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Affordable Housing Trust Expands and Protects Affordable Housing Opportunities

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Created by the City Council, the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust was established in 1989 with the mission of expanding and protecting affordable housing opportunities in Cambridge. From the end of rent control in the mid-1990s to the real estate boom of the early-2000s to the affordable housing crisis currently challenging our city and the greater Boston region, the Trust has worked to shape housing programs and policies, fund the purchase of residential buildings and development sites for affordable housing developments, and provide funding that preserves and creates affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families in Cambridge.

The Trust is comprised of a nine-member board that includes experts in housing policy, finance, development, design, and advocacy. The Trust serves as both a policy advisory board and a loan committee, meeting on a monthly basis throughout the year to review proposals for new housing preservation and development efforts and other housing programs, and to discuss affordable housing policy. The Trust has a long-standing commitment to creating high-quality housing that is well-integrated into the greater community and that will remain affordable for future generations. Some of the criteria the Trust uses when reviewing proposals for new programs, policies, and housing developments include:

  • Creation and preservation of long-term affordability
  • Emphasis on the creation of family-sized housing (units with two or more bedrooms)
  • Leveraging of Trust funds by other public and private financing sources
  • High-quality sustainable design to benefit housing residents and the surrounding neighborhood and community
  • Use of energy-efficient materials and environmentally-friendly construction techniques.

Funding from the Affordable Housing Trust has assisted more than 4,000 units in the City. Through its funding of affordable housing development and acquisition programs, affordable housing preservation programs, and first-time homebuyer assistance programs, the Trust has helped thousands of families and individuals afford to remain in the Cambridge community.

Overview of current affordable housing developments being developed with funding from the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust:

  • $3.7 million to create 24 new affordable rental units in a North Cambridge mixed-use, transit-oriented development; construction will be completed in early 2024. The project also includes space for job training and workforce development programs and new classrooms to expand City early childhood education programs.
  • $4.2 million committed to renovate a 12-unit limited equity cooperative to sustain the affordability of what has been an affordable resource in Cambridgeport for more than 35 years where rehab will be complete in early 2024.
  • $10.2 million committed to create 62 new affordable units to house individuals moving beyond homelessness where construction is underway.
  • $3.3 million committed to create 12 affordable rental units for formerly unhoused individuals in a former lodging house in North Cambridge where construction is underway.
  • $18 million committed to create 106 new affordable rental units adjacent to Danehy Park in Neighborhood 10 where construction is underway.
  • $43.6 million committed to replace 175 obsolete public housing units with 275 new affordable rental units in North Cambridge where site preparation is underway.
  • $10.8 million committed to convert former church properties to 46 affordable rental units in East Cambridge.
  • $10.4 million committed to acquire a property outside of Harvard Square to create new affordable housing in the Baldwin neighborhood, where few affordable housing opportunities now exist and where funding is now being assembled to build 29 affordable units.
  • $6.4 million used to acquire a second property outside of Harvard Square in the Baldwin neighborhood in 2023 where new affordable housing will be proposed in 2024.
  • $2 million used to acquire a property in Cambridgeport in 2023 where new affordable housing will be proposed in 2024.
  • Commitment of City land in The Port; an affordable housing provider has been selected to develop new affordable condominium units on a long-vacant parcel.
  • Additional efforts underway include reviewing requests from affordable housing providers and continuing to work with affordable housing developers to identify new opportunities to finance the creation of affordable units through acquisition of new sites.
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