A plan to prevent affordable rentals from hitting the market rate

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Christopher Gavin — The Boston.com Team

June 28, 2021 1:34 p.m.

Boston city councilors seek to keep private, affordable apartments from fetching market prices when decades-old deals expire.

Earlier this month, several advisers filed a petition on autonomy which, if passed, would give the city the power to regulate the rents of certain private housing projects, WBUR reported.

The measure is similar to what the council supported in 2016. If the council supports the new measure, it would require the approval of state lawmakers to apply.

Supporters say the move is necessary because 40-year-old agreements – with the owners of such developments not to raise rents in exchange for government subsidies – are expected to expire in the coming years.

According to the file, 928 units in the city are at risk of being converted at market rates by next year. Out of 30,435 subsidized private apartments, nearly 2,000 have already been converted.

Councilor Matt O’Malley, One of the lawmakers who presented the petition said officials had previously tried to prevent the conversion of “expiring” units, but their efforts failed to gain traction on Beacon Hill, according to WBUR.

This time, however, could be different, he said.

“Most of them are elderly, and it is just unfair that they are at a real risk of eventually being displaced and losing their homes,” O’Malley said.

Frank Sagarese is also in favor of the measure. Sagarese is a resident of the Forbes Building on the Jamaican Plain, where those protections are expected to expire in March 2022, the news station reports.

“I am on a fixed income. I am on social security and my wife is disabled, ”he said. “I am disabled. I am 73 years old and I am afraid of ending up homeless.

Jeff Sacks, an attorney for the Forbes Building, told the station that the owners of the building are trying to strike a deal with state officials to ensure the units remain affordable. Although he did not disclose details of the plans, he said residents would be protected from displacement.

Sacks said the council’s proposal was mostly about rent control. In Massachusetts, voters rejected rent controls in a 1994 poll question, ending the practice in cities like Boston and Cambridge.

The idea of ​​using rent control to alleviate the housing crisis in Boston is again attracting interest.

“I think the answer to the affordable housing issues for Boston – and our region and our country – is housing production,” Sacks said. “It’s not about controlling rents. I think it has been proven.


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