Cambridge Named a Housing Choice Community for Second Time


8/5/2020

The City of Cambridge has again been designated as a Housing Choice Community through the Commonwealth’s Housing Choice Initiative which recognizes communities that are planning for and building the housing stock that the Commonwealth needs to continue to thrive. This designation recognizes communities that have successfully created new housing, adopted best practices for growth and sustainable development, and encouraged and invested in the creation of affordable housing, and renews the initial designation Cambridge received when the Housing Choice Initiative was first launched.

One of 64 Housing Choice Communities, this designation gives the City of Cambridge access to a competitive capital grant program, and advantages in applications to nine other state capital grants, including MassWorks, MassDOT Complete Streets, EEA Community Investment Grants.

“Creating and preserving affordable housing remains the City’s highest priority. In FY19, I made a commitment to double the amount of funding to support affordable housing, and I am proud that the funding in this year’s budget will allow the City to reach this goal,” said Cambridge City Manager Louis A. DePasquale. “Through FY20, the City has appropriated more than $219 million to invest in affordable housing initiatives. Housing affordability promotes stability for our residents and allows for building the social, economic, and cultural bonds that strengthen our community.”

The City of Cambridge directly funds affordable housing, and last year provided more than $20 million in city funds to create and preserve affordable housing. This funding is expected to increase to more than $27 million in this year, and will reflect a doubling of funding for affordable housing over the past 2 years.

In the past year, Cambridge approved permits for more than 650 new housing units, bringing the total of new homes created over the past 5 years to more than 3,750. While working to expand the overall housing stock, the City of Cambridge continues to promote and invest in affordable housing. Under the city’s inclusionary housing provisions, 20% of new residential development must be affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents.

“We are pleased to once again receive the Housing Choice designation, since it recognizes our efforts to support the creation and preservation of affordable housing in Cambridge” said Iram Farooq, Assistant City Manager for Community Development. “We have accomplished much, but there is more to do, and we will continue to work with our housing partners to take advantage of opportunities to create affordable housing.”

The City of Cambridge collaborates with local affordable housing providers and Cambridge Housing Authority to create new affordable housing. Below are some highlights for the past year:

  • Completed Finch Cambridge on Concord Avenue where new residents are now moving in to 98 rental units affordable to low-, moderate-, and middle-income households. The largest new affordable development in the city in more than 40 years, and the first multifamily building built to achieve “Passive House Certification,” Finch Cambridge was made possible by a direct investment of more than $25 million in City funds;
  • Completed reconstruction of 16 affordable units lost at St. Patrick’s Place in the 2016 Wellington-Harrington fire;
  • Agreed on terms and committed City funding needed to preserve 504 rental units where affordability commitments are set to expire this year;
  • Started construction on 63 new affordable rental units at 2 developments in Porter Square and outside Kendall Square;
  • Financed the purchase of 52 New Street for creation of an all-affordable housing development, and worked with affordable housing providers to prepare proposals for more than 200 new affordable housing units which will be advanced in FY21.