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Cantabrigians Seek Fair Rent From Harvard

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More than 70 students and members of the Cambridge community gathered in Sever Hall last night to discuss Harvard's management of its formerly rent-controlled property.

Speakers--including City Councillors Francis H. Duehay '55 and Michael A. Sullivan, as well as leaders of Cambridge neighborhood and tenant organizations--discussed Harvard's decision to convert 700 formerly rent-controlled apartments into housing for University affiliates.

Those who spoke at the event, titled "The Harvard Empire and Cambridge: Economic Violence in our Own Backyard," agreed that Cambridge does not have the resources to keep housing affordable after the end of rent control.

"Whatever the city does, it isn't going to be enough," Duehay said. "It isn't going to be nearly enough."

William Cavellini, another housing activist, agreed.

"The government can't solve this problem alone," he said.

The speakers agreed that the University, which owns five percent of Cambridge's formerly rent-controlled property, is in a special position to aid the city's mission to preserve affordable housing in Cambridge.

"The institutions in this city must see, must understand, must embrace this mission," Duehay said.

Although at least two-thirds of the attendees were community members, the discussion was clearly aimed at the Harvard community.

"We would like to ask all of you in the Harvard community to help all of us in finding a solution to this terrible problem," said JoAnne Preston, co-chair of the Agassiz Tenants Organization.

Melissa B. Weintraub '97, a member of Harvard Community for Affordable Housing (HCAH) said she was pleased that event brought students together with Cambridge residents.

"I think it's rare to have students and community members in a room at the same time," she said. "A lot of the community members are used to seeing students as the enemy, and I think now they're seeing that many students at Harvard are supportive."

"As students of Harvard, we didn't want Harvard invoking our name while evicting people from their homes," said HCAH member Shoshana Weiner '97.

"We don't want our needs arbitrarily pitted against the citizens of Cambridge," she said.

Doris M. Tanner, age 70, lives at 64 Oxford Street in a formerly rent-controlled apartment owned by Harvard. She says that Harvard has told her it will increase her rent by five percent each year.

"I've been able to manage the first one, but they're going to get tough after that," she said.

Tanner said that she hoped to bring the viewpoint of Agassiz neighborhood tenants to Harvard students.

Gillian M. Stewart '97, who attended the event, said that diversity in Cambridge is an issue important to her.

Harvard's housing policy, she said, "is an important issue, and one students need to get more involved in."

The event was sponsored by HCAH and Education for Action

"As students of Harvard, we didn't want Harvard invoking our name while evicting people from their homes," said HCAH member Shoshana Weiner '97.

"We don't want our needs arbitrarily pitted against the citizens of Cambridge," she said.

Doris M. Tanner, age 70, lives at 64 Oxford Street in a formerly rent-controlled apartment owned by Harvard. She says that Harvard has told her it will increase her rent by five percent each year.

"I've been able to manage the first one, but they're going to get tough after that," she said.

Tanner said that she hoped to bring the viewpoint of Agassiz neighborhood tenants to Harvard students.

Gillian M. Stewart '97, who attended the event, said that diversity in Cambridge is an issue important to her.

Harvard's housing policy, she said, "is an important issue, and one students need to get more involved in."

The event was sponsored by HCAH and Education for Action

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