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 Clergy Breakfast. These monthly gatherings enabled 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.

Denise also established a Mayoral Sock Drive and a Canned Goods Drive, and promoted the free Thanksgiving Meals for the less fortunate that local restaurants established. After a couple of devastating fires hit local apartment buildings, Denise helped coordinate relief efforts for the families that were left homeless and missing key possessions, and helped spread information and awareness of how to help these families.

Affordable Housing: Denise’s commitment to affordable housing has been unwavering. During her term as mayor, approximately 50% of constituents who came to her office were experiencing a housing crisis, and she was able to provide assistance to more than half of them. 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 pressed the City Council and City administration to look at eligibility formulas, as the current formula has left too many people below the income range for some of the affordable housing programs and projects. Under Denise’s guidance, the Mayor’s Office also served as an intermediary for many individuals dealing with the Cambridge Housing Authority, and served as an advocate for those who were having difficulties navigating the CHA’s application process. Often times, this proved 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 was 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.