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Coalition to rally in support of stronger rent control laws this weekend

The organizing comes as D.C. considers extending rent control for another decade

The façade of a multistory brick apartment building under blue skies.
An apartment building in D.C.
Getty Images

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.

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.