A Two-City City
Cambridge is really a two-city city,” in the words of Ellen Semonoff, assistant city manager for Human Service Programs for the City of Cambridge.
"The demographics of Cambridge are a little bit unusual,” she says. “We’re really a city of the rich and the poor. We are in the midst of Harvard and MIT, and yet more than half of the children in our school system grew up and live in subsidized housing. We have a very large population of immigrants in this community. More than 50 percent of our children are children of color—and yet about two-thirds of the adult population is white.”
Effectively serving the public health needs of such a diverse community requires a “culture of collaboration” where government agencies, businesses and non-profit organizations come together to identify and address needs. The health department has been a major force in forging these alliances.