In Cambridge, backyard infill is nothing new: creation of new homes in the backyards of existing properties is a long-standing tradition, and has been a key part of the City’s efforts towards creating affordable housing for generations. With appropriate zoning, it could provide a cost-effective way to achieve the same goals in our current struggle to create affordable housing.
Councilor Kelley's latest fundraising pitch claims the Affordable Housing Overlay was a "flawed attempt" to work on our housing crisis. In reality, his attempts to address the housing crisis have an even more fatal flaw: they wouldn't achieve any impact. Hope can't be our strategy for housing affordability.
New homes don’t always mean new construction. The proposed 100% Affordable Housing Overlay will support more than just new construction, by relaxing zoning rules across the board. With relaxed zoning rules, it will be easier to create new homes in the existing buildings we have -- something made difficult or impossible by the restrictive zoning in the city today.
Under Cambridge's proposed Affordable Housing Overlay, affordable housing developments would be allowed to exceed the height allowed under current zoning in many districts. However, there's been a lot of misunderstanding of what this would look like in practice. To help give a sense of what these increase look like, here are some examples in context of their street to give a sense of what the allowed height increases could look like throughout Cambridge.
In Cambridge, eliminating single family zoning without changing any other zoning requirements achieves relatively little direct impact because of how our zoning rules have been designed. By combining the elimination of single family zoning and removal of other restrictive zoning elements, the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay could open the door for thoughtful redevelopment of a small number of parcels anywhere in the city -- including in the single family zones that we have today.
Affordable Housing developments often feature units targeted at a range of different incomes in order to meet the needs of the community and the requirements of funding partners. Look at the example of Cambridge's latest large affordable housing development to understand more.