Cambridge Citizens Coalition
Yes, Cambridge does have more affordable housing than other communities but still not enough to put a dent in a waiting list that's thousands of names long and frequently closed to new applicants. A city that has for decades prohibited the construction of new 3-family or larger apartment buildings in large sectors of the city cannot fairly nor accurately be said to be helping residents afflicted by the housing shortage.
And, yes, the Overlay proposal does encourage more building, in a very limited way. What do you do for a housing shortage *but* build more housing? Wishful thinking and uninformed bluster are not going to solve the problem.
James - thanks for your comment. You are correct that this is a very difficult situation but we need to look a root causes to address new outcomes. We have built so much new luxury housing in Cambridge that it is heating the market and causing further lease inflation and gentrification. As a result, more and more residents and small local businesses are being forced out. And much of this is investor driven so we also have a 10% vacancy rate. The AHO will add even further heat to the market because adjacent buildings (though not affordable) will be able to reach the same height and scale through special permit. In short, the city-wide up-zoning proposed in the AHO will likely make housing and business leases even more out of reach. If Cambridge required major businesses (universities, Google etc.) to provide housing for all their employees in the area – and related transport) it would make a substantial difference. Also, if Ma. followed the lead of NY State and started a rent stabilization program with set lease increase amounts - at least in the hotter markets like Cambridge and Boston it would also make a sizable difference.