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Office of the Housing Liaison

Apartments

The Cambridge Office of the Housing Liaison was established in 2019 and is part of the City Manager’s Department. Staff in the Housing Liaison’s Office assist residents to access and navigate affordable housing opportunities, and to obtain eviction prevention, tenant displacement, and other housing related resources and services. The Liaison’s Office also serves as a point of contact for complex housing situations that effect tenants such as building sales, displacement from fires, and other multi household concerns.

The Office of Housing Liaison also partners with city departments including the Community Development Department (CDD) and the Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP), as well as with many affordable housing agencies, and local providers to address the affordable housing crisis in our community by implementing programs and policies that improve access and availability of housing opportunities.

There are many things to know about housing and, Cambridge has a wealth of resources and services however if you do not know where to start, contact the Office of the Housing Liaison.

Housing Information & Resources

Who do I contact for help with my housing-related questions?

Contact the Office of the Housing Liaison

  • Housing Liaison: Maura Pensak

email: mpensak@cambridgema.gov

phone: 617-349-6337

  • Housing Stabilization Advocate: Sylvia Kelly

email: skelly@cambridgema.gov

phone: 617-349-6343

Information on Housing-Related Programs by the City of Cambridge

  • The Community Development Department (CDD) is the planning agency for the City of Cambridge. CDD includes five programmatic divisions - Community Planning, Economic Development, Environmental and Transportation Planning, Housing, and Zoning and Development - that work to enhance the character and diversity of the city's neighborhoods, preserve and create affordable housing. The Housing Division offers both rental and homeownership opportunities. The Housing Division has direct contact with affordable housing partners in the city and regularly post updated information about housing on their website.

  • The Department of Human Service Programs (DHSP) provides a wide range of services to the residents of Cambridge. Including many services that assist with housing and housing related needs such as fuel assistance, housing search, and services for the unhoused. The Multi Service Center is located at 362 Green St and staff are available to meet with residents to assist with information and referrals and with accessing many resources and services. 

  • The Cambridge Human Rights Commission (CHRC) was established in 1984 to protect the civil rights of residents and visitors to the city. Included in their work are issues involving fair housing. If you have experienced discrimination at any stage of a housing search or as a tenant, contact the Commission at: hrc@cambridgema.gov

  • The Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) works to reduce and eliminate the barriers that people with disabilities experience in our community. CCPD staff answers questions, provides information & referrals, and gives technical assistance to individuals and families on many topics including needs and concerns regarding housing access and accommodations. For more information please contact: ccpd@cambridgema.gov

Information on Emergency Shelter

There are two primary emergency shelter systems in Massachusetts. One for individuals and another for families.  There is also a network of shelter providers who offer emergency shelter and services for domestic violence survivors.

There are many individual shelters and various access points. For a list of shelters please contact the Cambridge Multi Service Center at 617-349-6347.or through the contact form.

The family shelter system defines a family as having a dependent under the age of 21.  To find out more, please follow this link to the MA Housing and Community Development Department.

Or, call the Office of the Housing Liaison at 617-349-6337 or the Multi Service Center at 617-349-6347 for more information.

For Domestic Violence Services please call the Transition House Crisis Line at 617-661-7203 or SAFE Link at 1-877-785-2020.

Eviction Prevention Resources

There are many local and state resources and services to assist you with housing and housing and housing related financial need.

Find Information and Apply for Eviction Prevention Assistance:

Information on Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities.

The protected categories under the Cambridge Human Rights Ordinance and the Cambridge Fair Housing Ordinance are the following:

  • Disability – Defined consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Race
  • Color
  • National Origin or Ancestry
  • Family Status
  • Source of Income, includes Section 8 and public benefits
  • Marital Status, includes married and non-married individuals
  • Sex: Male or female, includes allegations of sexual harassment
  • Gender identity or expression
  • Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual
  • Age
  • Religious
  • Creed
  • Military Status

If you feel like you have been treated differently because of your membership in any of the above protected statuses, please contact the Cambridge Human Rights Commission. If you want more information regarding your rights as a person with a disability, please email the Commission of Persons with Disabilities at ccpd@cambridgema.gov.

Information on Housing Access and Applications

There are many routes to applying for subsidized housing.  Below are important links to ensure that you are on as many lists as possible. For more information about how to apply and/or why it is important to complete any and all applications, and, to find out about other opportunities please contact the Housing Liaison Office.

Information on Massachusetts Program for Rental Assistance

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), Emergency Rent and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA), & Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

The Massachusetts program for rental assistance has many names but it's purpose is to provide housing stability to MA residents.

What can RAFT, ERMA & ERAP funds be used for?

Program funds can be used for housing-related expenses only. Appropriate uses of funds include, but are not limited to:

  • Rental or mortgage arrearages.
  • Security deposits.
  • First and last month’s rent.
  • Utility arrearages.
  • Furniture. (May only be requested if connected to one of the housing crises listed above).

Tenants, Homeowners, Property Managers, Landlords can go to mass.gov for more information or apply online.

Mediation and Legal Services

There are free  legal and mediation services available in Cambridge. Attorneys and trained mediators are able to  assist you with tenant/landlord disputes and eviction proceedings.  Contact one of the following for help if you are concerned that your housing or tenant rights are in jeopardy.

Temporary Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement

Due to the Commonwealth's State of Emergency ending on June 15, 2021, and the significant improvements in public health metrics, the City of Cambridge has announced that it will align with the Commonwealth in lifting the City’s remaining COVID-19 restrictions on Saturday, May 29, 2021 and will rescind its March 19, 2020 Declaration of Public Health Emergency in Cambridge effective June 15, 2021. 

Therefore, due to the rescission of the City’s Declaration of Public Health Emergency, the City’s Temporary Eviction Moratorium as amended on July 23, 2020 will be rescinded, effective June 15, 2021. 

Additionally, the City recently enacted the 2020 Tenants’ Rights and Resources Ordinance, Chapter 8.71 of Cambridge Municipal Code, which requires landlords to provide materials prepared by the City of Cambridge that includes information on basic tenant rights and resources, and organizations that may assist tenants. The Ordinance requires landlords or foreclosing owners to provide the materials if any notice to quit or notice of nonrenewal or expiration is served.

However, the 2020 Tenants Rights and Resources Notification Ordinance, which includes a Tenants Rights and Resources Guide and FAQ, 
is permanent and remains in effect. Click here for more information about the Temporary Emergency Order Establishing a Moratorium on Eviction Enforcement and Establishing Requirements for Entry by Property Owners and their Agents into Occupied Dwelling Units and Establishing Requirement for all Real Estate Showings of Occupied Units.

For additional on housing rights and responsibilities, view the MA Attorney General’s Guide to Landlords and Tenants.

Information on Tenant and Landlord Rights, Responsibilities and Resources

In an effort to help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities as a tenant in Cambridge, and to make sure that tenants are aware of the many resources offered, effective October 14, 2020, the City of Cambridge  requires owners, landlords, and management companies to provide tenants with information at the start of a lease or tenancy as well as when a tenancy is being terminated.  View the guide to tenant rights and/or link to the Massachusetts Attorney General’s guide to landlord/tenant rights and information.

Tenants Rights and Resources Notification Ordinance Overview Information and FAQs

The Attorney General's Guide to Landlord and Tenant Rights

Videos

Eviction Prevention: Tenant Rights & Resources

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Fair Housing & Basic Tenant Rights

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Housed in Cambridge Video Series

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