Stable and Affordable Housing

As your City Councilor, I will advocate for:

  • The creation of an Office of Housing Stability to provide assistance and resources to residents and landlords;
  • Preserving and increasing affordable housing for lower-to middle-income households by demanding diverse housing from developers while protecting and building affordable housing with nonprofit and for-profit partners to achieve overall stability in housing costs;
  • Establishing a robust community benefits agreement process with community engagement for new developments, higher linkage fees, and other mechanisms to meet our diverse housing needs and strengthen neighborhoods;
  • Construction of more affordable on-campus university housing;
  • Regional conversations and collaboration with neighboring cities and towns to pursue and implement regional housing solutions.

I’ve fought to protect affordable housing and will continue to advocate for the preservation and increase of affordable housing. In my post as Director of Public Policy, I organized legislative hearings and facilitated conversations among tenant advocates from the Chinese Progressive Association and City Life/Vida Urbana, landlords, and lawyers. Our work resulted in a landmark agreement that is a model for protecting the availability of affordable housing. I’ve also mediated an election of a public housing tenant council so that they could have the structure to represent and advocate for the residents’ needs. Through these experiences, I’ve gained valuable insights into the complex issues relating to housing affordability and stability. Now, I’m ready to bring my experience to tackling these challenges in Cambridge.

Housing affordability continues to be the most challenging issue for renters and homeownership. More than half of Cambridge residents—especially lower to middle income households-- pay more than they can reasonably afford for housing. Too many of us are sacrificing basic needs, living in fear of displacement, being pushed out and unable to return. As a result, skyrocketing housing costs are threatening the fabric and the diversity of our community.

Cambridge can do better. Working people, families, seniors, long-term residents and newcomers, and the most vulnerable among us should have stable and affordable housing that enables them to live in our city. Increasing the Inclusionary Development Policy to 20% was a good step forward, but we must continue to look at additional solutions and strategies to ensure stability, socio-economic diversity and housing options—before more of us and our children will be forced to leave. We have the tools and a wealth of resources to take on this challenge together and the courage to provide stability and affordable homes so that all can continue to be part of our vibrant and thriving Cambridge.

Economic Equity for All

I will work for:

  • Expanding access to quality early childcare through government, non-profit and business partnerships by looking at local revenue sources; locating childcare centers at transit-oriented spaces to make drop-off and pickup more convenient for parents who live in the area; and expanding the hours to accommodate low-wage workers and working families;
  • Building a stronger workforce development pipeline for youth and adults by increasing partnerships with higher education, research and nonprofit organizations, and the business community in order to help youth and adults gain better jobs that pay a sustainable living wage;
  • The creation of a Small Business & Entrepreneur Resource Center to provide resources, guidance, mentorship, and advocacy to small businesses, entrepreneurs, workers’ co-ops, and women and minority-owned businesses in order to dismantle barriers;
  • Strategies that will stabilize commercial rent for locally-owned businesses;
  • Exploring finance models to provide seed funding to entrepreneurs, workers’ co-ops and small businesses to close the disparities in access to capital.

For years, I’ve worked as an advocate, entrepreneur, and policy director engaging directly with diverse communities to develop solutions that overcome obstacles for shared prosperity.

After passing the bar and volunteering as a pro-bono attorney, I opened a small law practice because I saw the gap in services and barriers faced by immigrants who wanted to remain in our community and entrepreneurs who wanted start and sustain small businesses. As counsel, I advised entrepreneurs about how to create and remain in compliance with regulations and requirements. I also guided immigrants and families through the complex filings for visas, permanent residency, and citizenship.

I’ve continued my entrepreneurship as a co-founder of a nonprofit that focuses on providing educational and learning resources to underserved communities— particularly families with young children.

From these diverse, real-word experiences, I strongly believe that we must continue to support our local economy for all by advocating for jobs that pay sustainable living wages, access to early childcare, and innovative approaches to support small business and entrepreneurs to start and succeed.

Community Development and Sustainability

I will work for:

  • The creation of an equitable, community-led planning and engagement process for short- and long-term community development so that all residents, businesses, and institutions—including those historically underrepresented in planning processes such as communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities—can actively participate in and influence decision-making earlier on and throughout the plan;
  • The creation of an equitable, community-led planning and engagement process for short- and long-term community development so that all residents, businesses, and institutions—including those historically underrepresented in planning processes such as communities of color, low-income communities, immigrant communities, and people with disabilities—can actively participate in and influence decision-making earlier on and throughout the plan;
  • Requiring new development projects to set aside a portion of space for locally-owned businesses and to include a community engagement process to attract goods and services necessary to serve the needs and demand in the neighborhood;
  • A preference for locally-owned businesses in publicly owned buildings;
  • Our City’s commitment to be a leader in sustainable efforts by expanding outreach and education about the Net-Zero Action Plan, Climate Change Preparedness & Resilience (CCPR) Plan, and the expansion of the Curbside Compost Pilot;
  • Local strategies that include but are not limited to tracking and expanding quality green jobs and training programs—especially for our neighbors from socioeconomically disadvantaged communities;
  • Explore funding models to make renewable energy more affordable; accelerate the movement toward making Cambridge a 100% renewable energy and Net-Zero city; support carbon offset projects for community gardens, open-green space and tree plantings, retaining rainwater; and, pursue other sustainability projects;
  • Collaborating with neighboring cities and agencies to address climate change and resiliency preparedness;
  • A city government that reflects our diverse community and residents.

As a former policy director, I partnered with diverse communities on initiatives relating to housing, education, transportation and economic development. From these experiences, I strongly believe that it’s vital to approach development and sustainability utilizing an inclusive community-driven planning process so that everyone can participate in and benefit from the decisions that shape their neighborhoods.

As Cambridge grows and our climate changes rapidly—with sea level rise, flooding, and extreme weather (from storms to heat waves), we must continue with our commitment to being a leader in sustainability and include a vital environmental justice lens so that all residents have access to healthy neighborhoods with clean air and water, open community space and playgrounds, public transit, alternative renewable energy, jobs and services. I’m committed to ensuring that our at-risk areas and populations are not disproportionately by climate change and environmental threats.

Transit and Access

I will advocate for:

  • Prioritization of transit-oriented development with diverse jobs, services, activities, and housing near transit hubs to decrease the burden of traveling and the reliance on cars while reducing greenhouse gas emissions;
  • Making walking and biking more viable forms of transportation with a complete network of protected bike lanes and safe sidewalks;
  • Creating an action plan for short-, medium-, and long-term improvements that will support and manage pedestrian, bike, and vehicular traffic, reduce congestion, support local businesses, and maintain safety for all.

As a pedestrian, cyclist, and driver, I am committed to ensuring that we have safe streets, walkable neighborhoods, and a comprehensive bike and delivery network. We need to be efficient with our street space and make alternative modes of transportation more viable for all.

As developments—such as those in Alewife, Central Square, and Kendall Square—increase population and traffic congestion, we must have an infrastructure plan to meet capacity needs, maintain safety for all commuters, and promote our sustainability goals for a more resilient, healthy, Net-Zero city.

We must also look at transit and access with an equity lens to ensure that everyone—including persons with disabilities, seniors, youth, immigrants, people of color, and low-income populations—have affordable, reliable, and sustainable transportation options near their homes in order to get to work, take their children to school and parks, and get to the grocery store, place of worship, or doctor’s office.

Investing in Our Future, Our Children

I will advocate for:

  • Increasing funding for quality, affordable early child-care and universal public pre-K education because investment in early childhood education gives every child a strong start, saves communities money in the long term, and reduces homelessness, hunger, poverty, and crime.
  • Increasing out-of-school time enrichment opportunities such as STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) internships by collaborating with local universities, institutions and entrepreneurs;
  • Providing parents and teachers with the support and resources they need to strengthen the cradle to career pipeline for success.

As an immigrant whose family resettled in Kansas when I was four years old after living in two refugee camps for two years, I saw how clearly childcare and education were to my success in overcoming obstacles. In the Philippines refugee camp, I attended school while my parents took English classes in preparation to come to the U.S. In the US, my parents worked hard as janitors and factory workers—holding side jobs—to make ends meet. As a result of the support provided by my parents and community and early education opportunities, I was able to graduate from college, teach English to elementary public schools students in Paris, earn my law degree, and become an attorney, entrepreneur, and policy director.

Now as a young parent, I’m passionate about ensuring that every child has a strong start and equitable access to opportunities.