The Thinking Behind Cambridge's Affordable Housing Overlay

A podcast discussion with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui details how and why the Massachusetts city become a planning trendsetter by adopting an Affordable Housing Overlay earlier this year.

1 minute read

April 21, 2021, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cambridge Massachusetts

Tim Pierce / Wikimedia Commons

Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui was interviewed on the Land Matters podcast to discuss the Massachusetts city's affordable housing overlay, approved in Fall 2020. The overlay "awards extra height and density and includes a streamlined permitting process for below market-rate residential projects," according to an article that introduces the podcast.

While speaking with Anthony Flint on the podcast, Mayor Siddiqui discusses the importance providing affordable housing options for both newcomers and multi-generational family arrangements.

"We still see such stark inequality in our city, and as someone who's grown up in affordable housing in Cambridge—I would not be here without it. This is an important initiative and policy and I do hope it as a model for other cities across the country," says the mayor.

As Planetizen noted in coverage at the time of the city's adoption of the overlay, Cambridge inspired other cities in the region to explore similar overlays. Since that time, the city of Berkeley on the other side of the country has also taken steps to emulate Cambridge.

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