Central House YMCA


by Hasson Rashid 

Monday December 12

On Friday December 9th 2011, this NeighborMedia reporter attended the “Central House Annual Resident Holiday Dinner,” from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Central House is the residents wing of the Cambridge YMCA. The dinner was sponsored by Bertucci's. Everyone affiliated with the YMCA was invited to come out, and enjoy Christmas dinner together, at the Cambridge Senior center Hall, 806 Massachusetts Avenue. This event was hosted by the management staff of central House, Ms. Toni LaRosa (Resident Manager), and Maria Quella ( Resident Service Personnel). It was quite an occasion of needed relief for residents who are currently being relocated, due to repairs and renovation of Central House.

820 SRO LLC, has used bond proceeds to purchase and renovate a 128-unit single-room occupancy facility on the upper floors of the Cambridge YMCA. Caritas Communities Inc. is sponsoring and managing the project, called Central House. The Cambridge Family YMCA is a partner in this venture. Improvements include life safety, elevator, and bathroom upgrades; new windows, flooring, and lighting; and masonry work.

Eighteen of the 128 units are for men who need only housing, while the remaining 110 units combine housing with social services. The facility serves low-income men who have a history of homelessness, chronic mental illness, substance abuse, or HIV/AIDS.

MassDevelopment and the Department of Housing and Community Development also approved an allocation of low-income housing tax credits, which generated about $2.8 million in equity. Boston Private Bank purchased the bond; Brookline Bank and Cambridge Savings Bank purchased the tax credit equity. Additional funding came from the City of Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Trust Fund, and the Department of Housing and Community Development’s HOME and HSF programs. 

The evening’s activities were highlighted by a gourmet meal of pastas and meatballs. The night ended with the drawing of raffle tickets. The event was filled with many memorable moments, such as it’s ending, with the hostesses (Toni and Maria) wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Years and a Goodnight.




Comment on Central House Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

by Hasson J Rashid  August 2012

Peace Be Unto You,

Before I began my comment, I would like to congratulate the CCTV production crew(s)and technicians responsible for the “Central House Ribbon Cutting Ceremony” video, on a job well done. As the video demonstrates, it was the ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the completion of repairs and rehabilitation to approximately 128 federally subsidized Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Units at Central House, the resident wing of the Cambridge YMCA. Caritas Communities Inc. The prime mover of the repairs and rehabilitation project, via its established 820 SRO LCC nonprofit management group, had formed a partnership with the Cambridge YMCA, and others, to use government tax credits, etc., to eventually finance the venture. The ribbon cutting ceremony featured presentations by Alice Wolf, Denise Simmons, Marjorie Decker, Brian Murphy, Gregory Russ, Aaron Gornstein, Anthony Fracasso, Thomas Gleason, Joseph Flatley, Peter Hollands. The presenters were politicians, bankers, developers, a housing authority CEO, and others from the shareholders/stakeholders conglomeration that were somehow directly related to the project getting off the ground.

During the earlier phase of the development, after the low income SRO residents at Central House were inconveniently informed of the ensuing, or oncoming development, repair, and rehabilitation work, to be performed by the new ownership/management partnership, I made numerous attempts to inform and remind Caritas of the importance of Tenant/Resident Participation and Inclusion Rights, and how I felt that from day one of the planning, those affected by the proposed innovations to their domestic arrangements and lives at Central House should have a seat at table with those who were influencing and shaping their future. With this project, the SRO low income tenant/residents rights were being violated from day one. Government legal mandates were being violated when it came to SRO tenants inclusion in ownership/management decisions at Central House, repeatedly by the new ownership partnership consortium, in which several representatives gave presentation at the ribbon cutting ceremony. I even went on record filing numerous complaints at the office of Rep. Alice Wolf, who by the way was invited to present at the ribbon cutting ceremony, and share in the credit for the completion of the project. She didn't do a thing about the violations of SRO participation and inclusion rights.

The ribbon cutting ceremony represented further evidence pertaining to how SRO low income Central House Residents, participation and citizen inclusion rights were again violated and circumvented by the new owner partnership planners, by failing to invite SRO presenters to participate at the ribbon cutting ceremony, or members from the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT) who worked with the Central House residents to organize a tenant council. There is no excuse for the owner partnership negligence in continuously denying the rights of Central House SRO population, who are legally entitled to a seat at the table. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against the work that was rendered, because God is my witness that the resident section of the YMCA, was overdue for repairs.

You would think that Councilwoman Marjorie Decker would have stood up in support of the SRO population, after making a show of support earlier in the year, by sponsoring several public forums that indirectly related to SRO tenants rights, but instead she was there patting the owner partnership consortium on the back, and at the same time stabbing the low income tenants at Central House in the back.

Therefore, I declared and initiated a write-in campaign for public office with the theme "The Pen Is Mightier Than The Sword." As a write-in candidate, I'm joining the election race for state legislator of the 25th Middlesex District in Cambridge. The job isn't too big for me, and I don't thank I can do any worse than those that have preceded me in this office. I will definitely make it a priority to work for and towards, stronger protection rights for low income tenants and human service consumers. All you have to do is write me in, come November 2012. Thank you for reading my comment.