Funding for the Trust

95 Pine St

The Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust receives significant financial support through the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Adopted by the Cambridge City Council and Cambridge voters in 2001, CPA is a financing tool for Massachusetts communities to leverage funds to preserve open space, protect historic sites, and expand and preserve the supply of affordable housing. CPA funds are the most important source of funding for the Trust, both in amount and in the availability of funds through an annual appropriation made by the City Council after a public process to determine how funds are allocated among CPA-eligible uses.

Each year, residents have opportunities to comment on how CPA funds should be used for City programs. The Community Preservation Act Committee holds hearings each year to hear testimony as it considers and makes its recommendation on how CPA funds should be allocated among CPA-eligible uses including affordable housing. Since its inception, the City’s Community Preservation Act Committee has recommended, and the City Council has appropriated, 80% of CPA funds to the Affordable Housing Trust. In Fiscal Year 2014 the Trust received $8,240,000 through this appropriation.

The Affordable Housing Trust also benefits from funds generated by the City’s Incentive Zoning Ordinance. Adopted by the City Council in 1988, the Ordinance requires non-residential developers with large-scale projects to mitigate the impact of their development through a contribution to the Trust. The current contribution is $16.66 per square foot. While receipts of funds through the Ordinance are less predictable than the annual allocation of CPA funds, Incentive Zoning funds have been a critical resource for the Trust for many years.

In 2000, Harvard University launched the Harvard 20/20/2000 program, which provided the Trust with $6 million of low-interest loan funds for affordable housing in Cambridge. The Trust continues to administer these funds and uses these loan funds to assist in the creation and preservation of affordable housing.

In addition to these sources, donations by individuals (often anonymous) are also made to support the Trust’s efforts to preserve and expand affordable housing in Cambridge.

For More Information

For more information, please contact Chris Cotter, Housing Director, at 617/349-4634 or