Saturday, March 30, 2013

Harvard University’s Disappearing Elderly Housing temporarily resolved?

1. Favored buyer looks as good as can be expected.
2. Resolving the permanent housing issue?
3. Abbreviated summary.

1. Favored buyer looks as good as can be expected.

Thursday afternoon, March 28, 2013, I was again high above the eastern end of Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, USA.

This was the meeting room at the top of the massive 2 Mount Auburn elderly complex which Harvard University is trying to sell.

It would appear that Harvard has negotiated a “purchase and sale” agreement with Homeowners’ Rehab, Inc., the Cambridge manager of subsidized housing which has been the buyer of choice from the point of view of Cambridge, MA, USA, and of the residents.

It was basically a pleasant gathering, a welcome change from the prior two meetings on this matter which I have attended. Many residents had reflexive hostile vibrations because of past grievances with Harvard / Harvard’s managers. HRI looked responsive. HRI has an excellent record in the field in Cambridge.

2. Resolving the permanent housing issue?

This meeting was chaired by Representative / Councillor Decker, as was the last meeting at 2 Mount Auburn. Also present was Councilor Reeves, who chaired the last meeting overall, which was conducted at Cambridge City Hall.

I tried to straighten out the issue that Decker had had, in her disagreement on with the Cambridge Housing Authority representative during the last meeting.

I pointed out that Decker had contended the property would be permanently guaranteed for affordable housing whereas the Cambridge Housing Authority had said 30 years would be the maximum guarantee.

The presence of HRI as the apparent purchaser greatly defused displeasure in the room.

I reported that Councilor Reeves had commented at his meeting that the permanent affordable housing guarantee was based on activities of Councilor / Representative Graham in 1973. I further reported that I had provided Reeves’ committee with the copy of the relevant Board of Zoning Appeal file and that the file was dated 1970. I reported that there was no guarantee of permanence in the BZA file.

Reeves apparently got his dates off by three years. He concurred with the 1970 date, but Decker was very much insistent that there is a guarantee of permanence based on the Graham discussions.

A lot of the key people discussing the matter, if not all, are unlikely to be around in 30 years (or whatever the formal guarantee winds up as). I would love to still be here then, to help out if necessary.

We will see, maybe. I do know I lack confidence in the Cambridge City people I was dealing with.

3. Abbreviated summary.

I was not around for the actual negotiations way back when. I was involved in public discussions not that much afterwards. The mentality of folks in the room when I was involved in discussions not that long later was that a lot of people considered the deal just another maneuver for Harvard to expand Harvard. That does not sound like a permanent guarantee had been agreed to. Then there were the games that Harvard played with parking zoning in the meantime. The changed distance allowed for accessory parking were clearly made to allow conversion to Harvard affiliated housing. That made it very clear that Harvard did not recognize any “permanent” guarantee. I very seriously doubt the accuracy of the claims of “permanence.”

My impression very clearly has been that 2 Mount Auburn was just another of the subsidized con games. Harvard and the Cambridge Machine tried the same con game in an attempt to destroy Corporal Burns Playground a few blocks away on the Charles River / Memorial Drive, so as to add half of Corporal Burns Playground to the Harvard empire.

The developer gets buildings much larger that it would otherwise, and paid for by the rents. In 30 years, the tenants are dumped on the street or juggled into the next generation of the con. People are used and abused.

I will not repeat my past analysis. Within limits, I am happy that HRI is in the process of being put in place. HRI is clearly the next best alternative to Cambridge taking the property by eminent domain. The latter, of course, would be done if Cambridge were the city it claims to be.

BUT the current principals of HRI will not be there in 30 years. And the normal situation in Cambridge is “activists” who are people who cannot recognize any reality other than what they have apparently been told is reality. The people pulling the strings of the “activists” are always hidden in the smoke. And the “activists” loudly proclaim reality to be whatever they are told is reality by the people who pull their strings, no matter how bizarre the proclaimed “reality”.

It would be nice if accurately identifying reality became politically correct in the City of Cambridge, MA, USA. But that will require replacement of a very bad situation with something reasonably resembling what the Cambridge Pols claim to be providing.