City Tenants Gather to Protest Expected Increases in Rents

More than 100 Cambridge tenants gathered in a Cambridgeport hall last night to plot strategy for combatting rent increases expected this spring.

The tenants protested a general adjustment in rents which the city's Rent Control Board is expected to approve this spring, an adjustment which will pass increased fuel costs and general inflation along to tenants.

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"The Rent Control Board is guaranteeing profits for landlords and we as tenants continue to be pushed down with our pockets empty," Chris Baker, a leader of the Cambridge Tenants Organization (CTO) told the cheering crowd.

"We don't want dollars coming out of our pockets to insure landlord profits," Joel Johnson, a member of the Alliance of Cambridge Tenants (ACT), added. "It's time to say 'No More,'" he said.

Another CTO organizer, Janet Landsbury, predicted rents could rise as much as 25 per cent this year, on top of increases last year that she said averaged nearly another 25 per cent. "We have to have hundreds of people demanding another rent board hearing so we can protest this," she said.

The tenants also made plans for political organizing to maintain a pro-rent control majority on Cambridge's city council in this fall's local elections.

"The tenant convention has to form again," Baker said. The city's tenants endorsed a slate of pro-rent control candidates in 1979 which included four of the five councilors supporting rent control.

Should rent control advocates win more power in the city, rent control should be changed to more aggressively protect tenants, Baker added. "Rent control cannot continue to work for landlords. This is our city--not the landlord's city, not the developer's city," she added.

But each of the speakers stressed that a weak rent control law was better than no rent control at all. In Somerville, where rent control was abolished two years ago, rents have gone up as much as 200 per cent and "students and professionals have forced the low and moderate income tenants out of the city," one Somerville resident told the crowd