Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — a staunch advocate of rent control measures — said she was one of the signatories on the initiative spearheaded by state Rep. Mike Connolly to put a rent control question on the 2024 ballot. Connolly ended his bid to put the question on the ballot late last week.
“I had signed the petition myself, so I was one of those 10,000 — and I still continue to support the concept,” she said Tuesday on Boston Public Radio.
Connolly cited too few signatures when he ended the campaign, and said the approach had caused infighting among advocates over whether it was the right time for a ballot question.
Rent control, which had been in effect in several Massachusetts cities, got the boot back in 1994 in a statewide ballot question, and large-scale attempts to bring it back haven’t gained traction. In Boston, the City Council passed a home rule petition in March for rent control, awaiting approval from the state Legislature. This petition, which also had a hearing at the State House Tuesday, would cap annual year-over-year rent increases to 10%.
For Wu, rent stabilization is “one piece of our larger housing strategy.”
“We all know that housing is dire, and this would allow us to help protect people in the short term while we are trying to close the gap between the housing supply that is needed and what we have,” Wu said.
Meanwhile, Somerville Mayor Katjana Ballantyne recently submitted a home rule petition to the City Council for rent stabilization. Brookline is considering implementing rent stabilization and eviction protections.
Wu also clarified why Boston had to change course on a climate initiative. The city will no longer vie for the final spot in a pilot program that allows the banning of fossil fuels in new construction — like gas hookups for stoves, and fuel for heating. She had submitted a home rule petition seeking to join the pilot last year.
But she said on Boston Public Radio she received signals that Boston was unlikely to be accepted into the program, which only had one remaining spot out of 10.
“We had to make a choice: do we rush the engagement with community to do this by the deadline for a program that there was little chance we were actually going to get selected for, or to find a way to try to expand the program — advocate — but basically give up that last slot,” Wu said.
The mayor emphasizef her committment to seeking out other ways to push toward a more sustainable city. A majority of greenhouse gas emissions in Boston come from buildings, she said.
“The decision was not about whether we want to move forward and be a fossil fuel-free city or not,” Wu said. “We are doing it, one way or the other.”