Members of Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee Announced
Building upon her commitment to protect Boston renters, today Mayor Michelle Wu announced a Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee made up of housing advocates, developers, tenants, and other stakeholders. The advisory committee members will study local housing conditions as well as the structure and outcomes of rent stabilization programs in other cities. They will be tasked with making recommendations to the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office of Housing on strategies to stabilize Boston rents and protect tenants from displacement. The committee will meet throughout 2022 with the goal of shaping a proposal for the next state legislative session.
“Cities across the country use rent stabilization as one tool among many to protect tenants and keep families in their homes,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “The majority of Boston residents and families are renters. If we aren’t willing to take on the rent increases that are driving families out of Boston, then we aren’t meeting the needs of our neighborhoods. I thank the broad group of stakeholders, including advocates, tenants, and developers, who are willing to roll up their sleeves to reimagine what’s possible.”
Rent stabilization measures in cities across the United States empower municipalities to set certain limits on annual rent increases for existing tenants, and may also include other tenant protections. These approaches promote the preservation of mixed-income neighborhoods and prevent renters from being pushed out of their communities.
“As an organizer fighting for a housing market that lets people move when they want, where they want, not when they have to, I am pleased to be a part of this committee,” said Beyazmin Jimenez, Abundant Housing Massachusetts Board President. “I look forward to working with the other members of this committee to explore ways that the City can create more accessible housing in our communities.”
“Having worked with previous Boston mayors on planning and affordable housing policy, I’m looking forward to being able to serve the new administration and offer my expertise to shape the conversation around rent stabilization,” said Curtis Kemeny, CEO and President of Boston Residential Group. “This is a step in the right direction, and I am confident that the City will work to ensure a thoughtful, inclusive, and balanced policy that works for all residents.”
Almost 65% of Bostonians are renters, and more than half of them spend more than 30% of their monthly income on rent, leaving them struggling to save and vulnerable to housing instability. The 2020 Census also made clear that Black families are leaving the city, with the non-Hispanic Black population citywide falling by over 6% between 2010-2020. Rent stabilization is one of many tools to support renters in the short term, alongside longer-term measures that can be used to tackle housing supply and affordability.
The work of this committee would complement the work of the Office of Housing Stability. The Office of Housing Stability helps tenants in housing crises due to fire, natural disaster, eviction, or condemnation with the goal of putting residents on the path to housing stability. Its efforts include launching tenants' rights clinics for those who are not able to come to City Hall during business hours; offering low- and no-cost mediation and dispute resolution for landlords and tenants; launching the Housing Court Navigator, which provides legal advice for tenants; launching the Landlord Incentive program, which offers financial backing for landlords renting to formerly unhoused people; and creating Boston's first-ever online guide to evictions, designed to assist tenants in every phase of a potential eviction proceeding.
Rent stabilization would complement Mayor Wu’s other initiatives to address Boston’s housing affordability, including the Transfer Fee and Senior Property Tax Exemption Home Rule Petition, and her commitment to update the City’s commercial linkage fee and Inclusionary Development Policies. She is also highlighting the importance of Housing by renaming the Department of Neighborhood Development as the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and bringing a new focus on equity by signing an Executive Order relative to affirmatively furthering fair housing.
This Advisory Committee will convene monthly to hear from experts on different rent stabilization models and City officials from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) on local rental market conditions. The committee will also hold community listening sessions throughout the process to hear community perspectives on housing affordability challenges and potential solutions.