Affiliate Housing Rents Rose For '88-'89 Year

The cost of Harvard-affiliated housing rose over the past year by up to 13 percent over last year's rates.

Although rents for some housing complexes have changed little over the past year, most of them rose in June, according to rates published by Harvard Real Estate.

Studio apartments at Soldiers' Field Park, which were offered for $550 to $655 per month last year, are now $591 to $704 per month, an increase of 7 percent. One-bedroom apartments on Shaler Lane has risen by 13 percent, as have tow- and three-bedroom apartments on Walker St.

Sheldon Tandler, comptroller of Harvard Real Estate (HRE), offered a possible explanation. He said "a combination of inflation and a demand for housing" caused the increase in market-rate rents. He added that rates are arrived at by regression analysis and reviewed by a faculty committee.

Harvard rents 1700 apartments to affiliates in 13 apartment complexes. All are within a one-mile radius of the University. According to HRE's housing directory, the apartments are rented at current market rate to full-time Harvard affiliates only.

The increases took effect this summer as a City Councillor claimed that Harvard was charging rents below market rate in the buildings. He has since stopped calling the apartments underpriced but still says the University benefits unfairly from the units' tax-exempt status.

In a recent column in the Cambridge Chronicle, Councillor William H. Walsh said the "citizens of Cambridge deserve...an open examination of Harvard's affiliated housing policy and its impact on the presence of affordable housing in Cambridge."

Walsh wrote that Harvard enjoys "the best of both worlds" because the University can "invoke tax-exempt status for affiliated housing...turn around and rent it at full market value...claim the exemption and thereby be assured that those units [affiliated housing complexes] are not under rent control."

In the column, Walsh estimated that the affiliated housing "brings the University between $2,216,057 and $5,255,848 in excess income or windfall profit."

Tandler said putting the affiliate housing on the tax rolls would only raise rents for Harvard students.

Walsh's proposal will be discussed at the City Council meeting October 17.

Harvard's Community Affairs Department is scheduled to print a reply in this Thursday's Chronicle.