Testimony on Tenant Protection Legislation

A Better Cambridge's Testimony on Tenant Protection Legislation

Delivered before the Joint Committee on Housing on January 14, 2020

Chairman Honan, Chairman Crighton, members of the Committee--

My name is Rebecca Schofield, and I am here on behalf of A Better Cambridge, an all-volunteer organization that believes for Cambridge to continue to live up to its promise, we must solve our housing affordability crisis. The solution has to involve producing more housing, especially affordable housing, in Cambridge and elsewhere to meet the critical regional demand. But it also requires protecting tenants from the immediate effects of this crisis.

This crisis has worsened displacement that disproportionately affects communities of color and erodes our community.  Our Mayor’s Task Force on Tenant Displacement recently documented the serious affordability and displacement problems facing renters who make up the clear majority of Cambridge’s population. We know additional tenant protections are needed in Cambridge. 

Therefore, ABC supports H.3924 and other bills before you today that would empower Massachusetts cities and towns to pass tenant protection measures that meet their own local needs. Cambridge is already taking important steps in this area, including funding legal services for tenants facing eviction. But we realize that passing additional legal protections will require state legislation, and that is why we support H.3924 and similar bills. ABC will continue to advocate for the new Cambridge City Council to develop more detailed policies for tenant protections appropriate to our housing market and community, as enabled by these bills before you here today. In Cambridge, this could include regulating extreme rent increases, restricting arbitrary evictions, and strengthening controls on condominium conversions. We will also continue to advocate for increasing enforcement of fair housing law, and improving mechanisms for voucher holders to find safe, stable housing.

Thank you for your prompt support of this important legislation. We hope you will report it favorably and soon, because this crisis is a serious and immediate one for us.