PBHA Program Aids Needy Tenants

While life inside the ivory tower goes on independently of Cambridge's current housing crisis, some Harvard students are fighting to maintain affordable housing in the Boston area.

The Housing Opportunities Program (HOP), established in 1989 by the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), provides financial assistance to struggling families trying to find a place to call home.

Nirosha Nimalasuriya '98, one of the group's two coordinators, says that the PBH program has been under increased pressure to lend funds in recent years.

"We have definitely had more people demanding our services in the past few years," she says.

Peter Clenot, a social worker at Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), has worked extensively with the PBH group.

Clenot finds the Harvard help instrumental in the early stages of a tenant's attempt to rent an apartment.

"While they [low-income tenants] can swing the rent, a big hold-up is the down payment," Clenot says.

HOP selects tenants after reviewing their sources of income and past rental history, their ability to pay and the availability of units.

Typically, the PBH group lends anywhere from $600 to $1,000 as a down payment.