Suspicions About Faculty Housing


For two dozen years the web of Harvard-owned property has expanded rapidly with purchases of land in and around Cambridge.

When the Daly Report to the Cambridge Community came out last October, the buying spree officially ground to a halt.

This month in a series of articles on housing, The Crimson revealed that the University would divest itself of approximately 25 properties rented to faculty and administrators.

The housing situation has financial angles that are raising eyebrows around the University. The crux of the issue is rents--at least 8 of the 25 faculty tenants pay monthly rents lower than those for comparably priced homes on the open market.

The rent subsidies are coming from the University, and costing a large, though undetermined, amount of money each year. The monetary loss is undetermined because the University does not have an up-to-date appraisal of its holdings. Efforts by outsiders to figure the loss are stymied by the University's refusal to provide rent information.


The subsidies and divestiture plan have brought up a host of related issues. Among them:

Conflict of interest. President Bok and three University vice presidents live in Harvard-owned houses and will take part in the divestiture decision. But that decision could have implications in their personal finances.

Tax violations. The Internal Revenue Service Tuesday began an investigation whether Harvard correctly reported rental subsidies given to the faculty tenants. The IRS will also check possible violations by the tenants. Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, almost admitted improprieties when he said this week that Harvard will be filing more 1099 forms for miscellaneous income next year.

Tax exemptions. Cambridge City Council Monday night unanimously ordered the Board of Assessors to determine whether three tax-exempt properties should be on the local tax rolls. The resolution specifically cite the official residences of President Bok, President Horner and Rev. Krister Stendahl, dean of the Divinity School, but also requested an investigation of all Harvard property.

Assessments. City Councillor Saundra Graham announced that the Grass Roots Organization, a community group, is preparing figures on tax assessments and rebates in Cambridge.

Property management. Harvard is dropping its long-standing property management relationship with Hunneman and Co., Inc., and transfering the duties to the Buildings and Grounds Department and the Real Estate Office. The centralization move, designed to save management fees, ends the "buffer zone" between the University and its tenants