The undergraduate Houses and dormitories this year face up to a 15 per cent deficit on their $5.5 million budget that may lead to an increase in student rent charges and a cutback in housing services.
Dean Whitlock yesterday predicted that the loss--due to rising costs and inflation--would be anywhere from $500,000 to $800,000, the largest housing deficit in Harvard's history.
Last year the Houses were $190,000 in the red.
This year's estimated deficit would be in addition to the $2.5 million Dean Rosovsky has said the Faculty may lose this year.
The Faculty is responsible for administering the Houses' budgets--which include costs for the use of House facilities, House libraries, House masters' entertainment funds, and tutors' salaries--even though the budget is separate from that of the Faculty.
"The deficit we are facing is of such a great magnitude that we simply don't know how we're going to deal with it," Whitlock said.
But Bruce Collier, dean of the College for Houses, said yesterday the University is considering its options on ways to cut the size of the projected losses, which he called "alarming."
"The really astounding thing," he said, "is not the size of the anticipated loss but the fact that it's gone so high in one year."
Collier said that although he did not know how much rooming charges would go up next year, "the implication for their cost is astounding."
Cutbacks resulting from last year's deficit and this year's anticipated losses may include substituting student dorm crews for custodial teams, postponing optional maintenance work and "just generally taking a harder look at everything we do in the Houses," Collier said.
Collier also said that the actual size of the deficit would depend heavily on how high fuel costs go and on the terms of a Buildings and Grounds contract which is now being negotiated.
"We have to realize that there is a strong danger here," Collier said, "and that we may have to make strong changes."
Collier and Whitlock said they did not anticipate cutbacks in the present number of House tutors.
Although the University is considering a plan which would close down Harvard for January and February to save fuel, such a plan would not be adopted this year, Collier said.