To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
One of the key demands of last April's strike relates to the effects of Harvard's expansion into the Cambridge and Boston community. It is clear from data on Harvard's growth and population, and housing market trends in the city as a whole, that the effect of Harvard's presence has been to raise rents sharply and force low-income families out of the city. Specifically, by not building a sufficient amount of housing to take care of its own growth, the University forced its students and faculty onto the private market where through greater economic power they in effect forced (and continue to force) low-income families and the elderly to leave the city or to pay 40-50 per cent of their income for rent.
Demands put forth by the Graduate School of Design Assembly called for immediate steps by the University to compensate the community by restoring a substantial number of units to the low-income housing stock. It was proposed that this be done by assigning at least 25 per cent of Harvard's current stock of non-dormitory units to the leased public housing program and by constructing a minimum of 1500 low-rent units (in addition to 1500 units for its own personnel).
The very first opportunity for such responsible action occurs on the Sachs Estate, a vacant six-acre site on the Cambridge-Somerville line. Following years of opposition by faculty members living in the area, which served to prevent any construct oin, theto? Rbrc etaoi etaoin N.. prevent any construction, the University decided to build about 120 units. Under pressure from within the University and the community, the number has been increased to 300 units, and a development proposal will shorly be submitted to the City Council for necessary zoning.
There are two problems with the University's latest proposal:
1.) It still is not intensive enough use of one of the very few large vacant sites in Cambridge (and vacant sites are particularly valuable because they don't require any family relocation). The site should be developed for 500 units, the same as Peabody Terrace (also on a six-acre site).
2.) No provision has been made for housing non-University people, low-income or otherwise. Here is a perfect opportunity for Harvard to respond to a clear need, which it has largely caused. The proposal should provide 250 units of housing for University personnel and 250 units for low-income residents of Cambridge, who will otherwise be forced to leave the city. Only in this way can the University demonstrate that it is beginning to respond to trelegitimate demands of last April.