Mayor Michelle Wu sees "no choice but to try" to revive rent control in Boston despite decades of failure by previous supporters of the policy, encouraged in part by her expectation that Gov. Maura Healey will be a more receptive to the idea than former Gov. Charlie Baker.
The Wu administration is preparing to put a formal proposal before lawmakers to give the city the ability to limit rent increases, more than a year after Wu made the topic a central campaign promise. A plan could surface in her State of the City speech this week. In an interview with WBUR's Radio Boston, Wu said she believes the moment is poised for action with a new Healey administration that is "laser-focused on how we address the housing crisis."
When host Tiziana Dearing pointed out that the governor has not committed to either supporting or opposing a Boston rent control measure, Wu replied that she believes Healey's openness to considering the local proposal is a "step forward" compared to the past year, when Baker -- who repeatedly voiced skepticism about rent control -- was in office.
"We have no choice but to try," Wu said. "It is such a dire, destructive housing market out there, with people who have spent their whole lives here, who are raising their kids, who are giving back in every single way, getting pushed out, not because they're not fighting to work and pay for what they can afford but because that shock of a sudden, dramatic increase is just not something you can plan for."
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Rent control in Boston would need to secure approval from the Boston City Council and, more significantly, the state Legislature, where the idea is not among the named priorities of legislative leaders.
The Wu administration has not publicly detailed a rent control proposal, but the Boston Globe reported last week that a draft version of the plan called allowing landlords to raise rent 6% plus the federal Consumer Prince Index per year, totaling no more than 10 percent maximum. The Globe reported Wu's plan would also exempt new buildings for the first 15 years after they open and smaller owner-occupied properties and landlords to raise rents without limit in between tenants.