The homes at 2072 Massachusetts Ave. will be a lifeline for hundreds of families over the coming decades
This essay was contributed by Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, vice-mayor Alanna Mallon and advisers E. Denise Simmons and Marc McGovern.
On May 20, 2021, the Zoning Council will hold a second meeting to discuss the 100% affordable housing proposal for 2072 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge. If approved, this building will create 48 homes, of which approximately 70% will be two and three. bedrooms, a few blocks from public transportation – all affordable.
The project would meet ‘passive house standards’ which, combined with the planned energy efficient HVAC system, lighting, installation of a solar / green roof on the roof, and healthy building materials, will constitute the one of the highest levels of durability a builder can achieve.
In short, this building is everything we said we want as a city: affordable, family-sized, transit-oriented homes, located in a large retail corridor, beautifully designed and eco-friendly. the environment. It is a project that meets all of the city’s major goals, and it should be applauded.
The Planning Council has twice approved the project unanimously, and now its future and that of those who will benefit from these affordable homes lie with the BZA to approve zoning relief as part of the Chapter 40B process. .
Over the past few years, city staff and council have taken action to address the critical need for affordable housing in our community. For those of us who work every day to meet the housing needs of our residents, we know how important it is to go beyond words and feelings to support affordable housing and take action. to build and produce this essential resource.
The Covid-19 pandemic has illuminated and exposed decades of public policies that are failing our most vulnerable residents on housing, transportation, access to food, education and more. This awareness should be an opportunity for us to remedy these injustices.
Recently, Frost Terrace, another 100% affordable building, received almost 1,000 applicants for its 40 homes, and Finch Apartments on Concord Avenue, an affordable 98 unit building, welcomed over 2,600 applicants. The Cambridge Housing Authority has a list of over 5,000 families who live or work in Cambridge waiting for affordable housing. Every unit counts. Each unit is a house. Every house changes lives.
Some have indicated their willingness to “sacrifice” units to make the building smaller. As advisers, we don’t think these homes should be “sacrificed”. We see these homes as tangible lifelines for residents. Residents like Lisa (names have been changed), who lived in her car for months during this pandemic while her CRLS students paired up with friends so they could still go to school. Or Ellen, a single mother who grew up in Cambridge and is forced to leave the only city she has ever known because she can’t find an affordable apartment. Ou Dina, a victim of domestic violence who fled her abuser with her children and lived with a family friend in her bedroom for years as she waited for a family-sized unit to accommodate her family.
They are real people, people we have come to know, love and care for as friends and valued members of our community. These residents are not abstract and their future should be a priority for all of us.
We have heard some say that “this project will not solve the affordable housing crisis”. That may be true, but Cambridge has never been a community to throw its collective hands up and let go of responsibility because we can’t fix the whole problem. These homes will not only be a lifeline for those 48 families who will initially live there, but for all the families who will call the building home in its lifetime. Hundreds of families who would otherwise be forced to leave Cambridge will have the opportunity to stay in Cambridge over the next decades.
We see the BZA as a partner to help achieve the city’s goal of providing housing for a more affordable and more equitable Cambridge. While concerns like traffic, parking, and shadows can be important, we don’t see them as more important than people with housing. We hope the BZA will see clearly to move this building forward so that more people can have the security of a safe and affordable home.