THE UNIVERSITY HAS REOPENED a wound inflicted on the Roxbury community years ago by the Affiliated Hospital Complex by informing over 100 tenants that they will have to leave their homes by September to make way for the hospitals' new power plant.
The notice appears to violate a 1970 agreement between Harvard and the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard Association that prohibits "taking of land within the RTH neighborhood by any institution until those residents affected are properly relocated into the new housing or other facilities satisfactory to them."
The tenants have rightly complained because the housing which they had been promised, located behind the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Roxbury, will not be completed for at least one-and-a-half years, and, in fact, has not yet been started.
The University's offer to hire a relocation consultant is a nice gesture. But no consultant is needed to clarify the meaning of the phrase "satisfactory to them," or the meaning of the tenants' statements that double relocation--first to temporary housing and later to the new housing--is unacceptable.
It seems difficult for the University to deny RTH's charges. And although Donald Moulton, assistant vice president for government and community affairs, has stated that Harvard does not "want this to be an effort where we swoop down, pluck folks out of some place and plop them down somewhere else," the strategy of quietly pushing the displaced tenants into housing they don't want hardly seems superior.
The tenants have waited years for the promised housing with little protest. The University should do the same for its power plant.