Local backing for tenant protections

TUESDAY, JUNE 30—The Cambridge City Council voted a policy order last night in support of a broad tenant protection bill filed by Reps Mike Connolly and Nika Elugardo. The vote was 8-1 in favor. This was one of two pro-rent control bills reported out of committee favorably two weeks ago. A yes vote had been urged by an unusual coalition of four housing-oriented local organizations, including ACT.

The organizations addressed the city council with the following joint statement:

We are representatives of Cambridge based activist groups that are concerned about the growing housing crisis within our city. We urge you to vote in favor of PO 6 (POR 2020 #160) which would put the Cambridge City Council on record in support of Massachusetts House Bill H.3924 [1]. This bill is an enabling act that would allow local municipalities home rule over tenant protection regulations. We believe this bill is extremely timely and will provide the City the freedom to consider how it can best help the growing number of Cambridge residents facing displacement and homelessness. It is therefore crucial that the Cambridge Council stand in support of the bill and lobby our legislative representatives and State House leadership to vote in favor of it.

As you are aware, Cambridge and other cities in the region are facing a severe housing crisis. Of the 100 most populous metropolitan areas in the nation, the Boston area is the third most expensive, surpassed only by San Francisco and New York. And Cambridge rental prices are even higher than Boston [2]. Consequently, the Boston area in general, and Cambridge in particular, face growing displacement and homelessness. With increased unemployment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the housing crisis has grown more dire. It is therefore urgent that the Commonwealth allows cities home rule on tenant protections so that each municipality can evaluate all possible remedies and enact those that best suit local conditions and needs.

H.3924 would allow municipalities to evaluate and enact a wide range of tenant protections including eviction and rent regulation, tenant deposit and fee protections, foreclosure protections, and creation of anti-displacement zones. It is important to note that the bill does not require any municipality to adopt any particular protection. Rather, the bill simply makes it possible for cities to decide for themselves what protections to enact. We urge the city council to vote Yes on PO 6 (POR 2020 #160) and encourage all our State Representatives not only to vote for H.3924 but to lobby their colleagues to do the same. We believe this to be an essential part of solving the ever-growing housing crisis.

Sincerely,

Members of A Better Cambridge (ABC) Steering Committee

William McAvinney, 12 Douglass St., Cambridge

Burhan Azeem, 35 Speridakis Terrace, Cambridge

Alexandra Markiewicz, 14 Neponset Court, Boston

Allan Sadun, 17 Pleasant Place, Cambridge

Becca Schofield, 77 Harriet St, Boston

Carolyn Fuller, 12 Douglass St, Cambridge

Esther Hanig, 136 Pine St., #2, Cambridge

David Sullivan, 16 Notre Dame Ave. Cambridge

Lawrence Bluestone, 18 Centre St. Cambridge

Members of the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants Executive Committee for the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants Board

Cheryl Patterson-Munroe, 6 Newtowne Ct, #171, Cambridge

Abdulmalik Jackson, 808 Memorial Drive, Cambridge

Rebecca Wade, 150 Erie St, #902, Cambridge

Duane Callender, 160 Cambridgeside Dr., #148, Cambridge

Laura Montgomery, 3 Putnam Gardens, #902, Cambridge

Members of the Cambridge Residents Alliance Executive Committee on behalf of the Cambridge Residents Alliance

Phyllis Bretholz, 65 Antrim St., Cambridge

Lee Farris, 269 Norfolk St., Cambridge

Jonathan King, 40 Essex St., Cambridge

Shelley Rieman, 201 Franklin St., Cambridge

Kathy Watkins, 90 Fawcett St. Apt 511, Cambridge

Members of the Our Revolution Cambridge Coordinating Committee on behalf of Our Revolution Cambridge

Carolyn Magid, 71 Reed Street, Cambridge

Sean McFarland, 52 Pearl Street, Cambridge

Lisan Mo, 148 Richdale Ave, Cambridge

Louise Parker, 1 Warwick Park, Cambridge

Gwen Volmar, 13 Ware Street, Cambridge

Henry Wortis, 106 Berkshire Street, Cambridge

The Connolly-Elugardo bill is an enabling act. If it should pass into law, each city or town would have to draft its own ordinance.