The Debate Over Rent Control in the City of Boston

April 5, 2019

By: Senior Director Chris Tracy

While Boston’s building boom has yielded many new housing units, there remains an unmet gap that has renewed the calls for alternative action. Some elected officials on the Boston City Council and Massachusetts State House recently began to push for the return of rent control. It is not yet clear what form this rent control would take as those calling for the system are not pushing for a revitalization of the old system but a more modern form of the concept. However, many key leaders in the real estate community and Governor Charlie Baker have come out as staunchly opposed.

Boston City Councilors receive complaints that gentrification is pressuring existing residents out of their long-time communities, leading to a push for additional policy changes. The push back is targeted at the Walsh administration despite claims from the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) that the additional dwellings in the greater Boston market are leveling out the supply and demand crunch and stabilizing prices. City Councilors disagree, claiming that ordinary folks just aren’t feeling those results – their rent remains high and keeps rising, while home ownership for many is just not attainable in the City of Boston or the surrounding area.

The real estate industry and their allies have pushed back stating that rent control would stifle our current building boom and put a major strain on the economy. They state that the influx of new people, businesses and structures have been a boost to our robust economy and regulations to hinder growth would have a devastating effect on the greater Boston area.

This debate will be played out in the coming months, as affordable housing is a key budget priority for the Walsh Administration.

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