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Affordable Housing

May 26, 2009

Most state programs will not see much of the federal stimulus plan. After Thursday’s announcement by Governor Deval L. Patrick that more than $750 million of the federal aid given to the state will be given to health care many Massachusetts organizations including Cambridge’s Affordable Housing Trust. The Trust which meets monthly spent much of its meeting considering its budget and how funding problems could affect future housing creation.

The Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust a group that Cambridge City Manager Beth Rubenstein describes a program created to, “build and promote affordable housing in Cambridge” through the creation and preservation of quality affordable housing. During its March 26th meeting the Trust members discussed their current budget and how they planned to use current funding throughout the year a process Susan Schlesinger referred to as, “a useful exercise in micro planning.”

Despite the serious discussion topic members of the Trust remained as calm and approachable as their environment. The darkened Ackerman Room of the Cambridge City Hall building’s red hues and dull lighting is something that the members of the Trust seem comfortable with. Susan Schlesinger the Cambridge City Trustee sat huddled in her tipped back chair with crossed arms and a North Face jacket while looking quizzically at the other members of the Trust.

During a discussion about the need for more affordable housing facilities in Cambridge Schlesinger responded, “What are we New York, that’s crazy for three thousand [dollars] you can buy…” to news that an apartment could cost renters more than three thousand per month. This she stressed was why affordable housing was so important and why federal stimulus funding would help their cause.  When asked about the amount of money the Trust and other agencies might receive, the moderator, Trustee Robert W. Healy quipped, “Kind of what … we got for education. Nothing”.  Healy quickly commented that nothing had been stated by the state about exactly which groups would get funds or how much they would each receive.

The overall meeting style was more formal than the appearance of the Trust members implied. Though Schlesinger spent most of the meeting peppering Chris Cotter, the Housing Director, with critical questions about the budget and the group’s future plans there were outward interruptions by members.

During a discussion about the future plans of Trust members voted for closed session so a vote over current projects could ensure. The general public was not permitted to stay for this portion of the meeting. Members declined to comment on what was voted on.


Robert W. Healy, Cambridge City Manager and Managing Trustee


Susan Schlesinger, Trustee

Beth Rubenstein, Assistant City Manager

Cassie Arnaud, Housing Planner

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