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Mayor Michelle Wu names committee to study rent stabilization

First step in long process to fulfill one of her signature campaign promises

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu hosted a morning press conference to make an announcement related to accessible child care and early education. The mayor announced the new Office of Early Childhood.Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Inching forward on one of her signature campaign pushes, Boston Mayor Michelle Wu on Thursday named an advisory committee to study rent stabilization.

The group of more than 20 people includes housing advocates, tenants, academic experts, and leaders of community organizations. It also includes a few private developers, though not the leadership of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board or NAIOP, a prominent trade group that represents developers and landlords.

“The majority of Boston residents and families are renters,” Wu said in a statement. “If we aren’t willing to take on the rent increases that are driving families out of Boston, then we aren’t meeting the needs of our neighborhoods.”


Naming the committee members is a small step on what has become a signature issue for Wu, who was the only candidate in last year’s crowded mayoral race to advocate for reviving rent control, which would essentially cap yearly rent increases in some apartments. But the issue still faces a long and difficult path.

Among the challenges: It would require approval from the Massachusetts Legislature. Rent control has been outlawed in Massachusetts since a 1994 ballot initiative banned it statewide. Efforts in recent years to allow cities and towns to set their own rent regulations have been met with little appetite on Beacon Hill.

And it’s not yet clear what sort of rent control system Wu might propose — and it likely won’t be for months. The new committee will meet through 2022, aiming to shape a proposal for the next state legislative session in 2023, the city said in a news release.

Rent control faces some strong opposition in Massachusetts, including from Governor Charlie Baker. Critics say rent control could discourage housing construction and give landlords less incentive to invest in their properties. Others say it drives up the cost of apartments that are not covered by rent control. Still, rents in Greater Boston are among the highest in the country, and other states — including California and Oregon — have strengthened tenant protections in recent years.


Rent control is just one facet of Wu’s housing agenda, which also includes investments in public housing and a push to raise new revenue streams for affordable housing.

The committee will convene monthly and solicit feedback from experts and at community listening sessions. The first one is set for April 19.

The committee members are:

  • Emma Anderson, Boston Teachers Union member
  • Kathy Brown, Coordinator at Boston Tenant Coalition
  • Joe Byrne, Executive Secretary-Treasurer for the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
  • Karen Chen, Executive Director at Chinese Progressive Association
  • Filaine Deronnette, Vice President of Health Systems for 1199 SEIU
  • Emilio Dorcely, Chief executive of Urban Edge
  • Dermot Doyne, Local landlord and business owner
  • Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies
  • Beyazmin Jimenez, Abundant Housing Massachusetts Board President
  • Michael Kane, Executive Director at HUD Tenant Alliance
  • Brian Kavoogian, Managing Director of National Development
  • Curtis Kemeny, CEO and President of Boston Residential Group
  • Joe Kriesberg, President of Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations
  • Denise Matthews-Turner, Co-Executive Director at City Life Vida Urbana
  • Lisa Owens, Executive Director at Hyams Foundation
  • Jeanne Pinado, Vice President of Capital Markets at Colliers International
  • Mimi Ramos, Executive Director at New England United for Justice
  • Megan Sandel, Associate Professor of Pediatric Medicine at Boston University
  • Chanda Smart, CEO at Onyx
  • Lauren Song, Senior Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services
  • Justin Steil, Associate Professor of Law and Urban Planning, MIT
  • Carolyn Villers, Executive Director at Mass Senior Action
  • Josh Zakim, Founder and Executive Director at Housing Forward MA
  • Kirk Sykes, Managing Director at Accordia Partners
  • Kim Sherman, President of Related Beal

Emma Platoff can be reached at Follow her @emmaplatoff.