Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Cambridge Housing Justice Coalition is made up of community members and representatives from organizations working for housing justice in Cambridge. Our projects include educating community members about social housing, supporting rent control initiatives, developing a community land trust in Cambridge and increasing access to safe, fair and low-cost housing through campaigns. Our work aims to center Bipoc, no-income, low-income and other marginalized community members.

The Cambridge Housing Justice Coalition wishes to express strong support of the revised Affordable Housing Overlay known popularly as AHO 2.

Our support comes from our commitment to housing as a human right and what that means for the working class. Currently, there are unmet needs in Cambridge, including the 6,500 people who live and work in Cambridge who are on the Cambridge Housing Authority waitlist. There are people surviving poverty in public, commonly referred to as the homeless. There are countless invisible and rent-burdened tenants, among many others struggling with the weight of the local housing crisis.

If Cambridge does not explicitly carve out housing that is affordable, we risk other challenges concerning the working class. Some of these challenges involve transportation into Cambridge. Where will the caretakers (such as travel nurses, nurse assistants and au pairs) live? Or will they be forced to travel hours to work in Cambridge from more distant but affordable cities? That arrangement wouldn’t be very environmentally sound, and there are many more concerns. Without the AHO 2’s thoughtful upzoning to allow more affordable housing in Cambridge, the city will continue to grow more economically homogeneous and inevitably racially homogenous– which harms the true character of the city.

To be clear, this zoning proposal is only one part of the solution we seek to address the myriad housing crises in Cambridge. We want future policies and programs that include provisions for tenant support and services. We want to see explicit provisions for social-housing initiatives. We want to see funding preferences for community land trusts, cooperative housing and support for things such as the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act. The second AHO is a meaningful step toward developing more units for the working class of Cambridge today, though. We are happy it has been put forward and support it resolutely.

Cambridge Housing Justice Coalition