Example Incomes - Concord Highlands
The proposed Affordable Housing Overlay will allow developments which provide housing options for a broad range of incomes. While the proposal specifically limits the upper bound for income limits in a development, it does not limit the lower bound -- meaning that projects will have a full range of options depending on the populations they are meant to serve.
It is common for developers to create a mix of unit affordability to match the communities they intend to serve; in many cases they are also constrained by the available funding sources for those units, many of which come with income restrictions attached.
To understand what this looks like in practice, we can examine a development currently underway, and what the breakdown of unit availability looks like in practice.
One of the newest affordable housing being built in Cambridge is the Concord Highlands project, at 671-675 Concord Ave. This location will contain 98 units:
- 6 units will be exclusively reserved solely for incomes less than 30% of AMI -- that is, for a family of 3, families making less than $32,000/year.
- Another 54 units will be reserved for families making up to 60% of AMI, but with no specific lower bound on income -- so this will include a range of incomes, up to $64k/year for a family of three.
- 21 units will be for families making a moderate income -- between 60% and 80% of AMI.
- For a family of 3 with two working parents, these might be two day care teachers, whose combined salary of around $70k/year would make them eligible for these units.
- If that same family had a single working parent, incomes such as a senior patrol officer or firefighter would qualify them in this income range.
- 17 units for middle-income families: For a family of three, a combined income of $81k -> $102k/year.
- These units help provide supportive housing for families that both have moderately paying jobs, but would still have trouble finding an affordable place to live in a market that has typical 2-bedroom apartment cost of $2650/month.
Though the Concord Highlands development is not being built under the terms of the proposed Affordable Housing Overlay, its income brackets fit within what the zoning regulation allows. Contrary to claims that these units would not be available for low income units, we can see that many units are exclusively reserved for such incomes. And contrary to claims that these units would be "segregated" to specific income levels, we can see that they range from households with no income at all up to those making a middle income in the city. In affordable developments like this, variation in income levels is the norm.
By allowing a broad range of income levels to be included in any developed housing as needed, the overlay maximizes opportunity for non-profit developers to create housing to support the needs of the communities they work in across Cambridge.
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.