Wednesday, February 6, 2013

30 Years of Affordable Homes in Cambridge

This blog is part of our anniversary celebration series, highlighting NeighborWorks affiliates which are celebrating milestone years marking either their membership in the network or their incorporation as an organization. Last month, Cambridge Neighborhood Apartment & Housing Services (CNAHS) celebrated 30 years since incorporation. 

By Brittany Hutson, NeighborWorks
America Public Relations fellow
Cambridge Neighborhood Apartment & Housing Services (CNAHS) understands how rental and homeownership costs in urban locations can severely strain the finances of low income families.  For 30 years, the organization has been dedicated to creating and preserving affordable housing in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In the late 1980s rent control in Cambridge was overturned through a statewide referendum.  CNAHS knew there would be a large number of displaced residents unable to find living space at a similarly affordable rate. To help alleviate this problem, CNAHS chose to focus on acquiring and preserving affordable homes. In particular, they targeted those properties where rent controls were expiring and owners were being permitted to convert them to market rate.

Peter Daly, executive director of CNAHS, says that some of CNAHS’ proudest achievements are their preservation projects and the fact that this work prevents lower income people from being outpriced and displaced.  “When we first encounter a project and the residents are very much aware of the threat of losing their homes, it’s an exhilarating experience to work with them [and] to give them hope that their homes will be restored at an affordable rate,” says Daly.
Putnam Green housing. Landscaping at the property features
drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plants (no grass).

CNAHS has preserved five buildings, totaling more than 515 apartments. “About two years ago, we started participating in a new state law in which the state appoints a designee to acquire and operate buildings that are subject to being sold,” says Daly. So far, the state has approved CNAHS as designee of two projects. This state designation is a recognition of the need for the organization’s work, and of all CNAHS has accomplished.

However, CNAHS is not content with just these successes; the organization has adopted a green approach to housing, development, and operations. “We believe in green because it is good for the environment, good for the residents and neighborhood, and good for the operations of the property,” explain Daly. CHAHS was one of 16 organizations in the NeighborWorks network recognized in December 2012 for its green business practices.  “The strength of being in the NeighborWorks network is having so many different organizations around the county doing similar things [as you],” says Daly. “You really get the feeling that you’re not alone. Whenever I come up with a problem or challenge, I can call another organization and we can share ideas or they can offer a solution.”

For more about CNAHS, visit:
For more about the NeighborWorks Green Organization program, visit: