Cambridge currently has one the highest median contract rental prices for both owners and renters, estimated at nearly $2,000 a month. As the CHA indicates, housing is a national crisis with nearly 50% of low-income renters who are cost-burdened from rental prices. Cambridge, as the Foundation’s Equity & Innovation Cities report indicates, is no exception, requiring an income of $106,800 to afford an average market rate apartment. The CHA report reinforces that fact and cites the National Low-Income Housing Coalition who found that a two-bedroom apartment requires an income of at least six figures: the equivalent of 150 hours a week of work at minimum wage. As Cambridge’s innovation economy grows and the city attracts new residents, housing prices have skyrocketed. As of fiscal year 2020, the combined assessed value of residential property in Cambridge was more than $32 billion, up from $9.5 billion in 1990 – 350% growth, precipitating an affordability crisis and the decline in middle- and low-income households, with fewer Cambridge residents likely to be homegrown.
The CHA’s publication is a stark reminder that that these numbers and data points reflect human beings with real needs and this powerful compilation of stories convey hardships that many Cantabrigians confront, bringing the reader face to face with the harsh reality of the current competitive housing market. These stories and the changing face of our city also lift up a question voiced by residents in the Equity & Innovation Cities report: “Who is Cambridge for now?”