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Institute should donate property to CASPAR shelter

A new semester has begun, and the Albany Street shelter is still looking for a permanent home. We would like to remind the MIT administration that the MIT community cares about the shelter and what becomes of it.

Last semester, approximately 1000 signatures, representing students, faculty and staff were gathered on a petition asking MIT to donate the property at 240 Albany St. to the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism Rehabilitation, the organization which runs the Emergency Service Center.

The Graduate Student Council passed a resolution supporting the donation of the land, and the Undergraduate Association passed a resolution asking that MIT grant a lease of not less than 40 years to CASPAR.

In addition, over 250 pounds of clothing were collected for the shelter in a clothing drive during December and January. Clearly, the community has shown strong support for the shelter.

Our relationship with CASPAR began twelve years ago. In January 1979, after years of looking for a site, CASPAR negotiated a lease for a property at Main Street and Windsor Street.

Within the month, MIT bought this same property and offered CASPAR the Albany Street site. The MIT administration claims to have had no knowledge of CASPAR's original plans to build a shelter on this property. A terrible accident or not, MIT's purchase deprived the Emergency Service Center of a permanent home. MIT now has a commitment to fulfill.

With a large fraction of Institute funding coming from taxpayer money administered by federal agencies, MIT has a responsibility to use some of these resources to benefit our own community.

From the start, we have been told that the property at 240 Albany St. is under the control of the MIT Corporation, and that giving up the property does not make sense from a corporate point of view.

But what is the role of the Corporation but to serve the interests of the MIT community? And how can the MIT Corporation justify ignoring the needs of the Albany Street shelter when such a large portion of the MIT community has shown support?

MIT has sometimes argued that its mission is solely education and research. However, these goals are empty without application to societal needs. The MIT administration has consistently said that it has done enough to help the shelter. We disagree.

In the face of such a widespread support for the Albany Street shelter, the best solution is to grant the Albany Street property to CASPAR. We who support the shelter are not asking MIT to be a shelter operator; we are asking MIT to give one shelter a place to stay.

Ajay Advani '91->

Corrie Lathan G->

Christopher Stipp G->

The MIT Homelessness Initiative->