Monday, June 24, 2024

We write in strong support for the bill introduced by state Reps. Michael Connolly and Nika Elugardo to lift the statewide prohibition on rent control and rent stabilization. As we enter yet another year of the pandemic, rising rents and rampant gentrification are forcing more working-class and low- and moderate-income people out of their long-term neighborhoods. This displacement is felt most acutely by Black and brown families who have been subjected to systemic racism across all areas of the housing market.

Of course, only investment in new affordable housing, particularly social housing, can provide a long-term solution to this crisis. But it will take many years to build all the social housing needed. We believe that ending the ban on rent control now can immediately help to stem the tide of rapid displacement.

The bill does not mandate rent control or rent stabilization; it merely enables municipalities to enact such ordinances if they wish to employ these crucial aids to housing security. The fact that the bill would allow each city and town to address the crisis in a locale-specific manner makes it particularly attractive. Further, it exempts owner-occupied buildings with only one to three units. We believe the bill provides an important opportunity for Cambridge, which has among the highest rental prices in the nation.

There is ample evidence that rent control or stabilization does provide short- and medium-term solutions to a rental crisis. It gives people the security they need while creating time for legislators to create the housing that is the only long-term solution.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts legislative Joint Committee on Housing will hold hearings on this and related bills. It is time for the majority of the legislators, who are members of the Democratic Party, to remember that its 2021 platform calls for “ending the statewide ban on rent control and giving municipalities the ability to pass their own laws to stabilize rents, protect the rights of tenants, provide tenants the opportunity to purchase their building when it is being sold and raise sustainable funds to promote housing that is affordable and encourage homeownership.”

This is the time; this bill is the opportunity. The Legislature should do the right thing

Henry H. Wortis, Rich Levy, Carolyn Magid, Louise Parker and Gwen Volmer on behalf of Our Revolution Cambridge