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To the Editors of the Crimson:
This is a note of appreciation for Reporter-Photographer John A. Day's guarded approval of our building at Two Mt. Auburn Street. Threading one's way through the bureaucratic and financial maze that characterizes the business of providing housing for low and moderate income families is, at best, a frustrating and at worst, a masochistic life a style. Even a guarded prognozis is, at least, modestly uplifting to the morale.
You quite properly raise a legitimate question about "the implications of segregating a large portion of our society" and suggest that "the long-term effects it may have on people's live are not at all clear."
We, too, have shared that concerns and I would like to make a few points that derive from out thinking process.
If you pose the question in your terms to the consumer (the elderly resident), you are likely to find an overwhelming majority opting for some form of separation (i.e.: segregation). (NOTE: I did just that as a moderator at a Conference for Senior Citizens a couple of weeks back. Answer--thirty-two elderly persons wanted separate facilities; two voted in favor of a separate elderly facility as part of a larger development that also included family housing: one voted for a mingling of both elderly and family units.)
Two Mt. Auburn Street is relatively small scale (94 units). It hardly qualifies, therefore, as a self-contained ghetto. It is located in a vibrant and accessible section of the Cambridge community--where the elderly have an opportunity to make a voluntary choice between participation in the outside hurly-burly or retreating to a safer haven with their peers.
We have had a real preoccupation with helping to build a sense of community on a resident--owner cooperative basis--hopefully with some degree of success. This ingredient may be more important than almost any other one.
The small scale of the building and its particular location in relation to the basic fabric of the City may, in fact, be a more direct response to your expressed concern than the fact that the building happens to be wholly occupied by elderly residents.
I might note in passing that Harvard may deserve a bit more than the grudging brownie points which you accorded it. The Cambridge Corporation has been dependent in very substantial measure on Harvard and M.I.T. for its financial lifetime; this development would not have happened without the catalytic melding that derived from that relationship; and it has acknowledgeably made a real difference in the way of life of its 106 residents. Oliver Brooks President Cambridge Corporation
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