ABC October News: eviction crisis, data workshop, & more

(Sent on Tuesday, October 20th.) While it’s a tremendous victory that the Affordable Housing Overlay has become law — thanks in huge part to your support — the state of housing in Massachusetts is currently dire. The governor’s eviction moratorium officially expired on October 17, putting tens of thousands of tenants at risk of housing insecurity even as winter is coming and COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Local and federal protections remain in effect, and the state has announced new rent relief for those in the state’s homelessness prevention program. If you know anyone at risk of displacement in Cambridge, please direct them to the City’s Housing Liaison. Somerville also provides local support through their Office of Housing Stability. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

The Historic Affordable Housing Overlay Is about to Pass. How Did It Overcome so Many Obstacles?

When the Affordable Housing Overlay was first unveiled a couple years ago, it proposed something that had never been done in the history of Cambridge: allowing construction of new affordable housing in all neighborhoods. The approach taken by the City has long been to allow more housing almost exclusively in formerly industrial parts of Cambridge: places like North Point, Kendall Square, and Alewife. Long-time residential neighborhoods have remained almost entirely off-limits to new housing. Continue reading

ABC September News: AHO, tenants’ rights, Porter Square project, & more

(Sent on September 25th, 2020.) On Monday, October 5th, the Cambridge City Council will cast its final vote on the Affordable Housing Overlay. We will send an email soon with further details, but mark your calendars now! The Overlay will make it feasible for desperately needed 100% affordable housing projects to be built in every neighborhood of the city, putting a dent in Cambridge’s legacy of de facto segregation.We are so grateful to everyone who has fought so hard to make the Overlay a reality. The more support and gratitude we can give Councilors for finally passing the Overlay, the more likely they are to continue to stand up to NIMBYs and champion pro-housing, pro-equity measures in the future. Continue reading

ABC August News: Upcoming walking tour, AHO, Portland, & more

(Sent on August 21st, 2020.) On Saturday, September 12th, at 2pm, we will be having a Pro-Housing Walking Tour of Cambridgeport and Riverside neighborhoods. We’ll explore the built environment and talk about the history of housing construction in the area. RSVP here -- for safety, we are limiting the size of the group and requiring masks for all attendees. We hope you can join us! Continue reading

Black Lives Matter

(Sent on June 8th, 2020.) Black lives matter. The horrific murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people have shown once again how deeply rooted racism is in the United States. For centuries, our institutions have cast Black Americans as second-class citizens who are not afforded the same rights and opportunities as their fellow citizens. It's a plague that not only afflicts the criminal justice system, but all areas of society. We hope the inspiring protests we've seen across the country will finally force our elected leaders to take the necessary steps to end police brutality and begin to reverse the pernicious effects of systemic racism. Continue reading

ABC February Newsletter: the Overlay, linkage fee results, and more

(Sent on Tuesday, February 25th, 2020.) While the big news this month is the renewed fight to pass the Affordable Housing Overlay, there’s a lot on the horizon - from more educational events, to neighborhood conservation discussions, to a potential rezoning in Central Square. If you are interested in helping us organize, please join A Better Cambridge as a member today. Continue reading

ABC January Newsletter: Conservation District, new Council, and more

(Sent on Friday, January 17, 2020.) We’d like to catch you up on what’s happened since last November, when Cambridge elected a new City Council with a super-majority of pro-housing councillors. (See our sister organization’s blog post for more statistics about the election.) This month, we’re celebrating Cambridge’s inauguration of that council, and we’re excited about the possibilities the coming term will bring. Continue reading

ABC Statement on CambridgeSide upzoning

A Better Cambridge supports the CambridgeSide redevelopment project that City Council approved in December. With 175,000 square feet of planned residential development, 65 percent of which will be low- or middle-income affordable housing, the project will add much-needed homes to our city. Moreover, it will contribute $7 million to the Affordable Housing Trust. Our organization recognizes that the changing retail landscape threatened the future of the mall, making redevelopment necessary to save it and retain its diversity of shopping options. Community benefits, such as the revitalization of the First Street corridor, a $9 million contribution to the East End House, and $1.3 million for the East Cambridge Scholarship Fund, further make it a valuable project. As the project moves forward and permits are issued, the city needs to ensure that the housing component of the project doesn’t trail the commercial piece. The city should also push New England Development to produce as many units of housing as possible.  A Better Cambridge shares concerns that others have expressed regarding displacement pressures additional commercial development will cause in East Cambridge. Although 175,000 square feet of housing will be produced, new high-paid workers in the project's 400,000 square feet of office and lab space will put further upward pressure on area rents and home prices. To prevent the displacement of long-time residents and accommodate and welcome new workers who want to live in Cambridge, the City should loosen zoning restrictions that stifle the building of new homes, while also increasing linkage fees and taking other steps to incentivize housing production. Tenant protections must also be put in place to mitigate the impact of this development.

Testimony on Tenant Protection Legislation

A Better Cambridge's Testimony on Tenant Protection Legislation Delivered before the Joint Committee on Housing on January 14, 2020 Chairman Honan, Chairman Crighton, members of the Committee-- My name is Rebecca Schofield, and I am here on behalf of A Better Cambridge, an all-volunteer organization that believes for Cambridge to continue to live up to its promise, we must solve our housing affordability crisis. The solution has to involve producing more housing, especially affordable housing, in Cambridge and elsewhere to meet the critical regional demand. But it also requires protecting tenants from the immediate effects of this crisis. Continue reading