| Cambridge, Massachusetts Community Preservation Fund|
|In mid-September, Cambridge, Massachusetts city council members spent a significant amount of time debating how best to allocate the city's Community Preservation Funds. Historically, 80 percent of the money has been earmarked for affordable housing, but some of the councilors wanted to divide things up differently this time.|
City Councilor Tim Toomey suggested setting aside 50 percent of the Funds for housing, giving 25 percent to "open space" and 25 to historic preservation. Other councilors offered similar formulas. A total of $9.5 million was on the table as part of the city's fiscal year 2011 budget.
The Community Preservation Fund was enacted in 2000 and adopted by Cambridge voters in 2001. The Act requires the city to set aside a minimum of ten percent of its annual budget for each of three categories: historic preservation, open spaces and housing.
In the end, the council agreed to stay with the same formula it had been using, allocating 80 percent - or $7.6 million - for affordable housing projects.
A common criticism during the debate was that affordable housing has been developed primarily in East Cambridge, with little or no housing available to low-income families in the rest of the city. Council members acknowledged the disparity and admitted they'd like to see affordable housing projects developed in other areas. It's a key piece of information for developers interested in exploring opportunities in Cambridge. The City Council is likely to look more favorably on projects that extend beyond the East Cambridge region.
In it's report to the City Council, the Community Preservation Act Committee noted that the Cambridge Housing Authority currently has a list of over 15,000 families that are waiting for affordable housing to become available.