Dozens gather in Boston to support rent control bill

BOSTON — Dozens of people gathered outside the State House Saturday in support of a new bill that would allow cities and towns to stabilize rents.

The rally was sponsored by Homes for All Mass and Right to the City Boston.

The bills (HD 3953 / SD 1818) were filed last week by State Representatives Dave Rogers and Samantha Montaño as well as State Senator Pat Jehlen.

The proposal would introduce a clearer framework for municipal rent control which would put a stronger limit on rent increases.

The bill would give municipalities the option to adopt a policy that would tie rent increases to the inflation rate with a maximum increase of 5% per year. Supporters said this would protect tenants from rapidly rising inflation and would promote long-term affordability within the housing market.

The bill also prohibits no-fault evictions and provides exemptions for small landlords, which are defined as owner-occupied buildings with less than five units.

“I was just sitting at home and worrying about, ‘how am I going to pay my rent? How am I going to pay for food? How am I going to pay my bills,” said Betty Lewis, of Mattapan. “The rents are too darn high.

According to rally organizers, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Massachusetts has increased by 55% since 2010.

“In our experience, an annual rent increase of 3% is a compromise between what the developer wants and what the tenants can afford to pay,” said CLVU Co-Executive Director Denise Matthews-Turner.

According to rally organizers, housing justice advocates have been fighting to bring rent control back to MA since it was banned in 1994, which they say has caused rents and housing costs to spiral out of reach for working families and especially for people of color and single-parent households.

“Rent control is one tool we desperately need right now, in addition to investing in more truly affordable housing and several other tools to protect renters, small owners, and future homeowners – but rent control is a must,” said Mimi Ramos of New England United for Justice.

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