On Tuesday, the Brockton Democrat testified in favor of a bill that would lift the statewide ban on rent control, enabling municipalities to decide for themselves whether the controversial policy is right for them.
2020欧洲杯APP下载BROCKTON — This week, state Rep. Michelle DuBois became the first Brockton legislator to publicly support lifting the statewide ban on rent control, a controversial policy tool stripped from municipalities by a 1994 ballot measure that was approved by a narrow majority of Massachusetts voters.
2020欧洲杯APP下载DuBois, a Brockton Democrat and former city councilor elected to state office in 2014, testified on Tuesday at a legislative hearing that saw hundreds of rent control’s fiercest supporters outnumber a handful of critics on Beacon Hill.
The bill DuBois spoke in support of, filed by Rep. David Rogers, a Cambridge Democrat, would empower municipalities to limit annual rent increases to 5 percent or the change in the Consumer Price Index for that area — whichever is lower — through a vote of the municipality's governing body or a local ballot question.We can deliver news just like this directly to your inbox. You can sign up for This Just In (a daily 7:30 p.m. newsletter with items we've posted that day), News Alerts (so you don't miss anything important) and more. It's customized to your preferences -- and it'll only take a few seconds.
Rogers’ bill isn’t the only piece of legislation filed this session that seeks to restore Massachusetts’ cities and towns with the power to cap rents. Reps. Mike Connolly, a Cambridge Democrat, and Nika Elugardo, a Boston Democrat, have proposed similar legislation that would unlock options for other tenant protections as well.
2020欧洲杯APP下载The fate of both bills rests in the hands of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing, chaired by Democrats from Boston and Lynn, who could call for a vote on the bills, kill them or scrap the proposed laws for parts that could be reintroduced as part of an omnibus housing bill, which legislators have discussed as a way to deliver a broad suite of housing reforms at once.
The push for new rent control options is spearheaded by legislators and activists from Boston and Cambridge, though proponents say lawmakers from across the state have signed on as co-sponsors. The rallying cry echoes similar movements in California and Oregon, where state legislatures last year placed strict limits on rent increases in most cities in an historic year for housing legislation.
2020欧洲杯APP下载On Tuesday at the State House, supporters of rent control filled several 230-seat hearing rooms to capacity, according to the State House News Service. Mayors from Somerville and Lawrence testified in support of lifting the ban on rent control, as did several Boston city councilors.
2020欧洲杯APP下载DuBois was the only Brockton lawmaker to testify. The city’s political establishment has by and large stayed tight-lipped about rent control, which critics say could have a cooling effect on downtown Brockton’s long-promised renaissance. Sen. Mike Brady and Reps. Gerard Cassidy and Claire Cronin, all Democrats, did not respond to requests for comment.
Though a single-bedroom apartment in Brockton costs less than half of its Boston equivalent, according to the real estate information firm Zumper, DuBois said the city is experiencing its own version of the regional housing crisis.
Nearly half of renters in the Greater Boston area are considered “cost burdened” by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, meaning they pay more than 30 percent of their income in rent. One in four Boston area renters pays a majority of their income on housing costs, according to the same study, which uses 2017 data.
2020欧洲杯APP下载The share of cost-burdened renters is even higher in Brockton, according to a statewide analysis by the Institute for Community Health.
2020欧洲杯APP下载In her testimony on Tuesday, DuBois said investors are purchasing rental properties in Brockton and quickly doubling or tripling the monthly rents owed by tenants, a form of profiteering she believes affects the elderly most severely.
2020欧洲杯APP下载“Senior citizens are the fastest growing segment of Brockton’s newly homeless population,” DuBois said. “This has been confirmed for me by both the executive directors of Brockton’s housing authority and Father Bill’s and Main Spring House Homeless Shelter.”
2020欧洲杯APP下载A steady flow of new residents fleeing Boston’s soaring housing costs has added to Brockton’s housing crunch, DuBois said, as have the city’s struggles to enforce its own sanitary codes — a form of negligence she believes is cutting into the supply of apartments for low- and middle-income families.
DuBois cited The Enterprise’s reporting on a suburban selectman’s squalid investment property as an example of what she called “a widespread problem that has left thousands of rental units in Brockton far below acceptable living standards and uninhabitable for anyone not in desperation.”
2020欧洲杯APP下载“These landlords have not been held accountable by the city’s Board of Health through an ordinance created just for this purpose — the city’s Certificate of Fitness Ordinance,” DuBois said.
DuBois concluded her testimony with suggestions for how to narrow Rogers’ proposed rent control legislation, if the housing committee is not ready to support it as is.
She said the bill could be amended so that the rent control option extended to municipalities would only apply to properties for five years after a sale. Dubois also proposed narrowing the bill so it only restricts rent increases for tenants over the age of 60.
2020欧洲杯APP下载Staff writer Ben Berke can be reached at email@example.com