Bring Back Rental Control in Massachusetts!
Bring Back Rental Control in Massachusetts!
The number of homelessness has drastically increased since 1990’s. According to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, in 2018 there were 20,068 homeless people in Massachusetts. 12,212 were families with children. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) assists homeless families with children by providing emergency shelters. The Emergency Assistance (EA) program receives large number of applications each year. In the year of 2018, 8,145 families applied for assistance only 4,895 families were approved, the rest were denied assistance after losing their homes. DHDC reports that “40% of families are denied assistance each year due to limited resources or/or unmet qualifications. Those who receive help are normally placed in motels or family shelters.
One of the main reasons of homelessness is the lack of affordable housing. More than 50,000 evictions were filled with the Boston Housing Courts between 2010 to 2019, this comes to 5,451 cases per year (https://www.bostonevictions.org/ Most evictions were due to non-payments. Evection can have a negative impact on tenant’s credit score as it will remain on their rental history for 7 years which can make it difficult to rent or own home.
The numbers of reported evictions in Boston illustrated the discrepancy, “2/3 (70%) of market-rate eviction filings are in census tracts where the majority of residents are people of color” (https://www.bostonevictions.org/ Ever since rent control was banned in 1994, market rent has become expensive for some families, especially for people of color. We propose to bring back rental control to Massachusetts to regulate rent and protect tenants and to reduce the number of homeless people in the city.
Landlords have been increasing rent beyond what the average Boston resident can afford. Without a bill to control the maximum that an apartment should be rented for, without negatively impacting landlords, the rental market continues in an unnecessary disproportionate increase which are gauging tenants to the point of growing eviction cases and eventually homelessness.
Although minimum wage is increasing, so is the cost of living across the board. There is an economic injustice built in the system where people of color are more likely not able to meet the cost of living compared to a Caucasian family that is far well off economically. Utilities, groceries, medical insurance and housing costs are boosting up quicker than individual's income as they must spend 30% of more of their income on rent. Residents are taking steps backward and not forward.
This becomes a community issue when, because of the inflexed rental income, contractors are developing homes within the community to capitalize on the rental market although they do not live here. The problem is that the ones who already live here are struggling to make the payments. Therefore, while families from richer communities are moving in, current residents are being pushed out, whether by eviction, to live in smaller apartments (also overprice) with more individuals-crowding, or in worst cases, being homeless. As the number of homeless continues to grow, it makes it more difficult for social services to assist in finding availability in shelters.
There are many advantages for tenants when it comes to rent control. The biggest pro is the financial savings year over year. Rent control can provide better financial stabilities for tenants' which can help them plan if they know their rent is not going to increase each year or will not exceed a specific amount in the case that it does increase. Rent control also decreases the rate of homelessness because rent is more affordable for working families. Hence rent control will allow property owner to get paid on time by tenants and decrease the chances of tenants being behind on rent. In addition, with rent control tenants are likely to renewal their least with the property owner because the rent is affordable as oppose to moving out and finding a cheaper apartment. Not only does rent control allows one to save and reduces one’s chances of getting evicted or becoming homeless but rent control allows more diversity in neighborhoods because the rent is more affordable which allows people of diverse backgrounds to live in certain neighborhoods that were once too expensive to live in.
Rent control can also enable low-income families to live near transit, which they depend on to go to school and work. Family with children can have less stress, just knowing that they are going to stay in their apartments avoiding the potential of displacement and homelessness while preventing families’ separation, in the cases students are split from their school peers because they move to another district.