Comprehensive Housing Plan under discussion by the City Council

This Comprehensive Housing Plan (which you can read here) was introduced at the September 18th City Council meeting. It was referred to the Housing Committee (of which I am a member), and we held a hearing on October 25th to begin discussing it. We had a thoughtful and productive discussion on some of the suggestions below (not all were discussed) among members of the Committee, Community Development staff, Cambridge Housing Authority, and others to begin reviewing the pieces of this proposal. I am highlighting here the points that have been under discussion ahead of this Monday’s (November 6th) City Council Roundtable/Working Meeting on housing. Click on the link above to see the full plan. I welcome all feedback, comments and questions on this important topic.

  • Commit additional funds in the City’s budget for affordable housing
  • Issue affordable housing minibonds (and gap vouchers)
  • Establish streams of city revenue to be used for affordable housing development (parking fees, building permit fees, short-term rental taxes, and a local transfer tax)
  • Regularly review the incentive zoning and inclusionary housing ordinance
  • Create a city-wide affordable housing overlay district
  • Simplify and increase predictability of the permitting process for affordable housing projects
  • Reduce/remove motor vehicle and bicycle parking requirements for 100% affordable housing projects based on data on usage and on distance to public transit
  • Require that large commercial development projects include a residential component
  • Hold quarterly City Council Roundtable/Working Meetings to discuss how to expand affordability in Cambridge and to update local officials on policy, planning, and funding
  • Increase participation of underrepresented communities in the planning process
  • Prioritize the preservation of existing low- and moderate-income housing that is at risk of losing affordability restrictions and/or is in need of major capital improvements (Note: The AHT and the City are working hard to preserve the 496 expiring-use units in two of the three Rindge Ave towers. The owner has agreed to extend HUD Section 8 eligibility for 330 of the units. We are negotiating and exploring financing options to preserve the remaining 166 units.)
  • Reduce the competition for private market rental housing, particularly for family-sized apartments, by requiring universities to build more student housing
  • Enact Just-Cause Eviction legislation through a home rule petition
  • Establish and fund the right to counsel in certain housing cases
  • Adopt a local condo conversion law
  • Create a position of a Housing Ombudsman/Advocate for the City of Cambridge
  • Enhance enforcement of Cambridge’s source of income discrimination ordinance to support housing stability
  • Offer tenant education programs
  • Establish a Landlord Liaison Program and establish incentives for landlords who agree to reduce barriers to housing
  • Create an inventory of the stock of affordable and accessible housing in Cambridge
  • Expand the preference for Cambridge residents to include former residents who have been displaced due to the high cost of housing
  • Establish a state income tax credit for owners who charge below-market rents
  • Provide assistance to lower-income households who move (cost of moving, including first month’s and last month’s rent, security deposit, realtor’s fee).

There is no public comment period during Roundtable meetings and no votes are taken. At my suggestion, this meeting will be televised (Channel 22 CityView), video-recorded and live streamed on the Open Meeting Portal. Roundtables are limited to two hours (5:30-7:30pm). You may send comments to and cc the City Clerk Donna Lopez ( to place them on the public record.


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Jan Devereux
City Councillor
Cambridge, MA