Affordable Housing Overlay Passes

First-of-its-kind ordinance is expected to increase supply of affordable housing

Cambridge, Mass.: A Better Cambridge announces that the Cambridge City Council passed the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) tonight (October 5th), by a vote of 7–2. This upzoning ordinance makes it easier to build affordable housing in all neighborhoods of Cambridge, including those that have long resisted it. The greater density allowed under the AHO will help affordable housing developers compete with market-rate developers when land becomes available, which will increase diversity and further racial and economic equity in historically white and wealthy areas of the city.

ABC is proud to have supported the AHO from its inception and is grateful for the energy of our members and local housing allies, whose commitment was essential to its passage. “Not only will the AHO be a helpful tool for building more affordable housing throughout Cambridge, the passage of this ordinance also demonstrates the City’s commitment to housing equity,” says ABC co-chair Becca Schofield. “The ABC community is looking forward to supporting the new 100% affordable developments made possible by the AHO, as well as working with the Council to come up with more creative strategies for furthering sustainable, inclusive development in Cambridge.”

Councillors voting in favor were Alanna Mallon, Marc McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, E. Denise Simmons, Jivan Sobrinho-Wheeler, Tim Toomey, and Quinton Zondervan.

About A Better Cambridge: A Better Cambridge is an all-volunteer group committed to creating a more affordable, sustainable, and vibrant Cambridge. We believe that increasing housing, creating 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.