Late last month, members of the Boston City Council chose once again to vilify the people who are working to build and maintain housing for the many Boston residents who need it.
The Boston Herald reported that City Councilors Liz Breadon and Ruthzee Louijeune introduced legislation to create a “scofflaw property owner list in an effort to rein in misbehaving landlords.”
While the proposal may sound good on the surface, it perpetuates a harmful narrative, amplified by Mayor Michelle Wu’s rent control proposal, that the owners and managers of multi-family residential properties in Boston are greedy, negligent, and unscrupulous.
That narrative simply is not true. I work for a Boston-based management company that provides good housing for approximately 1,500 people. It contributes to the local economy through taxes, employs 50 Massachusetts residents and does charitable work with organizations like the Pine Street Inn. We’re no different than your local hardware store. Yet the mom-and-pop shop is viewed as the good guy while the mom-and-pop property owner is portrayed as the bad guy.
I share all of this not in an attempt to portray a perfect company but to convey the idea that my employer is as valuable to the local ecosystem as other local businesses. Strong laws already exist to protect tenants from negligent landlords and in 2011 the city even created the Problem Properties Task Force to address poor quality housing. If the Boston City Council wants to make the city work better for tenants, it should work with developers to enact policies that will lead to the creation of more housing for the people who so desperately need a good place to live.
— Ben Levenson is director of operations at The Copley Group, a Boston-based real estate development and property management company.