Preserving affordable housing

first_imgTwenty-five affordable apartments in Harvard Square’s Craigie Arms Apartments will remain affordable for at least 50 additional years after the city of Cambridge, Harvard University, and the nonprofit Homeowners Rehab Inc. (HRI) put together a creative plan to preserve the affordability of these units through HRI’s purchase of the 50-unit Craigie Arms building.Affordability restrictions on the 25 affordable units were scheduled to expire in 2016.  With the property for sale, these units were an attractive investment to buyers interested in reaping the financial benefits of converting these units to market-rate housing after the existing restrictions expired.Working together, the city, Harvard, and HRI were able to orchestrate HRI’s purchase of the building to ensure affordability of the 25 units for a minimum of 50 years.  Specifically, Harvard amended and extended its ground lease on the property in a manner that allowed HRI to secure the necessary financing from the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust and the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC).  HRI purchased the building in a preservation transaction that was finalized on Dec. 19.“We are celebrating today because a creative partnership has allowed us to preserve an important housing resource in Harvard Square which will benefit current and future tenants of these units. This is a huge win in today’s Harvard Square housing market, where maintaining affordability is very difficult,” said Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy, who is also the managing trustee of the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust and has worked to strengthen affordable housing during his 30-year tenure with the city.“Preserving Craigie Arms was a priority for the city and could not have happened without the commitment of Harvard and is just the latest example of Harvard partnering with the city to achieve shared community goals,” added Assistant City Manager for Community Development Brian Murphy.Craigie Arms was owned by a multipartner entity that was led by Bob Kuehn, an affordable-housing developer.  Following Kuehn’s death, ownership of the property was left to 30 different investors who recently offered the property for sale.  HRI was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development under the recently enacted expiring use preservation statute, known as Chapter 40T, which gives public agencies and affordable housing providers the time necessary to put together plans to preserve affordable housing before it can be sold to market buyers.  With this time, the city, Harvard, and HRI put together the plan to preserve these units, and, after a competitive bidding process, the owners elected to sell property to HRI.“All of this would not be possible without the city of Cambridge’s partnership and Harvard’s involvement,” said Peter Daly of HRI.  “By working together we have preserved the homes of 25 individuals and families of low and moderate incomes at Craigie Arms.”The city and Harvard have a long history of supporting affordable housing and a record of success in preserving and maintaining housing of all types for people of all incomes. An example of this success includes Harvard’s 20/20/2000 program, a $20 million, 20-year low-interest revolving loan program that has helped build and renovate 465 units in Cambridge.  Harvard also created affordable units for working families during the development of housing for students in Riverside, and has sold more than 100 housing units at reduced prices to the city of Cambridge for use as affordable housing.  In all, Harvard has helped to create and preserve over 600 units of affordable housing in Cambridge in recent years.“Creating and maintaining affordable housing units can support the economic well-being and diversity of the communities around us. The support of affordable housing in Cambridge has been a long-term public policy goal for the city of Cambridge, and we’re pleased to be a partner with the city on this and other efforts to achieve that goal,” said Christine Heenan, vice president of Harvard Public Affairs and Communications.last_img read more

City Harvest: another life for London’s waste food

first_imgGallery: City Harvest LondonCity Harvest1 of 4City Harvest 1> Though the charity relies on help from volunteers (with the likes of Harvey Nichols routinely sending its staff to help sort surplus) it does pay its drivers to ensure it can meet demand from storesCity Harvest 3> Over Christmas 75% of food donated was fresh fruit & vegThe charity now works with nearly ever major supermarket, as well as corporate canteens, film studios and event venuesCity Harvest 2> Capacity has doubled in the past year with seven City Harvest vans now visiting stores and charities from its West London HQCity Harvest 5> Since 2014 it has collected 735 tonnes for redistribution1234 Though the charity relies on help from volunteers (with the likes of Harvey Nichols routinely sending its staff to help sort surplus) it does pay its drivers to ensure it can meet demand from stores Over Christmas 75% of food donated was fresh fruit & vegThe charity now works with nearly ever major supermarket, as well as corporate canteens, film studios and event venues Capacity has doubled in the past year with seven City Harvest vans now visiting stores and charities from its West London HQ Since 2014 it has collected 735 tonnes for redistribution City HarvestThough the charity relies on help from volunteers (with the likes of Harvey Nichols routinely sending its staff to help sort surplus) it does pay its drivers to ensure it can meet demand from storesoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMheight 460width 620orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop CC (Over Christmas 75% of food donated was fresh fruit & vegThe charity now works with nearly ever major supermarket, as well as corporate canteens, film studios and event venuesoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMheight 460width 620orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop CC (Capacity has doubled in the past year with seven City Harvest vans now visiting stores and charities from its West London HQoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMheight 460width 620orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop CC (Since 2014 it has collected 735 tonnes for redistributionoriginaldate 1/1/0001 6:00:00 AMheight 460width 620orientation 1camerasoftware Adobe Photoshop CC ( We want food to be eaten – not end up in the bin. Join our campaign and help us lobby government to take action on food waste: Pledge your support here City Harvest works the capital’s ‘last mile’, passing food from supermarkets and events to charities that need itWe’d get five times that from one of the large supermarkets.” Laura Winningham, CEO of charity City Harvest, is pointing to a trolley overflowing with artisan rolls, gourmet carrot cakes, pastries and fresh veg being wheeled toward us at the Whole Foods Market flagship store on Kensington High Street. Bags full of posh focaccia so heavy we can hardly lift them are passed to driver Jason as he packs crates into a van already loaded with chicken from Nando’s, snacks from Graze and sandwiches from a Tesco Express. We’re halfway through a daily run for the charity, which rescues wasted food from London stores and drops it off at nearby charities or non-profits, passing through Fulham, Hammersmith and Kensington via five grocers, three hostels and two soup kitchens. To date the team has redistributed 735 tonnes this way, enough to create 1.7 million meals for vulnerable people. In the past 12 months they’ve more than doubled capacity too, with seven vans now travelling across London each day and a new depot opening in April 2017 to store an increasing volume of surplus food. Winningham co-founded the charity with her husband and two friends four years ago, inspired by the US-based City Harvest she’d watched driving 18-wheelers in her native New York, picking up 50 tonnes-plus of surplus each day. “I figured London can’t be that different in its need for this type of thing,” she says. “So I just did it, knowing nothing about food, or vans or really anything. But it’s surprising what you can learn.” From “going around and popping their head in” a few local stores with one loaned van, City Harvest now works with almost every major supermarket chain in the city, as well as picking up leftovers from corporate canteens, events held at the likes of Olympia, film sets and defunct brands. Unlike FareShare, which has huge volumes of surplus delivered from distribution depots and manufacturers, City Harvest focuses on that “last mile” between the store and charity, working with FareShare to ensure surplus is picked up from many smaller stores signed up to Tesco’s Food Cloud system. And it’s put to good use. Every morsel collected by City Harvest’s drivers (all of whom are paid) is either handed direct to charities, stored in its new Acton depot or, in the tiny number of cases where it goes out of date, handed to a Shropshire farmer for pigfeed. “It really does help us,” says Michael Angus, manager for the Barons Court Project, a day centre for homeless and mentally ill people, as we hand over bread and vegetables for its Hammersmith kitchen. “I reckon we’ve saved on average £2k-3k per year through the donations we get. For us that’s a significant amount.”Ten minutes away, chef Andrew Calvocoressi is whipping up turkey hotpot, pork meatballs and egg drop soup – all made with the donated surplus food – at homeless charity The Upper Room. “I use everything,” he says. “I’ve been cooking for 40 years and I don’t think I’ve ever cooked so well because the produce is so good, and that’s half the battle.” But for Winningham there is still so much more surplus to access. “It’s funny. When we started we thought we’d have unlimited food and we wouldn’t have enough people to bring it to. Now we need more food.” As well as flicking through The Grocer each week to find new London startups with surplus to spare, Winningham believes building awareness even further among food companies will be crucial to securing more food. That means smoothing out the grass-roots process of picking up surplus. Too often staff turnover means relationships between drivers and store staff are lost (and with it a load of available surplus) while a lack of clear process mean drivers are sometimes presented with rubbish bags stuffed with unsorted surplus and rubbish. “Redistribution has to be part of the smooth operation of the store,” says Winningham. “Once it becomes the fabric of the business it’ll run as smoothly as the business. The CEO needs to set a process and evaluate cost, time and sustainability.” It’s all still a steep learning curve, she admits. “We’re four years in but that’s still a very young organisation.” One with plenty more scope to grow. “As long as there is demand we should grow until all those people have as much food as they need.” And with that, we’re on to our next drop-off.Sign our petitionlast_img read more

US$30K Heroin Makes a ‘No-Show’ in Court

first_imgThe packed courtroom of Criminal Court ‘C’ at the Temple of Justice was a scene of disbelief and shock when government lawyers failed to give account of 1.2 kilogram of heroin valued at US$30,000, allegedly arrested from a 24-year-old Ugandan woman, Shirat Nelwadda.Prosecution had indicted her with multiple crimes including unlawful possession, trafficking, and distribution of a narcotic drug.She, however, denied all of the charges read to her in open court by the clerk of court.At the hearing on Tuesday, March 25, while the Court remained seated and silent, Judge Blamo Dixon asked the government lawyers where the heroin, the fruit of the crime (foc) could be found, as it was not in Court where it belonged.  The Prosecution responded:  “The heroin is with the court and we will soon bring it.”That statement elicited this reaction from Judge Dixon: “Tell the people that the drugs are not with this Court.”State prosecutor and judge did not name the court in possession of the 1.2 kilogram of narcotic drugs.Legal experts, however, suggested to the Daily Observer that the drugs were at the Monrovia City Court, which had heard the matter before the defendant had been indicted by the Montserrado County Grand Jury.Before Judge Dixon’s request for the fruit of the crime, prosecution had earlier presented pieces of evidence to the court, leaving behind the 1.2 kilogram of heroin, which was at the center of the trial.The prosecution’s first witness, Special Agent Albert Hare of the Drug Enforcement Agency, (DEA) was also on the stand testifying in the matter.Hare is believed to be the DEA officer who investigated defendant Nelwadda when she was charged.Testifying under cross examination, when asked who had arrested Defendant Nelwadda, Hare responded, “It was officers of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Roberts International Airport’s (RIA) security assigned at the Airport that did the arrest. We were not at the RIA when she was arrested and it is not the DEA that carried out the arrest. It was done by joint security assigned at the Airport including the NSA and RIA. We only came into the picture when she was turned over to us by the NSA. You know we are an agency of government, responsible to investigate drug-related cases. That was why they placed her in our custody,” Hare explained about his agency’s involvement.”That means you never arrested the defendant?” Judge Dixon asked. Hare replied: “Yes, we did not arrest the suspect.”Asked whether the defendant was investigated by the NSA, Hare again responded: “No, NSA did not conduct any investigation.”Also, testifying on the direct, Agent Hare alleged Nelwadda was charged following a preliminary investigation and a laboratory test done on the drugs, by the DEA.Surprisingly, when he was asked by defense counsel whether Nelwadda had a lawyer when she was investigated according to the law, Hare replied: “We accorded the defendant all of her legal rights under the law, including her right to a lawyer and the right to remain silent else any statement made would be used against her in a Court of competent jurisdiction. She agreed, and that was how we went ahead with the investigation.”The case continues.  However, details of the document that brought Nelwadda under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court — a copy of which is in the possession of this paper— said, on November 30, 2013 she was arrested with 1.2 kilogram of heroin valued at US$30,000 by joint security assigned at the RIA.The document further quoted police as saying: “the drugs were in a black suitcase that she was traveling with.”It continued: “During the investigation, the defendant said she was traveling to Liberia for the first time to meet a “boyfriend” called Ekina, whom she does not know. She had also been told she would be met by Nalutarya Laila, her girlfriend in Zama, Kampala, the capital of Uganda.”The document further alleged that “upon her arrival at RIA and subsequent arrest with the drugs, defendant Nelwadda could neither give the contact address or telephone number of the so-called boyfriend she claimed is the owner of the drugs she was carrying.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more