West Siders speak out against attempts to weaken rent stabilization
"I am not in favor of making changes [to the rent stabilization policy] because it would affect many people like me, my family, my friends, who are low income. My building is in very bad shape: we have pests, the doors don't lock, we've dealt with robberies and assaults, and despite that, they want to raise our rent not 5%, not 6%, but 14%."
–Octavio Garcia, West Side renter and member of the Strykers Unidos tenant union here in our neighborhood.
Yesterday, West Side renters showed up powerfully at City Hall to tell our representatives how important it is to keep rent stabilization strong. We spoke out against Ordinance 22-37, which would significantly weaken protections for renters by exempting affordable housing and new construction from the 3% rent cap, and allowing landlords to raise rent in-between tenants.
Monica Bravo, WSCO's Executive Director, called out the lack of transparency and respect for democracy in the city's attempts to weaken rent stabilization– a policy overwhelmingly voted for by the people of Saint Paul.
"My name is Monica Bravo, I live in District 3, where 53% of the residents are housing cost burdened. I live in Ward 2, where 80% of the voters voted for this ordinance. [...] I want to say that I've worked collaboratively with the city staff on the tenant protections, and that was rescinded after you voted for them. People of the city wouldn't have to take policymaking into their own hands if you were doing a good job of protecting 50% of the city who are renters. I sat at the 41-member stakeholder table for many hours, and we never discussed a lookback [retroactively extending exemptions for new construction]– we never discussed that, and so why is that being brought forward now? That's not part of transparency, or a fair process. We also conceded in consensus to 15 years [of exemption from rent stabilization for new construction]– the same ask that the Mayor had, and yet the Council wants to take into your hands another 5 years to make it 20. I do not understand what's going on here. I've worked tirelessly alongside other renters like myself across the city to pass the rent stabilization ordinance, and I worked collaboratively with city staff, I worked with the 41 stakeholder table, at this point, the only thing I can think to do going further is to actually vote for new councilmembers. I also need you to know, Councilmember Noecker, on March 24th, we had a zoom meeting with 24 constituents, and you said that you were interested to keep the ordinance as it was. I ask you to be accountable to that. Thank you."
WSCO Board member Bella Mendoza, above, testifies.
Community leader West Sider Carlos Garcia Velazco testifies, above
West Side landlord and community member Evan Mathiason testifies, above
West Sider Maria Isa Perez Hedges testifies, above
You can also call or write Councilmember Rebecca Noecker at 651-266-8620 or [email protected], and let her know how important it is to keep rent stabilization strong and listen to her constituents who voted overwhelmingly for rent stabilization!
Get to know the West Side Housing Justice Action Circle and how you can get involved! Check out https://www.wsco.org/housingjustice.
Check out news coverage of the August 24th hearing: "St. Paul residents sound off on proposed changes to rent stabilization ordinance"