During 2022, Cambridge continued to chip away at its housing to-do list.
The City Council
- enacted a 66% increase in the linkage fee that commercial developments pay to help build affordable housing and
- ended all city requirements that new buildings provide parking spaces.
- The two-year-old Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) helped initiate four new developments in four neighborhoods (Jefferson Park Federal, Sacred Heart Church, 116 Norfolk, 1627 Mass Ave).
- The Alewife Quad Working Group progressed toward a new zoning regime for a large underdeveloped section of the city.
- Toward year-end, discussions began on a proposal to strengthen and expand the Affordable Housing Overlay.
- On a slower track, the Council and Planning Board separately held several hearings on how comprehensively exclusionary zoning requirements should be ended.
In the past year, A Better Cambridge
- organized virtual presentations
- supported tenant protection measures in the state legislature,
We watched and listened – sometimes cheering, sometimes groaning – during many meetings of the Planning Board and the Board of Zoning Appeals. We supported reforms in the selection and operation of those boards and applauded when some of the changes were put into effect.
When we later look back at 2022, the year may prove to have been a turning point in the struggle to overcome the nation’s chronic shortage of housing. National media spread awareness that the US deficit of 3.8 million homes is not just an issue for big cities on the coasts, but a problem experienced across the country. The disappearance of the starter home and the widespread steep climb in housing costs are now recognized as having social consequences that negatively affect our way of life, as surely as they’re increasing homelessness and harming the economy.
While news about the consequences of the national housing crisis has spread, acceptance of the necessary remedies has been slower in coming – change doesn’t come easily to some of our neighbors. We’re grateful for the time and energy that so many of you have given to bring our city this far along. We hope that you will work with us this year to spread the news more widely and loudly, to increase funding for affordable housing, and to remove the barriers that prevent Cambridge from rationally and humanely reducing our housing shortage.