More than 150 Cambridge residents at a tenants' convention Saturday endorsed resolutions calling for construction of affordable housing in Cambridge, reform of rent control, and an end to the removal of rent-controlled apartments from the housing market.
"Cambridge is primarily a low-moderate income city, but that is changing with the new construction, new development, rent increases through the rent board, and condo conversion," said Michael H. Turk, coordinator of the Harvard Tenants Union and a member of the Rent Control Task Force, which organized the convention.
The convention focused on the displacement of low and moderate income tenants, and tenants passed a total of eight resolutions criticizing the lack of affordable housing in the city, the inaccessibility of the Rent Board and its failure to enforce its own regulations, the removal of rent controlled units through condominium conversion, vacancy decontrol, and drastic building rehabilitation.
The tenants plan a petition drive to bring their resolutions before the council for action.
"People who have worked on tenant issues have seen things going on in the Council and they wanted to counterforce that," said William H. Noble, a member of the Simplex Steering Committee, one of seven tenant organization represented at the convention.
Turk said some of the tenants were concerned that Mayor Alfred E. Vellucci was considering changing his past consistent support of rent control.
Vellucci said Sunday that "I am a strong supporter of rent control."
William Cavellini, a member of the Rent Control Task Force and of the Simplex Steering Committee, said that the tenants want more than the "token" unanimous vote supporting rent control given recently by the city council.
"We're talking about enforcing the law as it exists and strengthening it," Cavellini said.