Quality of Life - Denise Simmons

Quality of Life

Addressing Poverty and Other Needs: Denise has continually looked for ways to make sure that the city does right by the less fortunate among us. Among her many innovations as mayor was the establishment of a monthly Mayoral Interfaith Leadership Breakfast. These monthly gatherings enable those on the front lines of providing social services to get to know one another, to become familiar with the large web of services offered in and around Cambridge, and to form strategic alliances. The meetings have been quite informative, and the clergy members have expressed amazement that no one had thought to establish something like this earlier. These monthly meetings have grown more robust during the 2016-2017 Council term, and Denise has been working with the City Manager in the hopes of establishing a formal City office designated to ensure these meetings continue into 2018 and beyond.

Affordable Housing: Denise’s commitment to affordable housing has been unwavering throughout her time on the City Council. Throughout her time in office, the majority of people who have come to Denise's office seeking help have been those experiencing a housing crisis, and she was able to provide assistance to more than half of them, via personal advocacy, providing useful information on how to access housing, or through creating policies that will increase the amount of affordable housing built in Cambridge. At her urging, the City Council recommended a change in the affordable housing program to require more 3-bedroom units in order to accommodate larger families. Denise is currently working to have the City review its eligibility formulas, in order to assist more Cambridge residents - or those who were recently displaced - secure an affordable unit. Denise and her staff have served as an intermediary for many individuals dealing with the local affordable housing providers, and they have served as advocates for those experiencing difficulties navigating the application process for the different housing agencies. Often times, this has proven to be the critical extra push towards securing housing.

Wellness: Denise has launched and/or participated in many projects that are designed to promote healthy living, including:

  • The Mayor‘s Wellness Initiative, a partnership between the Cambridge Public Health Department, the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, and the local Boston Sports Club that provided twelve mini-grants for wellness programs created by organized entities in the city.
  • Cambridge Walk-Ride Day: Denise participated in (and her office provided incentives for) this initiative, which is sponsored by the Harvard Square Business Association and Cambridge Green Streets, and which encouraged Cambridge residents to use alternative means of transportation to and from work or school at least one day per month. This program served the dual purpose of promoting health and wellness while reducing carbon emissions, a win-win situation for our city, state, country and planet.