Supporters of affordable housing in Boston should be alarmed by Mayor Michelle Wu’s rent control proposal. Rebranded as “rent stabilization,” this is the same idea that died historically in Boston and surrounding cities, before it was appropriately buried in the graveyard of failed ideas.
After leading the fight to repeal in 1994, the Small Property Owners Association is ready to lead again, as we expect new building permits to plummet further when the proposal becomes formal.
To alleviate the housing affordability crisis state-wide, we must promote zoning reform and increased production of all types of housing – instead of disrupting the operation of existing buildings.
Approval of new housing units in 2022 was approximately 75 percent below that of 2020 – during a pandemic. These anemic numbers demonstrate that as capital is chased out of Boston, additional punitive policies will further harm the housing provider community.
Sadly, the proponents of rent control insist upon unearthing a long-buried corpse, only to put lipstick on it in the name of “innovation.”
But we can only find innovative solutions when those who provide the housing and keep it affordable are heard and respected. Housing providers are the mayor’s constituents and voters, as well. We pay handsomely through our taxes to fund approximately 70 percent of Boston’s budget.
Rent control leads to displacement and gentrification for tenants, as well as the disrepair and devaluation of property. It also makes it more difficult for owners to collect their hard-earned rental income, in addition to removing noncompliant tenants – to the detriment of cooperative tenants who rely on small landlords, in particular, to provide them with safe, maintained places to live.
The government should promote mutual respect, security, and cooperation between housing providers and tenants, where both parties can prosper, rather than favoring one side over another to the detriment of the community.
It is therefore time, once and for all, to move forward in the spirit of true innovation – and to let dead policies, like rent control, remain buried in the cemetery of failed ideas.
— Amir Shahsavari, vice president, Small Property Owners Association.