Almost time to get out the balloons

As neighbors in Allston and Brighton have suggested that more housing should be developed on more of Harvard's blighted property, Harvard has replied the "economy" just isn't strong enough. So it is encouraging that respected economists, including one of Harvard's top housing experts, are finding significant improvement in the Greater Boston housing market.

Reports suggest Mass. home buyers overcoming qualms - The Boston Globe

“This could be the beginning of the end’’ of the slump, said Nicolas Retsinas, director of Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies. “It’s not quite the ninth inning - it’s the eighth inning. We’re close but not quite ready to get out the balloons.’’

While at the Joint Center for Housing Studies website I noticed a new report, "America's Rental Housing: The Key to a Balanced National Policy" by Harvard's real estate researchers. They write:

"The clustering of lowest-income and assisted renter households imposes a host of social and economic disadvantages on these groups. Among other impacts, these settlement patterns reinforce the spatial isolation of the poor, foster racial segregation, discourage investment in lower-income communities, and contribute to higher rates of crime, teen pregnancy, and school dropouts."

But Charlesview and the BRA continue to seem dearly attached to the idea of clustering low income apartments in a new Charlesview. Go figure.


  1. I'm repeatedly surprised that this blog implicitly assumes "Harvard" should have a single opinion on some matters. By design, it's not like a corporation where the CEO gets to decide what everyone is doing. Instead, individual researchers can and do publish their own opinions, often disagreeing with each other, and Harvard's management is yet another entity (though, being more like a corporation, Harvard's management sometimes has a single "official" opinion.)

    Thus, it doesn't surprise me at all that some researchers publish results that something should work one way, and Harvard's management organization does something counter to it. If it was well-known, after all, it wouldn't be research, and it takes a while for research results to be thoroughly validated.

  2. I don't understand what surprises you. I'm not suggesting that Faust is going to "decide what everyone is doing". Where did you get that from?

    What I do think is that Harvard's actions in Allston should be consistent with the best thinking (at Harvard and elsewhere) in relevant fields of study.

    Certainly in some fields (like scientific research) there are many researchers at Harvard (and all over the world) trying to find answers about how the natural world works. Of course "Harvard" shouldn't have a single opinion about what causes cancer or how the universe was formed. Such a single opinion would be in direct conflict with the idea of a research university.

    But there really isn't much of any controversy among experts about whether or not it is bad to cluster low-income households. This fact is quite well-known, broadly published for many years, and has been fully validated.

    In economics, there is often a wider diversity of opinions and ideas, and what I thought was interesting about this story is that it quotes several leading economists from Harvard and elsewhere suggesting an emerging consensus about an improving housing market. And if the housing market really is improving, then the main objection that Harvard's Allston Development Group offered to delay housing construction on blighted Harvard property is longer seems relevant.