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Harvard-City Housing Plan Falters

After Agreeing to Proposal, City Council Calls for Six Month Delay

By R. ALAN Leo

Discord among Cambridge neighborhood organizations may jeopardize a June agreement between Harvard and the Cambridge City Council over the fate of nearly 700 of the University's formerly rent-controlled apartments.

After the Council voted June 24 to endorse Harvard's plan to set aside 74 units for its low income tenants, sell 100 units to the city and convert the remainder to affiliate housing, City Councillors, Harvard administrators, and tenant activists thought they could celebrate.

But three weeks later, the Council passed a proposal that was tabled at the June meeting. The proposal, authored by Mid-Cambridge Neighborhood Organization President John R. Pitkin and introduced by City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves '73 called for six months of discussion between Harvard and neighborhood groups before the University instituted its housing plan.

Randy Fenstermacher, co-chair of the Agassiz Tenants Organization, says that the new proposal endangers months of progress and a agreement that most neighborhood residents like.

"Finally, when the deal is just about sealed, John Pitkin comes out of the woodwork and tries to change the focus to his issue," he says.

"We're surprised about this," says James H. Rowe III '73, Harvard's vice president for government and community affairs. "It's given us some pause."

A pause that Rowe says will last, at best, until 1997.

But Pitkin says that more time is exactly what is needed. The original agreement focused almost exclusively on issues of affordable housing, he argues, and paid too little attention to community stability.

Another six months would give the community time to receive assurances from Harvard about issues ranging from length of leases to whether the University would sell condominiums to its affiliates.

But Fenstermacher charges that the amendment is the product of neighborhood homeowners' hostility to affordable housing.

"In some cases," Fenstermacher says, "They're opposed to it. They don't want affordable housing in general."

Pitkin says that he supports the gains made in affordable housing, but that affordability is only one part of the solution.

He says that this split is the first he can remember between neighbor- up to 10 dollars it was a significant jump for most of our members," said Williams.

She said that for people with kids or chronic illnesses, such copayments can add up.

"It took us longer to come to an agreement than I thought it would, but now that we've reached an agreement we're extremely happy about it because it allows us to provide some economic relief for our members who need to go to the doctor a lot," said Williams.

Faculty and staff members desiring reimbursement are required to save receipts and file acclaim, according to the Gazette.

The Gazette also reported that "there will be a limited fund to provide financial assistance for those who exceed the stop-loss for co-payments in 1996."

While Williams was generally pleased with the plan, she said she wished it wasn't necessary.

"I'd love to live in a world where there's no such thing as a copayment," said Williams. "Nobody I know goes to the doctor cause they're bored and they're looking for something to do."

The Gazette also reported that Harvard will offer four new health plans in 1997, including three point-of-service plans and one Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

Williams said she was pleased with this development.

"I think it's a good move for the University to explore more options within that kind of health care providing," said Williams. "I think it's a good response to the health care dilemna that all employers are facing.

She said that for people with kids or chronic illnesses, such copayments can add up.

"It took us longer to come to an agreement than I thought it would, but now that we've reached an agreement we're extremely happy about it because it allows us to provide some economic relief for our members who need to go to the doctor a lot," said Williams.

Faculty and staff members desiring reimbursement are required to save receipts and file acclaim, according to the Gazette.

The Gazette also reported that "there will be a limited fund to provide financial assistance for those who exceed the stop-loss for co-payments in 1996."

While Williams was generally pleased with the plan, she said she wished it wasn't necessary.

"I'd love to live in a world where there's no such thing as a copayment," said Williams. "Nobody I know goes to the doctor cause they're bored and they're looking for something to do."

The Gazette also reported that Harvard will offer four new health plans in 1997, including three point-of-service plans and one Health Maintenance Organization (HMO).

Williams said she was pleased with this development.

"I think it's a good move for the University to explore more options within that kind of health care providing," said Williams. "I think it's a good response to the health care dilemna that all employers are facing.

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