MHFA Changes Its Mind

POWER

One week ago things looked pretty dim for the Mission Park Housing Project. Just a few days earlier William J. White, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, dropped a bomb-shell by recommending to his board that the Harvard-backed development not receive a $39 million mortgage loan.

The decision infuriated Harvard officials, who had worked hard to comply with the housing agency's stringent rules and had assumed that the money was as good as earmarked for the development.

Harvard and the Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, the developer and future owner of the housing, moved quickly after White spoke against the plant, apparently notifying state, local and even federal politicians that the housing was in trouble and that White must change his mind by the next board meeting in order to save the project.

So last Wednesday, when White once again went before the board the pressure was on him to have a change of heart. And White's decision reflected that pressure. Within a few moments after he announced that the project should receive top priority for remaining funds, the drama was over. The board voted unanimously to commit the $39 million for Mission Park.

White says now that Harvard's lobbying wasn't as important in his second decision as his inability to place a private loan for the project. But it seems unlikely that many of the competing projects had the guns behind them that Mission Park had.