Some thoughts on what the Globe wrote:
"The Boston Redevelopment Authority will review the projects, with plenty of neighborhood input."
- Hopefully that input will be considered as important during the process of reviewing and improving the project. Because what is the point of review if the project emerges from the review essentially unchanged (as we experienced this year with community "review" of Harvard's Science Complex). It would be great for the Mayor say about development in Allston what he said about a project in Readville a few months ago:
"Some of the neighbors would prefer to see the low-income housing spread out, rather then concentrated in one place. But would Charlesview residents want to be scattered about the neighborhood? A straight land swap seems simplest."
"It's serious density... We want to make sure it's a well-planned neighborhood that is put together in concert with the people who live in the neighborhood. Some of them have lived there for 75 years or more."
- Since when does "simplest" equal "best"?
- What I have heard neighbors suggest is that this should be a true "mixed-income" development that follows industry best practices by having 1/3 market rate, 1/3 public housing, and 1/3 subsidized affordable housing. The current proposal is less than 1/3 market rate and it seems most of the market rate units will be across the street in the tower overlooking the river instead of integrated with the rest of the development.
Harvard's Nicolas Retsinas and Kent Colton know more than a little about housing policy, and here is what they wrote in "Our Communities, Our Homes", a new book co-authored with former HUD Secretaries Henry Cisneros and Jack Kemp:
"A series of class-action lawsuits starting in the late 1960's launched a national conversation about the failures of a public housing system that isolated poor, predominately African-American families in communities wracked by intergenerational poverty and lawlessness. The lawsuits were fought and won on the argument that economic and racial segregation is bad for families and, when government sponsored, violates their civil rights.
The desire to reduce the concentration of poverty and new federal policies have led authorities nationwide to create new, mixed-income communities and scatter subsidized housing regionwide."
Retsinas and Colton also dedicate a chapter of their book to the importance of housing vouchers as a "springboard for personal and economic advancement". Voucher are certainly not the simplest solution, but a lot of data and expert opinion indicate that, in the words of Retsinas and Colton:
"Improving opportunities for housing voucher holders is tough but important. Many of the approaches outlined here align with bipartisan goals of helping poor families build assets and leave welfare. Mobility and self-sufficiency services demonstrate how housing assistance can be a hand up, rather than simply a handout."
"Height is not necessarily bad, but the design has to be superb to justify it here. The BRA needs to make sure that whatever is built enhances the neighborhood."
"Harvard should seek to make the [Barry's Corner] intersection a venue for town-gown mingling."
- Yes, it should. The master plan published in January did not do this. It moved a bunch of athletic facilities into Barry's Corner, proposed no changes to quiet & private Teele Hall, suggested the office/storage art building next door to Teele, and committed to little more than some "possible retail".
"An enlivened, exciting Barry's Corner will be worth the wait."
- The sooner the better. Allston and Brighton residents have already been waiting a decade to see the life return to our community that has departed since Harvard's buying spree began. Harvard already has total control over most of Barry's Corner and doesn't need to wait until Charlesview has moved to get started.