Cambridge Housing Authority’s Brighter Futures initiative is a dual-track investment in its properties and families over the next 40 years—rebuilding every home in its inventory while also offering a series of innovative programs that create opportunities for residents to build brighter futures .


But we can’t do it alone. Brighter Futures is seeking to raise $600,000 this year to ensure that future generations can create pathways toward self-reliance and break the cycle of poverty.

While CHA understands how important an affordable, quality home is in the lives of its residents, we also know that public housing alone is not enough to permanently break the cycle of poverty. That’s why for more than 30 years CHA has changed the trajectory of countless lives by fostering personal and professional growth among its families, enabling residents to create their own pathways toward self-reliance. Brighter Futures builds upon that legacy and make an even greater impact.


CHA is in the process of using the Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, to upgrade the city’s entire public housing inventory, an investment that will create homes built to last for decades. In addition, substantial investments are planned to enable residents of those homes to build brighter futures for themselves through innovative programs and services. 

"This program not only helped me get into a good school, but gave me a pathway to success."

Laura Jean, Work Force Graduate


More than 30 years ago, Cambridge Housing Authority began changing the trajectory of countless lives of public housing residents with a simple idea:  a holistic approach supports self-reliance and breaks the cycle of poverty for future generations. So, in 1984, in addition to providing safe, high-quality affordable housing, the agency began  initiatives designed to address the specific needs of residents of all ages and abilities.


To date, CHA’s resident service programs have built a remarkable  track record of success:


of Work Force participants go to college


of This Way Ahead participants had seasonal or permanent

job placement


of Work Force participants are no longer living in public housing


"This program is an investment in people. Not just now, but for their future.

Michael J. Johnston, Executive Director - Cambridge Housing Authority



The Work Force is a comprehensive educational enrichment, college prep, and work-readiness program for teenage residents of Cambridge public housing. Students in 8th through 12th grade participate in weekly after-school workshops that teach personal empowerment, educational attainment, and economic mobility skills at locations in the city’s three largest family public housing developments, as well as its only public high school.


The program also exposes participants to a variety of paid, part-time “exploratory” jobs with more than 45 local private and public sector employers who help them to hone workplace skills and  achieve their goals.



This Way Ahead is a rigorous, work readiness training program for low-income youth between the ages of 16 and 24. Through a partnership with Gap Inc., the program offers intensive customer service workshops led by program coordinators who teach basic employment skills, as well as skills specific to the retail environment.


In partnership with Compass Working Capital through the Financial Stability and Savings program (FSS+) and Rent-

to-Save pilot, CHA is expanding the opportunities available to residents for sustained asset-building. Over five years, participants focus on five core financial wellness areas:

  • Financial Goal Setting

  • Budgeting

  • Credit and debt

  • Savings

  • Identifying resources

In an era of reduced federal funding for public housing, Cambridge Housing Authority is making full use of a new tool to rebuild or rehab virtually its entire portfolio. That tool is called RAD, or Rental Assistance Demonstration. It allows a housing authority to use its operating and capital funds as leverage to attract private investment. The model serves the same public mission as traditional public housing but with a private real estate base.


CHA has become the first in the nation to extensively upgrade its portfolio with the help of RAD, a strategy that assures quality housing for CHA families. RAD also gives CHA the flexibility to refinance so as future capital needs arise they can be funded. Such refinancing is not possible under traditional public housing.

CHA has set in motion a model that will allow the agency to sustain and maintain the highest caliber housing for the low-income families and individuals we serve.


units of housing approved

for RAD conversion


in capital improvements through

RAD to date


of additional RAD conversions over the next three years




The Greater Boston community has dealt with generational poverty for decades. In recent years, the problems have become worse. A new study by the Brookings Institute found that Greater Boston has the sixth largest gap between low and high income earners among major U.S metro areas. Between 2007 and 2014 household income for low-income families fell by $2,204 per year, while those with the highest incomes increased by more than $30,000 per year.


In addition to being faced with growing income inequality, low-income families throughout Greater Boston are disappearing from more affluent communities. A Boston Globe report found that in 1970, 8% of families in Boston and surrounding cities and towns lived in the poorest neighborhoods but today, that figure has more than doubled to 20%. During the same period, the Globe found that the proportion of families living in the wealthiest neighborhoods nearly tripled from 6% to 16%.


This matters because children from low-income families have shown significantly better outcomes in life when they grow up in more affluent communities. Harvard University found that the eventual income of children from families who relocated to better neighborhoods increased by roughly 0.5% for each year they spent growing up there. But location is just one factor.


The level of support a child receives during critical developmental years also significantly impacts their life as an adult. A decade of research has confirmed that participation in well-implemented out-of-school time (OST) programs has a positive impact on academic, social/emotional, and health and wellness outcomes. In addition, OST programs that specifically focus on young people in middle and high school have been proven to help participants successfully navigate their adolescence and learn new skills as they approach adulthood. 

That’s why Cambridge Housing Authority has embarked on a dual-track investment in its properties and families - rebuilding every home in its inventory while also offering a series of innovative programs that create opportunities for residents to build brighter futures for themselves.



For over 30 years, CHA has been transforming lives with innovative programs such as The Work Force, This Way Ahead, FSS+, and Rent-to-Save. At CHA, we are committed to ensuring that these programs continue to operate successfully and to benefit the Cambridge community.

While CHA has sought financial support from outside contributors over the years, two-thirds of the funding has traditionally been provided by CHA’s operating budget. Given reductions in the federal funding for public housing, it is increasingly difficult for CHA to make up the difference and maintain these impactful programs.

It is imperative that we address our current budget shortfall to ensure the stability of these programs and our ability to invest in expanding opportunities.

greater VISION

For more than 30 years, CHA has changed the trajectory of countless lives. We need to build upon this legacy and make an even greater impact, but we need your help to do it.

With these programs CHA is positioning our residents in reaching their personal, educational, and economic potential. We need to expand our programs to increase educational opportunities for our residents – opportunities that will change more lives in our Cambridge community.

That’s why CHA is raising $3,000,000 over two years, which will eliminate the current budget shortfall and ensure that generations to come will have opportunities to build brighter futures.


John Lindamood

Director of Resident Services

Cambridge Housing Authority

362 Green Street, 3rd Floor
Cambridge, MA 02139

Phone: (617) 520-6266
Fax: (617) 649-2486

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