Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor Talks Justice, Civic Engagement at Radcliffe Day


Church Says It Did Not Authorize ‘People’s Commencement’ Protest After Harvard Graduation Walkout


‘Welcome to the Battlefield’: Maria Ressa Talks Tech, Fascism in Harvard Commencement Address


In Photos: Harvard’s 373rd Commencement Exercises


Rabbi Zarchi Confronted Maria Ressa, Walked Off Stage Over Her Harvard Commencement Speech

Council Asks City Staff to Launch Municipally-Funded Housing Vouchers Pilot

Cambridge City Hall is located at 795 Massachusetts Ave. The Community Development Department will seek to establish a new pilot program for municipally-funded housing vouchers.
Cambridge City Hall is located at 795 Massachusetts Ave. The Community Development Department will seek to establish a new pilot program for municipally-funded housing vouchers. By Marina Qu
By Laurel M. Shugart, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge City Council asked the city’s Community Development Department to work toward a pilot program for municipally-funded housing vouchers as the city attempts to deal with the growing waitlist for affordable apartments.

The City Council held a Tuesday hearing of the Housing Committee on the proposal after first introducing it via policy order in February.

“To sum up some of the direction you’re getting is to perhaps start thinking about a project-based voucher approach,” Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui said to CDD Housing Director Chris Cotter during the meeting.

Currently, the Cambridge Housing Authority issues the majority of Cambridge housing vouchers, which are mostly funded by federal programs. The vouchers are largely tenant-based, meaning they are issued directly to tenants for use on the private market and come at an estimated cost of almost $44,000 per unit per year for a household earning less than 50 percent of the area median income.

But the Council asked the CDD to look into providing project-based vouchers, which are attached to individual affordable units and come at a considerably lower cost. The vouchers would be funded by the municipal budget, rather than federal funds.

“We see project-based vouchers very often used to assist buildings that are either fully affordable or mostly affordable with the affordable housing providers,” Cotter said.

As the Council continues to look at ending single-family zoning, councilors specifically requested that the CDD look further into the implementation of project-based vouchers in multifamily housing, which include a fraction of affordable units under the city’s inclusionary housing program.

“One of the things we talked about is that with inclusionary program that those units are not as deeply affordable as we like,” Councilor Burhan Azeem said, pointing to project-based vouchers as a potential avenue.

Cotter said project-based vouchers were generally absent in multifamily housing, as many low-income tenants use tenant-based vouchers instead.

“We don’t see the project-based vouchers in the inclusionary stock,” Cotter said.

Councilors said the approach holds potential for increasing housing stability for Cambridge’s rent-burdened tenants, encouraging the CDD to begin working toward a pilot program for municipally funded vouchers.

Additionally, the Committee urged the CDD to collect data and work with the communities that would most benefit from project-based vouchers — including low-income renters, families, and caretakers.

“I’ve really felt like I hear the most from rent-burdened populations, and especially rent-burdened folks in inclusionary,” Siddiqui said, referring to tenants in units built through the inclusionary housing program.

—Staff writer Laurel M. Shugart can be reached at Follow them on X @laurelmshugart or on Threads @laurel.shugart.

Want to keep up with breaking news? Subscribe to our email newsletter.

City PoliticsCambridge City CouncilCambridgeBostonMetroFeatured Articles