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Housing Activists Meet With Harvard Officials

By Bartle Bull

Continuing their efforts to increase Harvard's commitment to helping Cambridge's homeless, representatives from a Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA) committee met with University officials Tuesday to discuss what the city's second-largest landowner could do to provide more affordable housing.

Stephan Klasen '91, who chairs the PBHA Homeless Committee, joined Sean Buffington '91 and Jeanne Theoharis '91, founders of the PBHA Committee on Housing Rights, for a meeting with three top University officials: Harvard Real Estate President Kristin Demong, Director of Community Relations Marilyn Lyng O'Connell and Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs John Shattuck.

At the meeting, Theoharis said the PBHA representatives presented Harvard with a petition signed by 1100 students and endorsed by the Cambridge City Council. The petition called on Harvard to fund a newsletter about its real estate holdings, "donate a lot of `developable land'" and allot 30 percent of its new housing to low-income families.

Shattuck said, "We are aware of the growing concern Harvard students have for this issue, so it was a very constructive meeting. It was particularly useful to discuss a variety of things Harvard is doing that Phillips Brooks House did not seem to be aware of. As for the future, Harvard is looking forward to working closely with the city on the issues of housing and homelessness."

Meanwhile, PBHA plans to continue the pressure. Tuesday's meeting was "hopefully the first of many," Theoharis said. "There are a great many people who feel strongly that it is about time to see an increase in Harvard's commitment to affordable housing and the homeless. A James Taylor concert is not enough."

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