Author: Tom Acitelli
Date: May 27, 2015
What are you looking at above? A chart courtesy of the office of Cambridge City Councilman Dennis Carlone. It shows the construction of new housing in the city over the last quarter-century; and as you can clearly see that construction has largely been going up. From an explanation accompanying the graph: "Over the past decade, some 4,087 units of new housing have been built in the City of Cambridge — with 1,356 of those units being built since 2010. In addition, there are some 5,408units of new housing in construction or permitted for construction across the City right now." Will this be enough to bring down the city's notoriously high rents and prices?
The short answer is no. But! Cambridge, as Carlone's office notes, is doing more than most municipalities re: housing development: "According to the Greater Boston Housing Report Card, not a single permit for new multifamily housing was issued last year in 121 of the 161 communities that make up the Greater Boston area." Seriously. The longer answer is yes, Cambridge's development pace may mitigate the city's famously escalating housing costs. More supply can satisfy demand.
But, Part II! Said demand will remain steady, like, forever, given the city's location and the universities within it. That means Cambridge may have to start looking at other measures, such as setting aside greater shares of new developments for affordable housing. Or building a lot moreunits than the thousands already planned, underway or recently finished. Don't count on that, though.