- Expand the availability of affordable housing through the city’s inclusionary housing program
- Utilize bold and creative solution to continue growth of affordable housing, such as linkage fees
- Ensure that affordable housing is available in ALL neighborhoods of Cambridge
Community and Open Space
- Preserve and expand open space throughout Cambridge
- Leverage Volpe project for community center, in addition to recreation areas
- Advocate for the Grand Junction Multi-use path
- Maintain Cambridge’s ability to finance public works projects
- Ensure ongoing levels of fiscal strength to strengthen social services and public investment
- Keep small businesses strong by reducing burdens
- Keep Cambridge inclusive, diverse, welcoming, and kind so that people from all backgrounds can thrive
- Remain accessible to the community by maintaining a constituent service office at 550 Cambridge St.
- Create a strong presence at community events
- Connect residents to the services that they need
Cambridge has long prided itself on being a city of deep social, racial, and economic diversity. The rising cost of housing is threatening this core value of our community and is hurting families in our city every day. Cambridge is at risk of becoming a city where only the very affluent are able to live, and where low and middle income people are being squeezed out.
While there are undoubtedly regional forces driving housing prices in Cambridge, our city’s leaders must continue to step up on behalf of low and middle income residents. There are measures we can take and opportunities we can leverage at the local level that will make a difference for those who are in need now.
The Affordable Housing Trust must aggressively pursue properties in every Cambridge neighborhood that can be converted into affordable housing. Year after year, opportunities to build affordable units in the most exclusive Cambridge neighborhoods are turned down for dubious reasons. Our city’s low and middle income residents can’t make excuses when they aren’t able to afford their next rent payment. Our leaders shouldn’t make excuses either.
I have introduced a council order that would require that the City Manager confer with Lesley University and the Harvard Divinity School about using a site in Harvard Square for affordable housing. The City needs to continue to take bold steps to ensure affordable housing is available throughout all neighborhoods, particularly those with strong public transit infrastructure and availability of jobs and educational opportunities.
I have sponsored a transfer fee of 1% on all real estate transactions over $2.5-million and an additional 4% of amounts over $5-million. I believe that this is an important step to fund the continued expansion of housing stock, as well as ensuring that currently existing housing remains in good condition.
I supported the effort to raise linkage fees throughout the City which has created more revenue for the Affordable Housing Trust. Similarly, I have worked to raise the inclusionary housing requirement for new development.
We need to continue to make bold steps and proposals so that affordable housing can be available in all of Cambridge. Ensuring that people and families from all walks of life can thrive in Cambridge is key to building a vibrant community for everyone.
Acquiring and improving open space for our community has always been a priority. I have fought for and procured the development of over three and a half acres of parks throughout Cambridge. I have worked with developers to create a $6 Million dollar fund for acquisition of new open space in East Cambridge, and obtained $8-million in mitigation funds for design and construction of new parkland in Eastern Cambridge.
My commitment to you is that I will never stop fighting for the completion of the Grand Junction Path. I believe this path is one of the best transportation infrastructure project the City of Cambridge can achieve on our own, without State funding. It will provide safe biking opportunities and will connect neighborhoods and communities and provide recreational opportunities for residents of all ages.
The Volpe site represents an opportunity to ensure more open space throughout the Community, while simultaneously addressing ongoing housing needs.
Cambridge is a dense city, and our residents benefit from having access to great park lands. We are blessed with the DCR parklands along the Charles River and we are fortunate to have the resources to maintain excellent playing fields for all youth sports, and to attract award winning designers for our playgrounds such as the one on the Cambridge Common.
Economic Development and Commerce, Retail Viability and Affordability
Cambridge is fortunate enough to have a winning formula that many cities across the globe are trying to emulate. We are attracting global brands such as Google and Facebook, and leading the world in medical research. The successes of Kendall Square benefit the average home owner by keeping our residential tax rate one of the lowest in the state, keeping it affordable for long time residents that have seen dramatic increases in their property values. The commercial tax base has helped us, in the last decade or so, construct the award winning Main Library, a state of the art Public Safety Building, renovate the War Memorial Facility, also renovate Cambridge Rindge and Latin, fund a multi-million dollar school building project that has rebuilt the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School and is currently reconstructing the King Open School Community Complex that includes the new Valente Library and the new Gold Star Mother Pool.
Not only have we funded all these projects, but we also have the ability to fund the human services needs of this community. Our fiscal stability has allowed us to exceed the capabilities of other cities and towns – Cambridge has a AAA bond rating, allowing the city to borrow at low rates. This took tremendous effort by the city over the years to get Cambridge to this point; this was not the fiscal reality when I started on the council. We must continue to achieve this level of fiscal stability, so that our ongoing projects may continue and so that we can continue to provide outstanding public and human services.
While we have made great strides in Kendall Square, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small businesses to thrive.This past term I have made a number of proposals to help small business owners, to free them of additional burdens.
- As a result of my advocacy, DPW will soon be establishing a recycling pickup program for small business owners, saving costs associated with private haulers.
- I have advocated for the reduction in license fees to help alleviate the devaluing of restaurant licenses.
- I pushed back against a city wide ban of wood burning stoves in restaurants that would have impacted small business owners that have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into their business.
- As a State Representative. I defended the Movie Tax credit that has created and supported thousands of jobs and small businesses in Massachusetts, including those in Cambridge.
In the coming term I will work to keep the needs of the small business owner at the forefront of the conversation.
Today’s hot button issues such as affordable housing, LGBTQ+ rights, and protection for young immigrants were not always so widely supported. Over my career I have championed these causes even in the face of local opposition. Together we have created over a 1,000 new units of affordable housing, many times in the face of opposition. I was proud to take controversial votes in favor of gay marriage here in Massachusetts at the State House, and I stood on the floor of the State House Chamber to fight for instate tuition that would make education opportunities available to more students and help lift up young immigrants and provide a chance at the American Dream. With Massachusetts so far ahead on many of these social justice issues we can sometimes lose sight of the early struggles, but these were values instilled in me at an early age.
While growing up in East Cambridge, my entire neighborhood consisted of immigrants and the children of immigrants. People of all backgrounds came together to build a strong community where we looked out for one another. I have made it my goal as a City Councillor to continue to make Cambridge an inclusive city for all. I sponsored legislation for the Council to go on record supporting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which will continue to protect over 18,000 citizens. Furthermore I introduced the ordinance that created the City’s Commission on Immigrant Rights and Citizenship.
This commission provides residents with access to resources and “Know Your Rights” trainings which have been a vital resource in our community.
Furthermore as a councillor I have always made sure that I have been accessible to my constituents, guiding many of them to the government services that they need – including housing services.
I pride myself on being a tireless advocate for my constituents and I feel that one of my most important duties as a councillor is to assist residents in accessing city services. I keep a constituent service office at 550 Cambridge Street so that residents have a convenient place where they can meet with me or my staff, and I am always ready to listen if you are having trouble with a city service or have ideas about how to make Cambridge a better place to live.