Sumbul Siddiqui for City Council, 2019
Incumbent first elected in 2017 and seeking second term in office
Background: Legal aid attorney | Focuses: Affordable housing, economic growth, environment
Edited and condensed from recent public forums.
What would you do to protect Cambridge tenants against displacement?
My Tenant Protection Task Force will have some good recommendations. But this is this is a true crisis. One of the things I did was sit with our legal aid providers and learn that we need more funding for more attorneys – and I just learned we’re going to be getting more. We’ve never as a city really studied eviction and displacement rates, and so many of us pushed for the rich data there that can help us figure out who are the management companies that are evicting and why. If it’s because of credit, let’s help these constituents with credit repair. We have funds that can do that. Let’s find partnership for the Cambridge Economic Opportunity Committee, which does so much good work, and we have to think about other flexible funding options. The report will come up with nonmunicipal funding sources, since our municipal funds are limited in what we can use them for. And then finally, there are a lot of state bills we have to support for such things as right to counsel and an eviction ceiling, because our toolbox is limited because of being a home rule state and Chapter 40P, which ended rent control. I’ve also been working with staff and residents on preserving the Fresh Pond Apartments expiring in 2020.
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 did support the overlay, and would in the future. One of the reasons I really appreciated the goal of the overlay is that I grew up in Cambridge affordable housing. Running for council the first time in 2017 was actually my first time going to Huron Village, which I bring up because for me it is about equity: We should have affordable housing in all our neighborhoods, and we have parts of the city that have more. One of the overlay goals was to allow for that. And secondly, we spoke to our affordable housing developers about the litigation they faced, about how many years a project got stalled, about what would make it easier – at the end of the day, affordable housing is very hard to build. This was one way to help. The Housing Committee co-chair and I really worked toward getting this overlay somewhere, and right up until the vote we were amending and working on addressing people’s concerns.
Do you support Gov. Baker’s Housing Choice Bill that would let cities and towns adopt zoning rules related to housing by a simple majority of the governing body instead of a supermajority?
I support it, but this conversation about the bill gets really siloed – it’s about this bill and it’s about other tenant protection that the state, and that combination is key. Zoning is a powerful tool, and we can we have to make sure other cities are doing the work as well. It’s why Cambridge is feeling the crunch.