Boston rent control plan on the ropes
Boston lawmakers signal skepticism
WHAT DO YOU call the opposite of a trial balloon?
A deep-six signal?
Whatever the term for it, it sure looks like legislative leaders are giving it some play when it comes to Boston’s home-rule petition to reestablish rent control in the city.
Mayor Michelle Wu has made reining in rents a centerpiece of her housing policy. She got the City Council to sign off on a home-rule petition that would let Boston regulate rent increases, something that was outlawed via a 1994 statewide ballot question ending rent control.
There has been skepticism all along about the Legislature’s interest in opening the door to rent control, but this week that wariness seemed to become something closer to outright antipathy.
WBUR’s Steve Brown reported yesterday that the home-rule petition, filed by first-term Boston state Rep. Sam Montaño, has drawn no cosponsors thus far.
What’s more, House Majority Leader Mike Moran of Brighton pointed to the fact that the House overwhelmingly rejected reinstating rent control as part of an 2020 economic development bill.
“A lot of members will say, ‘What is the point of even bringing this up?’ Because the overwhelming majority of us took a position on this two years ago,” Moran told Brown. “Do we bring it up every two years? There’s other things we can talk about with regard to housing. Why are we letting this take up oxygen?”
As the top deputy to House Speaker Ron Mariano, it seems safe to assume that Moran’s views reflect those of the Speaker.The bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Housing, but there appears to be no rush to schedule a hearing for it.
“My focus right now is on taxes and the budget,” Sen. Lydia Edwards, an East Boston Democrat and co-chair of the housing committee, said Tuesday. She said there’s a lot that can be done in those two areas to help address the housing crisis for renters as well as would-be homeowners, citing the proposed increase in the state tax deduction for renters and funding for public housing as examples.