To the Editors of The Crimson:
I listened carefully at the Tuesday night housing debate between City Councillor David Sullivan and Candidate William Walsh. Yes, it's all true: the Rent Control Board (like most public bureaucracies) is usually slow and sometimes unpredictable. Rent control sometimes benefits the well-off, and sometimes causes financial hardship for landlords who are not at all wealthy. And rent control sometimes discourages landlords from re-investment in maintenance, which leads to housing deterioration. Yes, all true.
But here's the bottom line: Rent control, imperfect though it may be, is the only mechanism helping to stabilize Cambridge as a well-integrated city with a mixed-income population. Councillor David Sullivan, and the other CCA candidates, know this. If they are re-elected, I hope they will work even harder to redress rent control inequities, and to complement rent control with other programs designed to preserve housing opportunities for residents of limited means.
As for Candidate Walsh: He's a smart man, and it's hard to believe that he doesn't understand the real consequences of his proposed "means test" and "homeownership" emphasis. Whatever their benefits, Mr. Walsh's proposals would also eliminate rent control for most apartments, turn hundreds or thousands of limited-income residents out on the street, and leave them, as they serach for new housing, to run for their lives. Is this what Cambridge wants as its housing policy? R. Philip Dowds