October 2020
A Message from the Executive Director - 
Affordable Housing Overlay is a "Game-Changer"
 
Earlier this month, the City of Cambridge took a bold step to address the city's affordable housing shortage. By a vote of 7-2, the City Council passed the long-debated Affordable Housing Overlay, which will amend the zoning code to incentivize affordable housing development and create more opportunities for affordable housing in neighborhoods across the city.
 
Just-A-Start and other affordable housing developers have worked closely with the City over the years to develop quality affordable housing that has both enhanced Cambridge's diversity and helped thousands of low- and moderate-income people to live and thrive in Cambridge.
 
However, it has become nearly impossible in the current market for us to compete with market-rate developers for developable sites in the city. The AHO will give us a very important tool to do so by allowing us to spread acquisition costs across more apartments, helping nonprofits like us to offer more housing opportunities in a city where they are urgently needed.
 
We are grateful to A Better Cambridge, which led the coalition that advocated for the AHO over the last three years. The Cambridge Community Development Department, which drafted the AHO, and the City Council deserve credit for an initiative that will not only make Cambridge a better and more diverse city, but will also be a model for other cities committed to expanding affordable housing opportunities. We're motivated every day by our mission to create access to stable housing, and the AHO helps us all get one step closer to a truly equitable community.
Standing against racism, in The Boston Globe

Our Executive Director Carl Nagy-Koechlin and Board Chair Peter Munkenbeck spoke out in the Boston Globe against the President's Executive Order restricting diversity training at workplaces and private companies that receive federal funding.

We receive significant federal grant funding to help young people without high school credentials or the resources to achieve their potential. Many face racial discrimination, blocking their pathways to education, employment, and leadership. Understanding and dismantling unconscious bias and systemic racism is crucial to our mission. Ongoing diversity and anti-racism training is a core part of our commitment to equity in our workplace and our community. This order harms hundreds of thousands of nonprofits committed to leading our communities forward, creating fair access to housing, education, healthcare, and more. We must stand together and this order must be rescinded.
Welcoming Carmen Chan, Director of Philanthropy

Please join us in welcoming Carmen Chan as Just-A-Start's Director of Philanthropy! In her new role, Carmen will oversee Just-A-Start's fundraising, marketing, and communications activities, developing and expanding strategic partnerships to meet the organization's goals and increase our impact in Cambridge and surrounding communities.
 
"I am energized to support new and growing initiatives to help low-income families to flourish," she said. Learn more about Carmen!
Protecting tenants as the MA Eviction Moratorium lapses

As the pandemic continues to threaten the economic and housing security of so many community members, Just-A-Start is working to help tenants remain in their homes. The automatic Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium ends October 17 at midnight, but a federal moratorium can prevent eviction for qualifying residents until December 31.

To be protected under this order, tenants must fill out a signed declaration form and present it to their landlord. Are you or someone you know at risk of eviction? Please visit our website for detailed information about how to qualify for protection, and spread the word.
Creating opportunities for affordable housing

The Cambridge City Council officially passed the Affordable Housing Overlay (AHO) on October 6! This ordinance will make it easier to create more affordable housing in Cambridge, allowing more individuals and families to live securely and affordably in neighborhoods across the city.
 
As a community development corporation in a city with extremely high land acquisition costs, it can be difficult for Just-A-Start to compete with market-rate developers when seeking to build affordable apartments. The AHO is a tool that can help level the playing field, creating more opportunities for residents to live at rents within their means.
Mask Cambridge

We are a proud member of the Cambridge Mask Alliance, a partnership of 12 local organizations that are working to make sure every Cambridge resident has access to masks this fall and winter. With the support of the City of Cambridge, the Cambridge Department of Public Health, Google Cambridge and many others, we stepped up together to supply more than 12,000 masks this summer. Will you help us supply thousands more? Visit here for more details on how you can get involved. (Photo: David Rabkin)