Inclusionary Housing Program for Developers

Wheeler Street

The Cambridge City Council passed an Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance in 1998 which has created more than 450 units of affordable rental and ownership housing completed in new developments located throughout the city. With an emphasis on creating affordable units on-site as part of new residential developments, the Ordinance has become a model for other communities looking to address affordability for lower-income residents in high-cost areas, and has worked to ensure that the socio-economic diversity of the community is reflected in new housing.

The Ordinance applies to new residential developments or buildings converted to residential use which create 10 or more new housing units or over 10,000 square feet of residential space. The Ordinance requires that 15% of the base units in the building be affordable. Developers may be eligible for a density bonus of up to 30% of the floor area and unit count allowed by the base zoning district.

Housing developers must comply with the requirements of the Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance prior to obtaining a building permit, and should contact the Housing Division in advance of their application for a building permit to begin the compliance review and approval process. To begin the process, contact Linda Prosnitz, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4619 or lprosnitz@cambridgema.gov.  

Developers will submit an Inclusionary Housing Plan Summary Form and supporting documents for review by the Housing Division.

The required application document can be found here

The information on the plan will be used to review the number, type, and location of required inclusionary units. Developers propose which units will be designated as inclusionary for review and approval by the Housing Division to ensure the designated units meet the Ordinance requirements.

Inclusionary housing units are representative of the entire project, including locations, unit types, sizes, finishes, and amenities. The interior and exterior finishes of the market rate and inclusionary units mirror those of market rate units. Once the designated inclusionary housing units are approved, the City prepares an Affordable Housing Covenant which identifies the inclusionary units and outlines the affordability requirements.  Inclusionary housing units are required to be permanently affordable.

Developers should contact the Housing Division to discuss expected affordable rents and sales prices. The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance requires a range of incomes within an inclusionary project. Rents for inclusionary housing units are set so that tenants pay no more than 30% of their income for rent and utilities. Rents for tenants with housing vouchers are set in consultation with the subsidizing agency and generally reflect the income target of the Ordinance for households earning 65% of the area median income. 

The Housing Division sets sales prices of inclusionary homeownership units prior to making them available to income-eligible buyers. Prices are set to be affordable to households making 65% of the area median income paying 30% of their income for  mortgage, condominium fees, taxes and insurance costs.  Prices vary according to unit size, mortgage interest rates, condominium and other fees for each development. Developers should contact the Housing Division to discuss sales prices as inclusionary developments near completion.

The Housing Division works with developers and owners of inclusionary units to identify and approve eligible tenants and homebuyers for inclusionary units. As developments approach completion, developers should contact the Housing Division to review the City's marketing and resident selection processes. The Housing Division markets available units, accepts applications, and reviews and approves applicants for inclusionary homeownership units. 

The Division identifies eligible applicants for rental units through its Rental Applicant Pool

Eligible applicants for inclusionary rental units are referred to property owners or managers for review (credit, CORI and landlord references) and approval using standards applied to other applicants. Sales contracts or leases for inclusionary units are executed between the selected applicant and the building owner.

For More Information

For more information about the Inclusionary Housing Program, please contact Linda Prosnitz, Housing Planner, at 617/349-4619 or lprosnitz@cambridgema.gov.