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Work Underway Across the City for New Affordable Housing

Thursday, April 18, 2024

There are a series of affordable housing developments underway across the City. Highlights include:

Rindge Commons North

Just A Start (JAS) will be constructing two new buildings at 430-432 Rindge Avenue in North Cambridge, near Alewife Brook Parkway. This two-phased project, called Rindge Commons, will create 101 affordable apartments.  All units will be affordable to households earning under 80% AMI, with some being more deeply affordable.

The first phase, Rindge Commons North, will be completed in early 2024 and will include 24 affordable one- and two-bedroom rental units, as well as several floors of non-residential space where JAS will be consolidating its training and education programs into a centralized location.

The City will also be leasing space to create three preschool classrooms for children between ages three and five years old, providing much needed affordable early education for Cambridge’s working families.

The City has invested $3 million to support the first residential phase of construction of this project. Planning for the second phase with 77 affordable units is now underway.

116 Norfolk Street

116 Norfolk Street, another AHO project, is sponsored by the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA). Located in The Port neighborhood, the existing 38-unit SRO property is being renovated and expanded into 62 units of permanent supportive housing for residents at risk of or moving beyond homelessness. CHA will be partnering with Eliot Community Housing Services to provide residents with a robust set of supportive services. All units will be very affordable for individuals below 30% AMI. The renovation will meet Enterprise Green Communities standards and will have features such as added insulation and rooftop solar arrays.

Construction began in January 2023 and is being supported by more than $10 million in City funding.

52 New Street

52 New Street, an affordable housing project sponsored by Just A Start, is located in North Cambridge, immediately adjacent to Danehy Park and close to the Fresh Pond reservoir. The site is being developed into 106 affordable housing units with approximately 3,000 square feet of new retail space. The majority of the units will be affordable to families at or below 60% AMI, and many of them will also be two bedrooms or larger. This building is being designed to comply with Passive House standards and will include features to ensure maximum energy efficiency, such as a robust thermal envelope and eco-friendly materials.

This project is the first to be approved under the provisions of the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO). Construction began on the property in January 2024, supported by more than $18 million in City funds.

Jefferson Park

After many years of planning, CHA is underway to replace 175 obsolete public housing units at their Jefferson Park Federal Public Housing development. Conditions at the site had deteriorated so significantly that 57 units were taken offline several years ago. The 1950’s era public housing buildings have been demolished and work is underway to build 278 new affordable rental housing units in a reimagined site layout, which will better integrate the housing into the surrounding neighborhood.

The City has committed more than $43 million in funding to support the revitalization of this important housing resource.

4 Mellen Street/1627 Massachusetts Avenue

4 Mellen Street is one of the newest projects to be proposed under the AHO. The property is located in the Baldwin neighborhood, between Harvard Square and Porter Square. It was previously owned by Lesley University. The parcel consists of a 6,500 square foot historically significant mansion, known as the Charles Saunders House, with a sizeable parking lot in the rear. Homeowners Rehab, Inc. (HRI) is developing the property by renovating the existing housing and adding a new building in the rear, creating 29 new affordable units for people at 80% AMI or lower as well as amenity space for residents. The new rear addition will meet Passive House standards.

The City has committed $11 million in funding to this development and HRI is now assembling final funding to begin construction.

Other New Affordable Housing:

  • 35 Harvey Street:
    • HRI is underway with rehab work to convert this former single-room occupancy (SRO) with shared facilities into 12 enhanced affordable apartment units for individuals moving beyond homelessness. This is expected to be completed later this year.
  • 49 Sixth Street:
    • Preservation of Affordable Housing (POAH) built 46 new affordable housing units at the former Sacred Heart rectory, school, and convent in East Cambridge that will be built through the AHO.
  • 87-101 Blanchard Road:
    • B’nai B’rith Housing, a non-profit housing developer, has proposed 110 new affordable senior housing units in Cambridge Highlands.
  • Walden Square II:
    • WinnDevelopment, the owner of a 240-unit affordable housing development called Walden Square Apartments, has proposed a plan to construct 95 new affordable rental units on their property.
  • 37 Brookline Street:
    • Just A Start recently acquired 37 Brookline Street, a property located in the Cambridgeport neighborhood. JAS plans to begin a community process in 2024 to create affordable housing on the site.
  • 35 Cherry Street:
    • JAS has been selected to build new affordable homeownership units here. Plans will be advanced in 2024.
  • 30 Wendell Street:
    • HRI recently purchased the property at 30 Wendell Street from Lesley University, located in the Baldwin neighborhood, and has begun its community process to proposed new affordable housing here in 2024.

New affordable housing developments are taking place in Rindge Commons North, Norfolk Street, New Street, Jefferson Park, Mellen Street, and other areas around the city.

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