BOSTON (WHDH) - Boston city councilors responded on Wednesday to a plan from Mayor Michelle Wu that aims to bring rent control back to the city.
Wu announced her plan on Monday, setting out a framework to cap rent increases in a given year.
The City Council began considering Wu’s proposal when it met on Wednesday, sending the matter to committee.
With Boston being one of the county’s most expensive places to find a place to rent, many on the City Council say rent control makes sense.
“We are in the middle of a housing crisis,” Councilor Kendra Lara told reporters. “It is really a moment where, if we do not take action, we’re going to lose what makes our city what it is.”
Boston, Brookline and Cambridge had rent control measures in the past before Massachusetts residents statewide voted down rent control almost 30 years ago.
Where some on the Boston City Council support new rent control measures, some on the council disagree.
“This totally knocks all the small landlords right out of it,” Councilor Frank Baker said. “We’ve been through rent control. It’s a failed position.”
Wu’s proposal would cap annual rent increases at six percent plus inflation, with a total maximum of 10 percent.Newly constructed housing would be exempted for 15 years to keep new housing strong. Small owner occupied buildings with six units or less would also be exempted to avoid burdening small mom and pop landlords.
City Life Co-Executive Director Mike Leyba said Boston needs policies similar to ones in places in other cities and states. Such policies, Leyba said, protect renters and create “some level of stability so that people can continue to go to school here, to raise their family here.”
Some landlords, though, say that beyond unfairness to them, well intentioned measures like the current proposal in Boston end up making less housing available for people who need it.
“What we saw in Cambridge when we had rent control for 20 years was that a lot of folks who deserved rent control or some kind of rental assistance couldn’t get access to these apartments,” MassLandlords Executive Director Doug Quattrochi said.
Wu’s proposal will need approval from the Boston City Council. If approved, the measure would then go to Beacon Hill where it would need approval from Gov. Maura Healey and the state legislature.
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