Jason Korb: 100% Affordable Housing at Port Landing


The walk from the heart of Central Square to 131 Harvard Street, the home of Port Landing is deceptively short. Although separated by a mere ten minutes the transition into The Port, or Area 4, is sharp. Niche brunch spots, graffiti murals, and glass encased gyms become average brick and mortar buildings. A shiny new playground passes by to my right. A Cambridge Residents Alliance van sits parked along the street. The grinning faces of people of color are displayed on large apartment flyers, encouraging applications.


The sharp demarcation is reflective of larger forces that have resulted in increased development and housing prices in Central Square/Kendall over the past decade or so. Included in these forces are rent deregulation of 1994, the increasing cost of land and an influx of tech companies and their employees. A review can be found in this BuQuad article from 2013.


Another way to describe what we see in Area 4 is gentrification, a term first coined by Sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964. She defines it as the “process of neighborhood change that results in the replacement of lower income residents with higher income ones.” Increasing the amount of affordable housing is one way to combat the displacement associated with gentrification.


Enter: Port Landing. Port Landing is a 20 unit development with 100% affordable housing. While it is an attempt to create space in Cambridge for low and middle-income housing, Port Landing was made possible via a complex history directly intertwined with a Biotech development company.


In order to build an office building on Broadway St. the organization was contracted to donate a large sum of money to the community of The Port and a parcel of land at 131 Harvard St. was deed restricted for community use and returned to the community. Due to an unfortunate series of mismanagement, the land sat empty and unused for years. The land was eventually placed on the market, but the deed restriction meant the land could only be used as affordable housing, a community park, community garden etc. This drastically lowered the cost of the land and presented an opportunity for Jason Korb and his partners at CapStone Communities LLC to build Port Landing.


Port Landing (Before)


Even with the affordable price of land, making Port Landing financially feasible required a complex combination of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTC), investment tax credits, and soft debt. LIHTC specifically are a government incentive for private investment and financing of affordable housing. To some estimates LIHTC support 90% of all affordable housing in the US. Mr. Korb is concerned that these essential tax credits may be on the chopping block for HUDS and the current administration, as they are considered to be entitlements.


According to Mr. Korb rather than discouraging public-private partnerships and investment in affordable and mixed-income housing, we should be encouraging it. Policies like inclusionary zoning [linking the production of affordable housing to market price housing] and density bonuses [allow developers of market rate housing to increase the amount of housing built if affordable housing is included] are important ways to incentivize the creation of more affordable housing.

Korb and his partner at CapStone have invested the same amount of attention to the design of Port Landing as they have to its financing. The building is a beautiful blend of the brick and modern sleek steel. The interior is intentionally designed. A giant wallpaper map of Cambridge greets you as soon as you walk in and portraits of members of the community line every hallway. One community member put it this way:




Korb says he is just happy to provide “homes worthy of the people who live in them.”


131-Harvard-Unit-101-0001 Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 4.53.35 PM

PC: Patrick Rogers Photography

listen to our interview here:

Introducing Rachel Alder, a friend, activist, and organizer.

Created a NYT front page that depicts one of Rachel's dreams of the future

Created a NYT front page that depicts one of Rachel’s dreams of the future

Rachel at WGH's

Rachel at WGH’s Take Action Tuesday

Rachel is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Health at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health. She can be found in the Kresge atrium on any given Tuesday, around 12:30 encouraging faculty, students, and staff to contribute their time, money or phone calls to collective action challenging the current political environment. During these weekly events, which have been dubbed “Take Action Tuesdays” by the Women Gender and Health (WGH) concentration that endorses them, Rachel and others have handed out flyers with talking points, empowering colleagues to communicate with their representatives about the ACA repeal, cabinet appointments and more. They have made valentines and raised money for the Islamic Society of Boston. Thanks for your reminder that creating the world we envision begins when a few people begin to work collectively! Click here to see the scripts and log your own phone calls!


Rachel and I sat down to discuss her current and prior experiences with organized action as well as her vision for the future. A portion of our interview is transcribed below.

Organizing is inherently dependent on relationships and building those takes time and requires a level of commitment to the space and place that you are in.

S: Tell us about some of the work you’ve been a part of

R: Before coming to school here I was in Providence and I helped start up the White Noise Collective, which is trying to mobilize white folks around issues of racial justice. Around the same time, I was doing organizing work with a group called Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE). They will tell you they were before the drug DARE!

S: Ok, because I have some T-shirts!…

R: I know because I have some t-shirts too and I always say the one for equality, not the drug one!

R: But DARE has a couple things they do and one is Behind The Walls which works with formerly incarcerated folks and their family members around issues trying to abolish the prison industrial complex or at least trying to make it more humane while it does exist.  And so we were working on a campaign to increase access to public housing for people with criminal records and I was pretty intensely involved with that for about two years.

R: As an undergrad I was involved in the climate activism, the divestment movement, trying to get my university…Brown, to divest from coal and I’ve done some climate related work. Those are some of the big pushes I’ve ben involved in.

S: I can see some clear correlates between what you’ve done in Providence and what you are doing here in Boston. Can you talk more about that?

R: So since getting to Boston, I have not been regularly a part of groups in the way I was in Providence. And much of that is because of my organizing principles; I guess you could call them. I see organizing as different from activism because organizing is inherently dependent on relationships and building those takes time and requires a level of commitment to space and place that you are in. Since moving to Boston, I wasn’t sure if I could commit in the same way. But, I’ve been involved with the SURJ chapter here (Showing Up for Racial Justice). I go to their large meetings every month and try to do the actions they plug us into.

I tried to help out organize a group of students at the public health school to support the Harvard dining hall workers strike. So that was a brief but intense period of organizing. And more recently have been helping to organize the Take Action Tuesdays as places for folks to come make phone calls write letters to representatives and donate money to grass roots organizations that are protecting civil and human rights. Just that having a consistent space for students who are feeling overwhelmed and saying here is one phone call you can make today. We thought that might be helpful.


More of our conversation can be found on the audio linked, we talk about the 40,000 or so Massachusetts drug charges made based on falsified lab evidence; competing motivations and ego as a grad student and activist, JP ROX!/Keep it 100 for Egelston and MORE—-


The Future

You’re day-to-day shouldn’t make you feel as if you are complicit in all sorts of injustices you don’t want to be a part of.  

S: What does the future that you are working towards for 2040 look like.

R: Meaningful increasing in two things:

1. Meaningful participation of people who don’t actively see themselves as activists. And I think we are seeing that more and more of that now. Honestly, I just want it to look like the 60’s. I mean the numbers we get excited about for protest nowadays are nothing in comparison to the then, just to think of the sheer scale of people who were in motion is amazing. I would want just average everyday folks to feel like organizing, and activism is a regular part of their everyday life and is a large part of what how they gain meaning.

2. The other is an increase in the interconnectivity of people working on different movements. Kimberly Crenshaw said intersectionality how ever many years ago and now it’s almost mainstream! And whether any of us has a grip on the vast black feminist literature that discusses intersectionality is something else. But it says something that there is even a recognition of… The recent identity movements have been incredibly powerful and I think will be more powerful when they are all working together to organize. And that is what I want to see. Because activism is whre you feel committed to people. And if we can support each other’s actions and work together…that is what I am envisioning.


S. What are we working together towards?

R. We are working towards a world where you have guaranteed income, and borders don’t exist and prisons don’t exist. We’ll recognize that there are people who should be treated for mental illness and that the prisons don’t make us safe. They tear families apart. Guns don’t make us safe; police with guns don’t make us safe. Universal health care, getting rid of fossil fuels, free education. I mean, I guess my ideas are pretty radical but…I don’t want to just change the way we do things…You’re day-to-day shouldn’t make you feel as if you are complicit in all sorts of injustices you don’t want to be a part of.  



Shewa Adelekun

Hi everyone!

My name is Shewa. I’m a master’s of public health student with an internet obsession which I’ve tried to validate through academia. My attempt at validation quickly turned into a deep dive into course work research and literature to better understand web 2.0, the internet of things and how we all (especially the youth) engage with technology. My hope is that through this understanding I can work with communities to design better interventions and tools with which to promote adolescent mental health and advocacy.


Last year I spent some time living in Nepal during the blockade. During this time some combination of the Indian government and Madeshi protesters  blocked the India-Nepali border preventing the trade of fuel. This led to a black market trade of fuel and as expected the cost of gas rose exponentially, to the point that petrol for cooking was at times a luxury. This is a video/choreography of a youth dance troupe (Cartoonz Crew) responding to the fuel crisis with hip hop. I love this video because while making a specific political statement the the youth also challenge (even in the face of economic adversity) many of the stereotypes or dominant narratives spread about Nepal and other Low Income Countries.  Through their creativity and amazing production we  also see that youth from “developing” countries ARE tenacious, creative, enterprising, silly, engaged, aware, current, smart and fashion forward. They can be B-boys, and yeah they might hit dat nae nae.