Residents Testify on Competing Rent Bills

Residents, advocates and real estate company leaders testified on competing rent protection bills at the Tuesday afternoon Council meeting.

County Councilmembers unveiled two separate proposals earlier this month. Bill 15-23 would create a maximum allowable rent increase of 8% plus the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the area. Lead sponsors are Councilmembers Gabe Albornoz, Marilyn Balcombe, Natali Fani-González, Andrew Friedson, Sidney Katz, and Dawn Luedtke.

Carlos Orbe, Jr, with Maryland Latinos Unidos, said bill 15-23 “adds protections against abusive practices.”

“This bill will provide direct assistance to the most vulnerable of residents, protect them against rent gouging, provide access to home ownership to build generational wealth and increase the supply of income-restricted affordable housing”.

Resident and community leader Mario Alvarado Villa, who had a translator speak on his behalf, said he is absolutely against the bill.

“As an immigrant who serves this community, I see on a daily basis the challenges faced by low-income families who are Latino, Black and from many other immigrant communities in this county,” a translator said.

Bill 16-23 — the Housing Opportunity, Mobility, and Equity (HOME) Act — limits allowable annual rent increases to 3% or the rental component of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whichever one is lower. Councilmembers Will Jawando and Kristin Mink are lead sponsors, and County Executive Marc Elrich also supports the bill.

There are exemptions included in both bills.

Marie Ndip pleaded with councilmembers to support and pass the HOME Act. She said she was told she has to leave her current home by April 18, renew her lease at a 4% rent increase or be automatically placed on a month-to-month lease at an 8% increase. 

“I am feeling very hopeless and angry,” she said, “as finding a new affordable home in Montgomery County is proving to be extremely difficult.”

Ndip said she cannot afford a 12-month lease at a 4% increase and must take the month-to-month option as she looks for a new home.

Lily Goldstein, with Bethesda-based real estate investment company JBG Smith, spoke against the bill. She stated it further reduces housing supply “as it makes the county a less attractive place in which to invest and create new housing and constrains the quality of the existing inventory.”  

Additional public hearings will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday.  Glass said 60 residents will testify in the evening.

Work sessions for both bills are tentatively scheduled for June 15.

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