Housing Preservation Projects

122 Mt Auburn St

Preserving Affordability in Cambridge

The Housing Division works to protect and extend affordability in privately-owned housing where affordability restrictions are at risk of expiring in the coming years. These so-called “expiring use” properties have underlying affordability requirements stemming from below-market loans, loan guarantees, or other agreements which assisted in their construction many years ago. Expiring affordability agreements could potentially affect thousands of affordable units in Massachusetts.

In Cambridge, these units have provided affordable housing for decades and have been critical resources for the community. In many cases these buildings are in areas where replacing affordable units lost would not be possible. Recognizing this, and the impact of losing these units on residents and the community, expiring use preservation has been a top priority of CDD. In developing plans to address this growing issue, the City identified more than 1,000 units facing expiring restrictions by 2020. CDD has staff available to assist owners in developing preservation plans, and to respond when preservation opportunities arise. The Affordable Housing Trust has also recognized the pressing need to preserve expiring use housing, and has made funds available to assist in the City's preservation efforts.

Recently the City, working in conjunction with owners, advocates, tenants, non-profit housing providers, the Cambridge Housing Authority and other agencies has successfully preserved affordability of more than 230 units at five of these properties:

  • Bishop Allen Apartments: In March 2012, CPA funds were provided to enable Just-A-Start Corporation to purchase and preserve four privately-owned 8-unit buildings on the corners of Norfolk and Bishop Allen. Formerly known as Norstin Apartments, affordability at this 32-unit development was due to expire in April 2012. 
  • Cambridge Court Apartments:  CPA funds from the Trust were provided to the private owner of this building in 2012 to refinance, renovate and preserve affordability at Cambridge Court Apartments, containing 122 units for seniors on Franklin Street.   
  • Chapman Arms Apartments: In December 2011, CPA funds were provided to assist HRI in purchasing the 50-unit Chapman Arms Apartments in Harvard Square, a mixed-income, mixed-use development containing 25 affordable units which will now be affordable for at least another 50 years.
  • Inman Square Apartments/CAST II Apartments: With Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding committed by the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust, Homeowners Rehab, Inc. (HRI) purchased and permanently preserved affordability at both Inman Square Apartments and CAST II Apartments, containing a combined total of 125 units. Renovations in each building were completed after HRI's purchase in 2011. 
  • Putnam Square/2 Mt. Auburn Street: In August 2013, Putnam Square Apartments was successfully purchased by local non-profit developer Homeowners Rehab, Inc. (HRI), thereby securing affordability of 94 apartments for seniors and disabled individuals. Built in the early 1970s by Harvard University, the development is located at 2 Mt. Auburn Street at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Mt. Auburn Street and Putnam Avenue, near Harvard Square

With more than 500 privately-owned units still facing affordability restrictions at risk of expiring, preservation will remain a priority. The Housing Division will continue to work with owners, tenants, non-profit housing partners, the Cambridge Housing Authority, and other public lenders to ensure the continued availability of these important housing resources for low and moderate income residents.

If you are a tenant and you are concerned about expiring use, click here to learn more about resources for tenants in expiring use buildings.