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Cambridge Residential Survey Shows Affordable Housing is Residents’ Top Priority

Cambridge residents gave their government a 69 percent approval rating, according to the Resident Satisfaction Survey.
Cambridge residents gave their government a 69 percent approval rating, according to the Resident Satisfaction Survey. By Julian J. Giordano
By Ayumi Nagatomi and Avani B. Rai, Crimson Staff Writers

Cambridge residents named affordable housing as their top priority and gave the city government a 69 percent approval rating, according to the city’s annual Resident Satisfaction Survey.

The survey — presented by City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05 at a Monday City Council roundtable meeting — found that 69 percent of residents gave Cambridge’s governement an “excellent” or “good,” an increase from 64 percent in 2022 and the highest recorded approval since the introduction of the survey in 2000.

The city contracted Polity Research Consulting, LLC to survey 400 adult residents in September on governance, quality of life, and other policy issues.

Cambridge scored more than 20 percentage points higher than the national benchmark, based on surveys of 500 other municipalities natiowide, on participation in government, quality of the public transportation system, and opportunities in education, culture, and the arts. However, the city scored at least 20 points lower than other cities on mobility by car.

But Cambridge’s performance in most categories from the survey were similar to the other cities in the analysis.

Because of this, Huang said some of the analysis was not “particularly helpful.”

“We can always talk about it for next year's survey and think about how do we want to drill in exactly,” Huang said.

Despite the headline result about affordable housing concerns, Councilor Paul F. Toner said greater nuance in the survey questions was necessary for the city to adequately understand residents’ sentiments and react accordingly.

“In the future I’m hoping that whether it’s through surveys or focus groups, we can really dig more into the affordable housing questions,” Toner said. “When you just throw that out there as a general question, you don't really know what people are referring to.”

“I hope that going forward, we can somehow dig deeper into that and figure out what exactly people are talking about,” Toner added.

Councilor Ayesha M. Wilson also called out the need to add greater specificity to the survey questions, referring to it as an opportunity for improvement.

“I look forward to learning more about this process,” Wilson said. “It seems really like there's a lot for us to learn and grow from this area.”

—Staff writer Avani B. Rai can be reached at avani.rai@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @avaniiiirai.

—Staff writer Ayumi Nagatomi can be reached at ayumi.nagatomi@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @ayumi_nagatomi.

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City PoliticsCambridge City CouncilMetroHousing