Tenant Groups to Demonstrate For Mass. Rent Control Law

At least 16 Massachusetts tenant groups will demonstrate at the State House next month to urge the Local Affairs Committee to reconsider extension of a state rent control law.

The committee on Wednesday killed 36 bills that would have either extended, amended or repealed a four-year "local option" law by voting to study the matter when the legislative session ends late this year.

The state law, which has allowed "middle-sized cities" such as Cambridge, Boston, Somerville and Brookline to impose rent controls, expires next April 1.

"The study is an excuse for politicians to avoid taking a stand on rent controls before the [November] elections," Mark Goldowitz, of the Cambridge Tenants Organizing Committee, said yesterday.

Goldowitz, who is also a member of the state Rent Control Task Force, a coaltion of 16 tenant groups in the state, said the task force plans to converge in the State House lobby May 22.

Organize Response

Wesley E. Profit '69, a member of the East Cambridge Hard Times tenant group, said yesterday Cambridge tenants will meet this weekend to form some sort of organized response."

Over 1000 tenants throughout the state packed the State House April 10 to urge extension of the present law. They confronted legislators in a Local Affairs Committee hearing that lasted almost 20 hours.

Goldowitz said a committee study might be delayed long enough so that the present law will expire before next year's legislature can act on rent controls.

"They say they need to study the proposals, but they used the same excuse last year," Goldowitz said. "They're just making excuses to buy time."

State Rep. Robert A. Vigneau (D-Burlington) argued Wednesday that because of the growing debate over rent control, a full study is necessary before acting on the present law.

Saundra Graham, chairman of the Cambridge City Council Committee on Housing said last night that the city "will be in terrible trouble when the law expires."

Local rents can be expected to soar dramatically, she said.

"The legislators really avoided the issue. The people of Cambridge need to fight to retain rent controls. They must do all they can extend the present law," she said.