A collective of local advocacy groups plans to stage a rally this Saturday for expanding the District’s rent control laws. The rally, which will happen at Mount Pleasant’s Lamont Plaza beginning at 3 p.m., is part of a broader push to pass policies favorable to tenants while the city sees significant gentrification amid an affordable housing crunch. Under the banner of “Reclaim Rent Control,” the activists want limitations on annual rent increases to apply to a larger swath of D.C. buildings and for loopholes in the current laws to be closed or tightened.
“It’s been clear for a long time now that our nation’s capital is in the middle of a housing emergency,” the organizers say in a Facebook page for the rally. “We cannot afford to keep the status quo any longer.” District lawmakers are currently weighing legislation that would prolong the city’s rent control laws through 2030 and that was introduced with unanimous support in September. Although the D.C. Council’s housing committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the bill, as drafted it would preserve rent control for approximately 80,000 units.
We’re in a housing crisis, and current laws simply aren’t strong enough: since 1975, we’ve lost 50,000 units to loopholes and landlord greed. That’s why we joined @RentControlDC to #ReclaimRentControl. Let’s demand more than the status quo.https://t.co/WBjIH7f9vW pic.twitter.com/Pfob9hW8iE— Metro DC DSA (@mdc_dsa) October 22, 2019
The coalition features a variety of anti-poverty organizations and unions, including D.C. Jobs with Justice, the Latino Economic Development Center, the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, SEIU Local 500, and Unite Here Local 25. Metro D.C. Socialists of America, which also belongs to this collective, will host a town hall on rent control Thursday at the Cleveland Park Library. (Some organizers are leading a parallel effort to build a citywide tenant union.)
As of today, D.C.’s rent control laws pertain to apartments buildings constructed before 1975 and generally restrict annual rent hikes to 4.3 percent, or 2 percent plus the consumer price index, an inflation measure. Landlords are able to raise rents above this level in certain cases.