subsidized housing in Cambridge. We also lived in a market rate unit, and I have previously rented at market rate in Cambridge. Without the lottery we wouldn’t have been able to stay in Cambridge and we understand the difficulties of surviving in Cambridge on a limited income. That absolutely influences my policy priorities, positions and will continue to drive my approach to problem solving.
As City Councillor, what would be your top priorities to address our housing crisis?
There are no easy answers here, but we need investment, education and creativity to find solutions.
1) Build more housing: I support the Affordable Housing Overlay, limiting non-residential development in our commercial squares and along major corridors, and allowing for multi-family housing in every neighborhood.
2) Protect existing homeowners and renters before they are displaced: Revamp Cambridge’s inclusionary housing programs which includes expanding middle income homeownership; initiate technical assistance programs that connect residents with vendors and information, like the newly introduced Electrify Cambridge; exploring ways to cap rent increases and end brokers fees, and City investment in the creation of and support for tenant councils and unions.
3) Update Zoning: Ensure multi-unit home options including the subdivision of larger homes and the creation of triple-deckers, duplexes, and other apartments is possible in every neighborhood in Cambridge; explore social housing options and mixed use development by getting creative and considering municipally owned land and/or housing.
As Councillor, will you champion efforts to end exclusionary zoning in Cambridge by reforming the zoning code to allow, at minimum, four-story multi-family housing by right in all Cambridge neighborhoods?
Generally Yes. I agree that exclusionary zoning continues to uphold structures of systematic harm. I will support efforts to end exclusionary zoning in Cambridge and to simplify the zoning code so that more multi-family and multi-use development becomes possible. The housing needs to meet the demand, so I support creating housing that families can utilize. I also believe the City must consider purchasing properties as an investment and then allowing development on that land while retaining rights to the first floor, allowing for innovative future programming that could support small businesses.
In conjunction with direct support for affordable housing and inclusionary zoning requirements, do you believe that new market-rate housing development is a key pillar in making Cambridge an affordable city?
Generally Yes. I agree that continued development of market rate housing is necessary for Cambridge to become a more affordable city. There is not currently enough housing stock which drives up prices. While subsidies and incentives should be directed to the affordable stock, zoning and development review procedures should welcome new housing, and permitting procedures should be clear, navigable and timely so that anyone interested in building housing can get through the process.
Do you believe Cambridge should go further to promote transit-oriented housing development, such as allowing greater height and density within walking distance of MBTA stations?
Yes. Building near transit allows the City to create the needed units to house our growing population, while also providing the environmental benefit of reducing single-car trips. It is key to promote transit-oriented development and as an elected official, I would listen to recommendations and advocate for the particular needs of any neighborhood around specific development projects.
Do you support the proposed Alewife overlay district?
Do you support also rezoning the Fresh Pond shopping center?
Generally Not. I generally do not support adding additional overlay districts as the priority should be simplifying the existing zoning code and creating a whole city plan versus neighborhood specific zoning. I thoroughly support negotiating developer-funded infrastructure improvements. Finally, I do not support rezoning the Fresh Pond shopping center until there has been increased residential building in other neighborhoods in Cambridge.
Do you support the proposal to expand the Affordable Housing Overlay to allow more height for 100% affordable housing development in major squares (15 stories) and corridors (12 stories)?
Yes. I support the expanded Affordable Housing Overlay, which focuses growth toward production of affordable housing and concentrates it in areas well-served by transit. This zoning change does not mean every building will grow to 12-15 stories or do so overnight; rather, it sends a signal that as a city, Cambridge is pro-growth, anti-displacement and excited to partner to secure more housing opportunities for our families. As an elected official, I would listen to recommendations and advocate for the particular needs of any neighborhood around specific development projects. The AHO is simply a way to respond to another form of feedback: the pressing needs of the thousands who, year after year, are looking for an affordable place to call home.
Do you support further increasing city funding for affordable housing to 10% of the City budget?
Generally Yes. The AHT needs additional funding, and I would advocate for increases through multiple sources. First, it’s important to note that encouraging development or implementing zoning reforms in line with ABC’s advocacy for commercial or mixed use development could itself create substantial AHT revenue. In addition to one-time contributions, ongoing revenue is also needed. I’m more concerned with growing the overall amount to meet residents’ needs than establishing an abstract percentage goal tied to the operating budget. With that said, to further link market rate housing growth to affordable housing, I would support linking a portion of new property tax revenues from market rate development to contribute to the AHT on an ongoing basis.
How can Cambridge better protect tenants against displacement?
Tenants need to understand their rights better, they need to have access to legal representation, and they need to have access to flexible funding sources that can be deployed quickly. They also need to have access to more affordable housing. I support the Tenant Displacement Task Force recommendations, with the first step to ensure tenants are aware of and can more easily access the existing programs by streamlining application processes, providing more technical support and accompaniment to tenants is key to improving access. This aligns with the Task force’s recommendation of a “One-Stop-Shop’’ for housing stabilization. I would advocate to leverage available stock by considering incentives to landlords accepting Sect. 8 vouchers and to advocate that the city explore funding municipal vouchers. I support developing multi-unit home options which means allowing the subdivision of larger homes and the creation of triple-deckers, duplexes, and other apartments across Cambridge. We also need to strengthen legal support for tenants facing eviction. Finally, I support the City Council’s adoption of a Tenants’ Right to Organize Ordinance to reinforce protections.
ABC has repeatedly supported state legislation enabling cities to better protect tenants. Do you support such legislation?
If something like it passed, what kind of city tenant protections would you favor? Would you support any kind of rent stabilization, such as the petition from Mayor Wu, which would cap rent increases at a maximum of 10% while exempting new construction, along with requiring just cause for eviction?
I support Bill H.1378 allowing Cambridge to implement policies appropriate to protect tenant’s rights and support diversity in residency. I would support requiring just cause for evictions, working to eliminate tenant paid-broker fees, regulating condominium conversion, and capping rent increases.
Do you believe we have a climate obligation to pursue greater density city-wide and allow more people to live here?
Yes. We need to make investments that address our twin crisis of climate and housing affordability. Cambridge is going to need more housing, and by increasing housing density, we can reduce sprawl and traffic congestion, make more efficient use of land, and plan strategically to advance multiple goals. By using urban infill in order to balance green spaces with urban use spaces, Cambridge would be providing pleasant places for people to live, green businesses, and a more environmentally friendly neighborhood in general.
Do you favor an at-large system over a ward-based system?
Generally Yes. I will refer to the recommendations of the Charter Review Committee tasked with the comprehensive review of the options provided by the Collins Center.
The City Council is currently considering NCD reforms which would increase diversity on boards and commissions, amplify the voices of renters, exempt affordable housing, and enforce term limits. Do you believe these bodies need reform generally?
Do you support the proposed NCD reforms specifically?
Generally Yes. I agree that these bodies need reform in order to ensure more representative membership and participation in decision making. I support some of the NCD reforms. I will need more time to review and consider the impact of the reforms on effective operation of the land use boards.
Would you support combining the City’s housing functions in a new Housing Department headed by a new Assistant City Manager, or is there an alternative approach to organization / staffing you would support? How specifically would you hold the City Manager and city staff accountable for meeting housing goals?
Housing must be a clear priority for the City, reorganizing the city’s housing functions and creating an executive level position to streamline services would indicate an investment in and focus on housing but it would not be enough. I would support funding additional positions either within all of those departments or a new centralized department, and clearer coordination including co-location, streamlining of data collection and information sharing to ensure everyone is “pulling” in the same direction. I would also support including housing goals in the annual evaluation of the City Manager, increased transparency and tracking of units created, residents displaced, and tying budget increases including salary incentives to meeting housing goals.
Do you have anything else you’d like to highlight about your candidacy?
I have extensive experience working as an individual advocate and providing constituent services to residents here in Cambridge. I have a strong understanding of where there are unmet needs and what gaps exist currently in the operations of our municipal government. My entire career has been focused on helping marginalized groups access resources and justice. The breadth and depth of my experience informs my decision making and my prioritization. I have a strong ability to bridge divides and am unafraid to work with everyone to build consensus. I am not pedantic or single issue focused but willing to continue to learn, ask and rely on the expertise of the city staff and others. I am ethical and not afraid to stand up against ingrained power structures, my politics are personal. I have a proven track record of collaborative work, seeking thoughtful solutions and determination to solve problems for our citizens.