A Better Cambridge is committed to creating a more affordable, diverse, sustainable, and vibrant Cambridge. We believe that increasing housing, creating more affordable housing, and enhancing tenant protections are critical to ensuring more people can live here and stay here — our goal is to increase access to the opportunities our city provides, regardless of background or income. Through education and advocacy, we seek to impact the public conversation, include under-represented groups, and encourage thoughtful planning and policy.
A Better Cambridge fights for the following values, adopted May 2023:
Housing abundance. Cambridge should have enough homes for everyone who wants to live here. Our housing shortage has caused massive displacement and undermines our inclusivity. We must legalize multifamily housing in every neighborhood and add more housing along transportation corridors.
Housing affordability. Every resident should be able to find a home in Cambridge that they can afford. In addition to pushing market costs down, we must create and preserve deed-restricted affordable housing, and we must defend and expand public subsidy programs like rental vouchers and home-ownership assistance. The City has an opportunity to encourage affordable and mixed-income development through creative policies and local funding.
Housing stability. Tenants should not be at the mercy of their landlords. Cambridge needs to strengthen and protect tenants’ rights, both inside and outside of eviction proceedings. Many tenant protections require state approval, but we have the power to create a universal right to counsel in Cambridge right now while we join other cities in advocating for state-level reforms.
- Environmental sustainability. The single best way Cambridge can reduce carbon emissions is to build housing near transit, allowing more people to live more sustainably. Now that the City has ended mandatory parking minimums and will adopt a new stretch code to deepen and expand sustainable building standards, ABC will work with the Council and key community stakeholders to lower the carbon footprint of our built environment.
A Better Cambridge was founded in 2013 to oppose an attempt to halt development in Central Square, and have grown gradually in the years since. While we have supported and opposed many measures before the City Council and been involved (in one way or another) in most City Council elections, we are best known for our successful 2018-2020 advocacy for the 100% Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay, a zoning amendment which allowed by-right development of 100% affordable housing projects citywide, and has inspired similar proposals in Boston, Somerville, and Berkeley. (See blog post: How Did the AHO Come To Pass?) In spring 2021, we worked with Sunrise Boston to propose the Missing Middle Housing zoning petition, which would remove exclusionary bans on multi-family housing, as well as remove mandatory residential parking minimums, from the Cambridge zoning code.
A Better Cambridge is an all-volunteer, membership-based organization. We work to host educational events, advocate for a future that aligns with our values, and bring together a community of people who care about cities, housing, and creating change. We are also a member of Abundant Housing Massachusetts, an organization fighting for these values at the state level.
The organization is led by a Board of Directors comprising community members who have dedicated significant time to our activities for a sustained period of time. The Board helps steer the organization — setting direction and priorities in the efforts we pursue — and works with other members on projects and tasks. The Board members elect new Board members yearly.
Our members reflect a cross-section of the Cambridge community: renters, homeowners, working families, retirees, young people and others from across the city who are united in our efforts to help build a better Cambridge (click here to join as a member!). In addition to receiving our monthly newsletters, members have access to our Slack workspace and are invited to internal events such as book club meetings and planning meetings for projects and tasks. Members seeking greater involvement can also join the higher-traffic “Active ABCers” list, where we discuss and debate policy ideas and track project progress. If this sounds like the right space for you — reach out at [email protected]!
Our 2023 Co-chairs are:
Dan Phillips ([email protected])
Justin Saif ([email protected])
Becca Schofield ([email protected])
As of January 2023, our Board of Directors includes:
Bill McAvinney, Treasurer
Justin Saif, Board President
Join as a member to get involved!
Check out our sister organization, ABC IEPAC.