Cambridge elects pro-housing City Council; ABC celebration next Thursday

ABC heartily congratulates the six ABC-endorsed candidates elected to the 2024-2025 City Council: challengers Jivan Sobrino-Wheeler and Ayesha Wilson will join incumbents Burhan Azeem, Marc McGovern, Sumbul Siddiqui, and Denise Simmons on a solidly pro-housing City Council!

Voters made clear that housing remains the #1 issue facing Cambridge, and they expect action.

ABC expresses its sincere gratitude to Adrienne Klein, Joe McGuirk, and Frantz Pierre for running terrific, spirited campaigns on a pro-housing agenda. We recognize outgoing Councillors Alanna Mallon and Quinton Zondervan for their support in expanding the Affordable Housing Overlay, and thank them and Councillor Dennis Carlone for their service to the city. We congratulate incumbents Patty Nolan and Paul Toner along with challenger Joan Pickett on their victories. Finally, we want to thank all the candidates who attended our forum and filled out our questionnaire. The election was very competitive, running through 17 counts, with nearly all Councillors winning through vote transfers.

Lastly, a huge thank you to the ABC field team and volunteers who knocked on over 7,000 doors across Cambridge campaigning for the ABC slate. Well done!

Victory Party!

Join us next Thursday (11/16) from 6 - 8pm at Zuzu Restaurant (part of the Middle East) in Central Square to celebrate the election results, socialize with the pro-housing community, and talk about our hopes for the next term. ABC will cover food and there will be a cash bar, so please RSVP

All are welcome! We hope to see you there - we’ve all earned a celebration!

ABC’s Vision

Our core values are housing abundance, affordability, and stability. We had major achievements this past term, notably expanding the Affordable Housing Overlay, along with ending parking minimums and reforming neighborhood conservation districts. Looking ahead, we have an opportunity to make more progress by reforming Cambridge’s outdated zoning code and increasing the City’s investment in housing.

Build More Homes

It’s time for the Council to turn its attention to broad-based zoning reform. The Council should promptly end exclusionary zoning by allowing multi-family housing by right in all parts of the city. The exclusionary zoning in place today is based on a legacy of racism and classism that dates back to redlining, and is so restrictive that a majority of existing residential buildings would be illegal if rebuilt under the current zoning code. These exclusionary zoning rules promote suburban sprawl, deepen patterns of segregation, and undermine housing affordability. The time to end them has come.

The Council should also prioritize transit-oriented development by allowing significantly increased density within walking distance of MBTA stations, including squares such as Porter and Central.

There is widespread evidence that the U.S. needs a substantial amount of new housing and that new housing lowers nearby rents. And when paired with existing inclusionary zoning requirements, new development will add to the city’s stock of income-restricted housing as well.

Put Our Money Where Our Mouth Is

The words “affordable housing” were on every candidates’ website but one and housing consistently tops the list of residents’ concerns. Now, the City should further reflect its values in its fiscal year 2025 budget. We can start by increasing contributions to the Affordable Housing Trust. The City can also increase funding for legal counsel and related services to tenants facing eviction, and better enforce existing tenant protections while ensuring that tenants know their rights (many don’t).

Lastly, the City should consider whether it has the institutional capacity it needs to tackle the housing crisis, including enough staff to conduct multiple concurrent zoning reform initiatives. The City would be wise to consider a new housing department that could be tasked with coordinating reform initiatives, as well as collecting real-time data on the state of the housing market.

Here’s to a productive next term!