100 Percent Affordable Housing Overlay

100% Affordable Housing Overlay Infographic

Adopted by the City Council in October 2020, the 100%-Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) is designed to help affordable housing developers create new, permanently affordable homes more quickly, more cost effectively, and in areas of the city where there are currently fewer affordable housing opportunities. The AHO allows the creation of new, permanently affordable housing that is denser than what might be allowed under base zoning, and creates a new review process through which new affordable housing can be approved more efficiently.

Affordable housing developers often cannot compete with market-rate developers who can afford to pay more for land and buildings. There are also areas of the city where current zoning makes the creation of new affordable housing infeasible. Allowing affordable housing providers to build more densely than market-rate developers through the AHO will create new opportunities to create new, permanently affordable housing. Streamlining the approval process for new 100%-affordable housing will help reduce development costs and allow affordable housing providers to create new affordable units more quickly while using public funding more effectively.

Overlay Zoning Update in 2023

In October 2023, the City Council voted to amend the AHO, allowing taller heights for affordable housing developments in higher-density zoning districts, major squares, and mixed-use corridors, as well as reducing required setbacks citywide.

Affordable Housing Zoning Ordinance, as amended:

Affordable Housing Overlay Zoning Ordinance – see Article 11.207

Design Guidelines for Affordable Housing Overlay Developments:

AHO design guidelines


Proposed Affordable Housing Overlay Projects in the Pipeline:

Development Name/ Sponsor  Description/ # of Units

Sponsor Website

52 New Street

Just A Start Corp. (JAS)

New Construction

106 Rental Units

Jefferson Park Federal  (Jackson Place / Jackson Circle / Rindge Ave)

Cambridge Housing Authority

Preservation/New Construction

278 Rental Units 


Walden Square II

(Walden Square Road)


New Construction

95 Rental Units


49 6th Street

Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH)

New Construction

46 Rental Units


116 Norfolk Street

Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA)

Historic preservation/ New Construction

62 Rental Units


4 Mellen St / 1627 Massachusetts Ave

Homeowner's Rehab, Inc. (HRI)

Historic preservation/New Construction

29 Rental Units

87-101 Blanchard Road

B'nai B'rith Housing (BBH)

New Construction

110 Rental Units


30 Wendell Street 

Homeowner's Rehab Inc. (HRI)

New Construction

TBD Rental Units


35 Cherry Street

Just A Start Corp. (JAS)

New Construction

TBD Homeownership Units



Upcoming AHO Public Meetings:

Development Name/Sponsor  Date/Time  More Information
4 Mellen Street / 1627 Massachusetts Ave. / HRI              AHO Process is Complete 4 Mellen Street / 1627 Mass Ave. Previous Meetings
116 Norfolk Street / CHA AHO Process is Complete


116 Norfolk Street Previous Meetings

49 Sixth Street / POAH AHO Process is Complete 49 Sixth Street Previous Meetings
Walden Square II / WinnCompanies AHO Process is in Progress             

Walden Square II Previous Meetings


52 New Street /JAS

AHO Process is Complete

52 New Street Previous Meetings

Jefferson Park Federal / CHA AHO Process is Complete Jefferson Park Federal Previous Meetings 
87-101 Blanchard Road / BBH

Planning Board Design Advisory Meeting on June 4th at 6:30 p.m. Click here to register to participate or here to watch the recording.

87-101 Blanchard Road - Previous Meetings
30 Wendell Street / HRI AHO Process is in Progress 30 Wendell Street - Previous Meetings
35 Cherry Street / JAS AHO Process is in Progress
35 Cherry Street - Previous Meetings


More Information:

For updates and information, subscribe to the 100%-Affordable Housing Overlay email list

Learn more about how the idea for the 100%-Affordable Housing Overlay was generated, including materials related to the adoption of the ordinance.

For general questions about the AHO or to discuss potential AHO projects, please contact Cassie Arnaud, Senior Manager for Housing Development at carnaud@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4617.