Wednesday, July 24, 2024

As two people who hope to serve you on the City Council and whose families have lived in Cambridge for generations, we want to be clear that we value the diversity that makes Cambridge great. In a recent essay (“The Affordable Housing Overlay: A first-year report,” Aug. 19), the Cambridge Citizens Coalition asserted that state and federal funding should not be used to build affordable housing because it allows low-income people from outside Cambridge to move to our city. As two people whose ancestors were once “outsiders” who moved to Cambridge, we find this position to fly in the face of our progressive values.

Our families came to Cambridge in 1918 and 1938, respectively. They were immigrant families who not only moved to Cambridge to provide a better life for their children but invested in the community and made the Cambridge that so many now want to “protect.” We heard stories of how they had to fight for acceptance all those years ago. It is disheartening to see those same attitudes exist today. It is also shameful to see the argument framed as a choice between current residents and people who seek to live here. We never hear this argument when those “outsiders” have the means to pay $1,000 a square foot. Cambridge has the ability and the obligation to care for longtime lower-income residents as well as those seeking to move here.

No matter how long you or your family has lived in Cambridge, we were all new once. We are a sanctuary city that tells immigrants that they will be safe here. Our only public high school has students from around the world – some whose families are from Cambridge and some who moved here recently. We are a welcoming community.

The Ideas expressed in the CCCs essay do not align with the majority of people who call, and have called, Cambridge home. One cannot paint “Black Lives Matter” on a fence or hang a sign saying “all are welcome” while building a virtual wall around our city to prevent lower-income people from moving here. No one questions the right of a person to live in Cambridge if they can afford a million-dollar home; we shouldn’t question the right of a person to live in Cambridge if they qualify for affordable housing. The folks who clean your houses, serve your food and drink, educate your children, keep your streets clean and your homes safe are as essential as every other resident, despite their lower income. We hope that the members of the CCC will amend their values as stated in the recent essay and work toward creating inclusive and just policies that reflect the long-held values of this wonderful city.

Marc McGovern, city councillor
Joe McGuirk, candidate for City Council