More than 100 representatives of area tenant groups, including Cambridge tenants, converged on the State House yesterday to protest a proposed amendment to the Massachusetts rent control law that they alleged would "tear the guts out" of the current law.
Following the demonstration, more than two-thirds of the protesters jammed the lobby of Mayor Kevin White's office, demanding that the city show support for continued local rent control of federally-subsidized housing.
The State House protest, organized by the State Rent Control Task Force, a loose coalition of Massachusetts tenant associations, was aimed at a proposal that would allow a landlord to raise his rents if the rent control board does not act upon his petition for an increase within 90 days.
CTOC Turns Out
Roberta Praeger, a member of the Cambridge Tenants Organizing Committee (CTOC) which accounted for about 25 of the protesters, yesterday called the amendment "disgusting." She said the groups are fighting for extensions of rent control to all cities, towns and federal subsidized housing.
The protesters, carrying banners and megaphones, moved unannounced to White's office where they confronted William Young, assistant to the Mayor, and William Edgerton, administrator of the Boston rent control program.
The demonstrators demanded to know if White would continue to support local rent control of Federal Housing Authority (FHA) developments.
Edgerton told the youthful crowd that White has "supported control of FHA housing in the past and will continue his support." He added, "This city is fighting with you to allow us to continue FHA rent control in Boston."
Young repeatedly told the protesters that White, who is at a conference in Miami, "would be more than happy to talk with you Monday when he returns."
The crowd carried signs demanding, "Less rent, more control," and chanted
"More than 80 per cent of Cambridge is tenants."
Rent Control Bill 842, with the proposed amendment, is scheduled to go before the State Senate next week.
Praeger said the tenant groups favor the extention of the bill--without the amendment--on a permanent basis, rather than for three years as proposed.
Rent control in FHA housing in Boston will expire December 31 if the courts do not decide in favor of local control.
There is presently no rent control on Cambridge FHA housing