TENAC URGES TENANTS,TESTIFY AGAINST MEANS TESTS FOR RENT CONTROL,OTHER "REFORMS!"
TROJAN HORSE LEGISLATION
LABELED "REFORM" FOR TENANTS
Councilmember Bonds has unfortunately introduced legislation that would chip away at rent control, whether she or the council are aware of it or not. One bill would weaken rent control by tying it to income! ("Means testing.") A Trojan horse if there ever was one. There was never an income requirement for rent control. It was always offered freely to people of all incomes. Why start one now? The answers are below. Tenant advocates devoutly oppose this change! We need you, and as many as possible, to testify against this change and against the other gifts to landlords proposed in the Bonds bills. Worse, all these "helpful changes" come at this time of utmost crisis, when tenants desperately need attention focused on the upcoming eviction crisis and the real reforms tenants have proposed, not bills that are gifts to landlords. Please see the Details below (on the bills and signing up to testify) in the email from tenant advocate Carren Kaston. You must sign up by close of business, Friday, Sept. 11th. Please share this email with all you can. Also, Please contact CM Bonds and let her know of your opposition: firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. (202) 724-8062). WHY TENANTS SHOULD OPPOSE THESE BILLS (You can use this in any testimony, calls or emails): First, Landlords don't need this, they have made billions and are waiting to evict an estimated 60,000 in DC alone (figure per DC Dept. of Human Services). And tenants don't need this. Discrimination based on income source is prohibited. Voucher tenants always did and do live in rent control buildings. The argument that it puts resources where they are needed is false. It's really an excuse to chip away at rent control. At this time, tenants need real, helpful reform and pandemic eviction help, not landlord gifts. Second, by tying rent control to certain incomes, it serves only to further make DC into a city of the very rich and very poor and gives landlords more power. Goodbye middle class and whoever fails the test. And what helps makes cities strong and an alert, vigilant populace is its middle class. That's why we think landlords want to tinker with it. Since when did they ever want to help rent control out of the goodness of their hearts, or to help low-income residents? Third, means testing would further landlord's purposes to divide and conquer tenants: it would create different classes of tenants in the same buildings, stoking rivalries and jealousy. (Google "poor doors" in NYC to find the effects!) Fourth, it would further landlords' avowed purpose to do away with rent control; means testing is part of that attempt, to achieve death by a thousand cuts. Lastly, this is an end-around, no matter what they say. Trying to pass these bills at the end of a session when all eyes are focused on the upcoming massive eviction crisis (and the omnibus rent reform tenants support), is not just poor policy. It allows landlords with their army of lawyers and lobbyists even greater advantage. It is really taking tenants by surprise, not allowing them time for properly vetting and reviewing the bill. Rushing it past tenants, the ones affected, without adequate comment and review period is unfair, to say the least. Worse, passing landlord gifts as a substitute for the tenant-supported reform bill, and labeling these gift-bills as the reform needed is grossly unfair; it could also be seen as quite a legislative sleight of hand. THE IMPORTANT DETAILS: ----- Forwarded Message ----- From: Carren Kaston <email@example.com> Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2020, 12:44:34 AM EDT Subject: Please Ask to Testify at Anita Bonds' Rent Control Reform Hearings by this Friday, SEPTEMBER 11 -- Incl. Sept. 24 Hearing on Restricting Rent-Controlled Apts to People of a Certain Income Folks, Councilmember Anita Bonds has announced a tight schedule of hearings on her 11 proposed mini rent control reform bills. Many of us regard them as attempts to side-step and deflect attention from the major rent control reforms that are needed to make a difference, especially in DC's current housing crisis. Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau and Trayon White reintroduced a major rent control reform omnibus bill this summer, after the old rent control bill was rushed through the Council unchanged for another 10 years. I've been unable to learn when the omnibus bill will have its hearing, though I may know more by the end of the week. In any event, I would urge people to have a look at the mini bills that CM Bonds has proposed -- see the attachment to this email. it shows that the bills' hearings will take place in three tightly-spaced waves: Monday, September 14; Thursday, September 17; and Thursday, September 24. If you want to testify in person at any of the hearings, I understand you need to let the the Council's Committee on Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization know by this Friday, September 11. Send your name, contact information, and affiliation/role, if any, to firstname.lastname@example.org by close of business September 11. The 3-page attachment describes the bills. Please note that Thursday, September 24, is the date when the hearing on Bill 23-0530 -- which proposes restricting rent-controlled apartments to people below a certain income -- will take place. Although no one who currently lives in rent-controlled housing would be kicked out, over time, as people pass away or move out, the character and charm of rent-controlled housing will, in my view, diminish. The current mix of people of different incomes, different professions and occupations, and different races and ethnicities should be treasured and preserved. And it should be expanded, in my opinion, to more buildings in DC, rather than contracted and restricted by means testing to determine who can live in rent-controlled buildings. In any event, that's a part of what I plan to testify regarding Bill 23-0530. Please also note that CM Bonds has also laid out as the foundation for all her mini bills a statement about the "Certificates of Assurance in Rent Control." A roundtable on this subject kicks off the hearings -- on Monday, September 14, 2020, at 9 am. The Certificates of Assurance state that because a 1985 bill committed to giving landlords a property tax credit equal to any rent they would lose if rent control were expanded to more buildings, no expansion of rent control should take place now because there might be a time in the future when there would be an even more "severe housing crisis." Of course, many of us think we're in a severe enough housing crisis now to warrant reconsideration of this 1985 legislation. Bear in mind that bills that were once passed and considered necessary can be revised and new ways to manage funding can be found if the will is there to do so. The proposed foundation of CM Bonds' reform bills is stated as something I doubt is still true: ". . . the Rental Housing Act of 1985 exempts more than 40% of the housing stock from rent stabilization." But while more than 40% of DC housing may have been exempt from rent control in 1985, the percentage of housing exempt from rent control is much higher now, as rent control has suffered severe decline due to condo and coop conversions and, above all, a massive amount of new residential construction. I hope that many of us will testify at the roundtable against the applicability of these Certificates of Assurance to our current situation and the need to revise or abandon them in favor of innovative ways of thinking that will help us now. SEE The Bonds Rent Control Bills - CLICK Here or Summaries