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Grove Parc tenants respond

The Grove Parc Tenants Association has issued a response to a June 27 Boston Globe article on presidential candidate Barack Obama’s housing policies.

The article casts Grove Parc as a “symbol of the broader failure of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing — an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing”; and as one of a number of affordable housing “failures…developed and managed by Obama’s closest friends and political supporters.”

The 504-unit development was acquired from HUD by the Woodlawn Preservation and Investment Corp. in 1999, and fell into serious disrepair under management by the Habitat Co., headed by close Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett.

But, as the Globe article fails to note, in January — following months of organizing culminating in a sit-in by tenants at the local HUD office — foreclosure on the property was halted, and a new tenant-selected nonprofit management company took over the development.

From the GPTA statement:

“The Globe article, while rightly raising concerns about the failure of the private sector to adequately provide for the housing needs of the poor, unfortunately leaves out half of the story.

“Grove Parc is not just an example of the failures of past policies, but a beacon of hope for the way forward. Tenants have not only stopped foreclosure and the displacement of some 500 low income families, but also brought in new management committed to working with the tenants to rebuild affordable and quality housing for all residents.

“In so doing, we have highlighted two fundamental principles that both presidential candidates would do well to heed as they finalize their housing policy platforms — first, the full participation of tenants, who have the biggest stake in housing policy, and second, the guarantee of quality housing for all as a human right and social responsibility.

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