Affordable Housing Overlay

The 100% Affordable Housing Zoning Overlay is a proposed zoning change to make it easier and cheaper to build 100% affordable housing developments all across Cambridge. By giving a density bonus and a streamlined process to new housing construction if it is 100% affordable, it will make it financially feasible both to start building affordable housing in neighborhoods that currently have none, and to continue building affordable housing where rising land costs have made it increasingly difficult. This is a necessity if we want to combat segregation and unaffordability in Cambridge.

For more details on what the Overlay is, why it's needed, and busting common misconceptions, check out AHO Reality. For official information about the Overlay, such as the most recent draft or FAQs answered by the city's Community Development Department, click here.

A Better Cambridge has been fighting for the AHO for over a year, ever since it emerged from the city's Envision Cambridge planning process. On September 9th, 2019, the Overlay was withdrawn by the City Council, with the intent of taking it up again after the 2019 municipal elections. Now that the elections are over, and a pro-Overlay supermajority has been elected, the Council is ready to act on the AHO. We need your help to get it over the finish line.

UPDATE (2020-07-08): Thank you to everyone who spoke at today's Ordinance Committee hearing! The future timeline goes as follows:

  • Planning Board will hear the AHO in early August (public comment allowed)
  • The Ordinance Committee will continue its hearing (without public comment), potentially consider amendments, and hopefully forward the AHO back to the City Council.
  • The City Council will (if all goes well) ordain the Overlay with two votes somewhere in September.

When a zoning petition is filed with the City Council, there will be at least one Planning Board hearing and one Ordinance Committee hearing, followed by at least two final City Council meetings on the topic. This page will be updated as we know more about the timeline, but showing a strong presence at all of these meetings is essential to making sure this gets done. For now, make sure you are subscribed to our action alerts, and consider joining A Better Cambridge as a member.

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  • Allan Sadun
    published this page 2020-02-16 10:41:32 -0500