A band of 40 rent control opponents marched and chanted through the Cambridge drizzle for three hours yesterday, stopping along the way at city councillor's houses and Harvard Law School.
"It's been a long walk, but we feel it's important to let people know that the rent control program's failed. Twenty years is long enough," said march organizer and Cambridge homeowner Denise A. Jillson.
A broadsheet handed out by the marchers charged that rent control destroyed cities, decreased diversity in neighborhoods and denied landlords a fair profit. It also said that many tenants of rent-controlled housing units can afford market rate rents.
Rent control is one of Cambridge's most contentious issues, with supporters arguing that it allows low-income people to afford to live in the city and opponents saying that it hurts landlords and prevents the addition of new housing.
Jillson carried a sign that said "Rent Control--Everybody pays or nobody pays" and wore buttons that said "Cambridge liberation front."
Poppy A. Perlegas, 54, walked for three hours with the help of a cane. "My back pain is incredible, honey, but I had to come today," she said.
"We are marching because there are very rich people living in rent-controlled apartments," Perlegas said.
Perlegas, toting a sign that said "Rent Control: taxation without representation" said "Harvard Law School has been very damaging to us."
The Law School's Students for Public Interest Law defends rent control tenants, but not landlords, Small Property Owners Association members said. They added that in some cases, landlords who are poorer than theirtenants are stuck with huge legal fees, whiletenants get excellent legal help free of charge.
Matthew D. Periria, 10, a Somerville elementaryschool student, said that he walked for threehours "to stop rent control, because it'sunconstitutional."
Marchers chanted "rent control is out ofcontrol" in front of the Lowell St. home ofpro-rent control City Councilor Francis H. Duehay'55. The shades were drawn on the house and no oneanswered the megaphone-enhanced shouts, althoughthere was a beige Toyota Corolla in the drivewaywith a "Re-elect Duehay" bumper sticker.
Marchers said that in an earlier stop they hadput an anti-rent control bumper sticker on thefront door of pro-rent control City CouncilorJonathan S. Meyers.
Edward N. Cyr, another pro-rent-control citycouncilor, said he was curious as to why themarchers had not visited his house.
"I would have brought them coffee myself hadthey came," he said. "People have the right tomake statements of this sort. It is not the mostconstructive way to advance dialogue. But itappears to me that dialogue is not at the top oftheir agenda."
Cyr also said that more low income people livein rent controlled housing than in any other formof housing in the city. He said that individuallandowners decide who lives in the buildings, notrent control.
Cyr said of the Small Property Owners'Association in general, "I went and talked to thepeople and never have been more badly treated bypeople who were ruder.