One of the most pressing issues facing the city is affordable housing. Cambridge has a major and distinct problem which is that it is unaffordable to rent and unaffordable to buy. This has caused a housing crisis and the spatial displacement of some of the city’s most vulnerable who are in need of housing.
The attack on and degradation of working families is unacceptable, some of our policies exacerbate the problems these families are facing and we have to find ways to support working families. We need creative solutions for affordable and low income housing with a clear understanding of who we are trying to serve – both low income residents and middle income families. With over 3000 people waiting on a stagnant housing list, we have to be proactive in increasing the number of affordable units.
Many of the projects that have been pushed through have needed relief through special permits and variances. This relief should come with benefits for the neighborhoods and community residents. The city must have the goal of building more family friendly affordable housing within the inclusionary housing and not micro units. We cannot allow developers to exploit this loophole.
We need to explore raising the inclusionary zoning guidelines to 25% within certain parameters and ensure that qualifying units are family sized and not micro units. We must find ways to work with developers such as those in the North Point, Alewife and Volpe projects to create more affordable housing and still use our values to determine what is needed and connect these projects on the periphery to the community.
Another idea is to increase the tax incentives/relief for neighborhood friendly affordable housing such as PortLanding and Immaculate Conception. Vail court needs to be an opportunity to see these policies, our community values and the need for affordable housing working together.