What’s New: City Beat

women's suffrageSofia And Kim Bernstein. Photo by Derek Kouyoumjian.

Commemoration of Women’s Suffrage is in the Works

A committee will oversee the creation of a public monument honoring the local community’s role in the women’s suffrage movement, Curbed Boston reports. The effort to commemorate this historical moment was sparked last year by local teenager Sofia Bernstein and her mother, Kim. “It was shocking when I learned that in Cambridge we only have three statues that depict women, and none of them are real historical figures,” Sofia reportedly said at a city council meeting last year. “Symbols matter, especially to kids.” Both Sofia and her mother will be honorary members of the new committee. Officials hope that whatever commemoration is chosen will be in place by Aug. 26, 2020, the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Cycling Safety Ordinance is ‘First of its Kind’

If you’ve been eyeing a new bike on Craigslist or delaying getting your tires pumped up, now is the time. The city demonstrated its commitment to safe biking with the passage of the Cycling Safety Ordinance earlier this spring, the Boston Globe reports. The ordinance gives sticking power to the Cambridge Bicycle Plan, a proposed network of protected bicycle lanes spanning 20 miles across the city. Under the ordinance, which has gained national attention as a “first of its kind” law, the city must add “permanent, separated bike lanes” when doing reconstruction on any of the roads identified in the plan. While this doesn’t mean every street that’s under construction in the city will get a bike lane, “It does move us forward to completing this network that we have been talking about for many, many years,” Mayor Marc McGovern told the Globe. 

Harvard Health Services May Use App For Medical Advice

Sure, your phone can replace books, TV, and the radio—but can it serve as a substitute for your doctor? Harvard’s Health Services announced this spring that it’s looking into testing an app that would allow students to diagnose their symptoms from their homes, saving them a trip to the campus health services center, the Harvard Crimson reports. Students who feel under the weather would be able to answer a series of questions on the app, which would then process their responses and offer a diagnosis. The university hopes this would cut down on traffic in the health center, allowing those who really need to see a doc face-to-face to get in faster. 

Proposal for Affordable Housing District Goes to Housing Committee

Zoning and Development Director Jeff Roberts brought a proposal to the Housing Committee that called for a relaxation in zoning limitations for projects that create permanent affordable housing, the Cambridge Chronicle reports. Eighty percent of these units would be occupied by residents whose gross household income is no higher than 80 percent of the area median income. In the 2013-17 American Community Survey, that was $67,962 for individual full-time workers and $118,376 for families. “This is a proposal that speaks to the lost middle, you know, people between 50 and 80 percent of median,” Susan Schlesinger, of the Affordable Housing Trust, told the Chronicle. “We’re losing people everyday.”

City Charts New Plans to Address Opioid Crisis 

The city has seen more opioid-related deaths than deaths related to traffic crashes and violent crimes in recent years, according to Police Commissioner Branville Bard, Jr. In response to the epidemic, the city released a report this spring recommending additional strategies for combating the opioid crisis, the Cambridge Chronicle reports. These strategies each fall within one of five categories: preventing death, coordination, public awareness, treatment, and reducing the supply of opioids. One long-term “preventing death” recommendation, for example, is the creation of safe injection sites, or places where users can consume drugs in a supervised environment and receive life-saving care if they overdose. The report also recommends shorter-term goals, like regular training programs on the administration of naloxone (Narcan) for everyone living and working in Cambridge, the establishment of an Engagement Service Center that would streamline the process of seeking treatment for substance abuse, and a public awareness campaign that emphasizes that addiction is an illness.

Legal Defense Fund in Place for Immigrants

Mayor Marc McGovern, together with the Cambridge Community Foundation (CCF) and Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone, established the United Legal Defense Fund for Immigrants earlier this spring, according to a press release. The goal of the fund, the CCF’s website says, is to raise $500,000 for grants to support legal services for immigrants. “By unifying efforts to raise funds for the most vulnerable families in our community, we can help valued neighbors and stabilize families impacted by the stress and uncertainty of ongoing shifts in TPS and DACA status, and those seeking asylum,” CCF President Geeta Pradhan said in the release.

This story originally appeared in the What’s New section of the Voices of the City Issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 200 locations throughout the city or by subscription.

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