Hey Harvard! Pay Up! The Homeless Need Housing!
Having recently raised $7 BILLION, Harvard University’s endowment is now approaching $40 BILLION! That’s a lot of excess moola for a non profit organization to have on hand (is Harvard a school or a hedge fund?). Despite Harvard’s mind blowing wealth, it has not payed $2.6 million that it owes to Boston through the city’s Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, or PILOT program.
Boston set PILOT up in 2012. It asks the city’s numerous tax exempt, land owning hospitals and colleges (the Meds and Eds), as well as its arts institutions, to voluntarily contribute to pay for city services that they would get tax free. This year, of 19 Eds the city asked to pony up for PILOT, 14 paid far less than the city requested. This despite the fact that, unlike taxable city properties, PILOT program members need only contribute a fraction of the value of their extensive holdings. But cheapskate Harvard and those 14 other schools won’t even do that!
Boston’s colleges and their multitudes of off campus students have contributed to the city’s homelessness problems for decades: the poorest Bostonians have had to compete with them for affordable housing. Last Spring, nine Boston City Councilors strongly endorsed our coalition groups proposal for a $5 million city funded housing voucher program to house 400 homeless Bostonians (at left). In June, we met with Mayor Walsh on the plan. His concern? The city lacks the money. Yet, If Megabucks Harvard paid the $2.6 million it owes this year to the PILOT program that revenue could fund half of the housing voucher program! That is housing for 200 homeless! If all the college scofflaws ponied up the $12 million they owe this year, plus the million still owed by the city’s medical and arts institutions, that could fund vouchers for about a THOUSAND of the city’s homeless!
Boston needs the PILOT program revenue! Its homeless desperately need housing!