Tenant Town Hall—update

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2014— Around 85 residents braved the threat of a nor'easter to attend the Tenant Town Hall in Central Square's Cambridge Senior Center yesterday evening. After opening remarks from Councillor Simmons, legal services attorneys and the co-chairs of ACT spoke briefly. The main event was residents speaking about their own experiences as tenants and their ideas about how to address the current crisis. 

This was an unusual event. First because it was exclusively focused on tenants, and included some paying market rents as well as public housing and voucher residents. Second because although elected and appointed officials were present, they were there to listen rather than to be heard.

Councillor Denise Simmons chaired the meeting, but otherwise only tenants and tenant advocates were recognized to speak. Simmons organized the Tenant Town Hall as chair of the city council’s housing committee. 

Two-thirds of Cambridge households are renters. And the market rent in Cambridge is higher than ever. Rent is a critical issue for most tenants, whether or not we have subsidized housing.

Coincidentally another major hearing on housing took place on Monday—the day before—at Boston City Hall. The public hearing on October 20 heard extensive testimony about displacement and corporate landlords in that city. Later hearings are planned to discuss what to do about these issues.