Vespucci Suggests Craig Arms As Public Housing Possibility
The council scheduled the hearing after CA announced several months ago that it was freezing applications for housing because they would automatically be diverted to the lengthy waiting lists.
He blamed the lack of public housing on "rather dramatic cuts to public housing "in the Reagan Administration's two-and-one-half year tenure. Wenched said the cuts equal about 25 percent of the pre-Reagan funding, and he added that the White House's budget proposal for next fiscal year allocates no funds for new public housing construction.
CHA's two principal construction projects-major renovations at the Jefferson Park and Washington Elms housing projects have already secured funds from the state and federal governments. Wenched said Both are scheduled to begin by April, he added.
Wenched said that the uncertain flow of federal assistance made long range planning difficult. "It's a guessing game to suggest the number of units available in the next five years.
But Councillor Saudra Graham, who chairs the council committee on housing, said it is imperative that CHA develop new sources of housing because a continued national economic slump would force "a rush of assistance to working class people, even with two people working in the family."
During the hearing. Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci told his colleagues and Wenched that he had located a state law that would allow the city to finance a major renovation all the 60-year-old Craigie Arms building outside of the debt limit set for Massachusetts cities.
The city's rent board has denied approval of the University's plan for renovating the 59 unit building. Harvard's proposal would create principally luxury housing, with 14 units subsidized for low and moderate income tenants.
Vellucci also suggested that faced with an eminent domain proceeding. Harvard might negotiate a more propitious arrangement will the city "If Harvard University wanted to be so generous as to offer the building, that would bring the cost down, wouldn't it?"
But Wenched said that state and federal guidelines would only allow for projects that cost under $70,000 per unit.
City Manager Robert W. Healy said in an interview last might that a CHA effort "to renovate and to acquire would not make it under the guidelines," and that "there needs to be some compromise" on acquisition to make the more feasible. He estimated the market value of Craigie Arms at about SI. 1 million. . He estimated the market value of Craigie Arms at about $1.1 million.