House Every Unhoused Person (April 2022)
Between January 1 and December 31, 2022, we want the City of Cambridge to use resources of residents, non-profits, institutions and local government to rehouse 400 individuals experiencing homelessness, and functionally end homelessness in Cambridge by December 1, 2023. Housing is a human right, and this goal is both possible and necessary. It is past time that we recognize that homelessness in Cambridge is a policy failure, and take definitive action to remedy our shortcomings.
This could be accomplished through the proposed Cambridge Unhoused Stipend Program (CUSP), which would cover the full cost of living for participating unhoused individuals and families for three years, and a significant portion (at least rent less 30% of household income) for the following 7 years. CUSP embraces a Housing First approach to ending homelessness, and performs three key activities:
Identifies eligible households,
Finds and secures available units, and
Moves those eligible households into those units, and provides long-term supportive services as necessary.
This plan is a working document and we are still acquiring more input from city staff and unhoused community members.
Right to Shelter (2021)
The Covid-19 pandemic has claimed the lives of 100 people from the Cambridge community since March 2020, with thousands more infected. The winter season of 2020 will present a great challenge to Cambridge, as people cope with multiple threats posed by influenza, Covid-19, and a wave of mass evictions. More than 700 eviction cases have been filed in state housing court for two of the three weeks after Thanksgiving, and while Cambridge’s eviction moratorium thankfully remains intact, unhoused residents of nearby municipalities may end up in Cambridge. In lieu of strictly enforced legal protections against eviction, including illegal evictions, the unhoused population in Cambridge will exponentially increase.
Congregate shelters in Cambridge, while they are good resources, are currently unable to provide safe shelter and social distancing at pre-pandemic levels for unhoused individuals and families that they used to serve. [...] Giving unhoused residents access to vacant hotel rooms has overwhelming support across the homeless population during the pandemic. It will provide these residents with a more safe and private housing option while they work with local, state, and federal resources to secure permanent, affordable, and stable housing solutions.
Without taking direct action to ensure that all Cantabrigians have access to quality housing, we cannot work with our neighbors to ensure that their other basic needs are met — food, healthcare, mental health counseling, or education. Failing to care for our unhoused population will lead to direct spread of Covid-19 cases as well as direct and perhaps unbearable pressures on basic functions of society, such as ICU bed capacity. In Cambridge, homelessness is also a racial justice issue since 40% of homeless individuals are Black, while only 11% of the total city population is Black. We have an imperative to prevent the pandemic from spawning an insurmountable human rights violation.