Sunday, June 16, 2024

Challenger running for City Council for the first time

The candidate’s website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Endorsed by A Better Cambridge

Background: Business, nonprofit, and government | Focuses: Economic opportunity, housing, universal daycare, safe streets, climate change 


Edited and condensed from recent public forums.

What would you do to protect Cambridge tenants against displacement?

According to a 2019 statistical profile of Cambridge, we are losing 8 percent of our black neighbors because of deliberate historical segregation and oppression and lack of access to opportunity. One of the things I’ve done to serve all of Cambridge was host with A Better Cambridge a public discussion with Richard Rothstein, author of “Color of Law” so when we talk about housing we understand why we are still a segregated community, why the income and the wealth gap is so wide and why we live the way that we do. This is fundamental for us to all get on the same page. There are several things we should do to encourage and enhance and protect tenants. New York City has established a universal access to counsel, which ensures that low-income tenants have legal representation in housing court. In the first year residential evictions declined by 27 percent, which is incredible. We can also establish a stronger partnership with the nonprofit HomeStart, which has found it costs only $2,000 to keep a family housed, and the more that we can do to keep families in their homes for such little money the better.

Do you support the Affordable Housing Overlay proposal as referred by the Ordinance Committee? What are your other ideas for producing more affordable housing in Cambridge?

I am disappointed that the City Council wasn’t able to pass it, because the goal is to do something to bring more affordability to this city every term, and now we’re one term behind. I would be very proud to be able to vote for the overlay if elected next term, as well as to do other things to bring more affordability to the city. I’m calling for allocating $20 million every year to get more affordable housing built here, because funding is the major limitation of getting affordable housing built. We have the resources – we are an incredibly well off and fortunate city, and I’m calling for building on our parking lots to create low-, moderate- and middle-income units for residents. This is public land that we can use; we can choose the rules. I’m also a proponent of making sure that we do have more market-rate development, because if folks with high income can’t find housing, they are going to take the housing of low- and moderate-income families. In addition, we have one of the most progressive inclusionary housing zoning rules in the country, in which 20 percent of every building with 10 or more units must go to deeply subsidized low-income housing. But if we don’t build those buildings, we don’t get them.

If elected, what would be your top climate-related strategies or specific actions you would want the city to take?

Eighty-five percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from our buildings, so the top priority must be to make them as efficient as possible. The best way to do that is by going beyond the stretch code, and really pushing for passive house construction for all new-build buildings.

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Jeffery McNary for City Council, 2019