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NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — Rent stabilization will not be put before New Bedford voters this year.
The New Bedford City Council failed to override Mayor Jon Mitchell’s veto of the measure, which would have put the question on the November ballot.
Those who support the measure argue that the ballot question would be nonbinding and would simply open a conversation to try and reduce price gouging by landlords.
“Let the people vote,” Councilor Shane Burgo said. “We need to act, and that’s what this ballot question is designed to do — to give people a voice.”
Dozens of supporters and residents rallied in front of New Bedford City Hall prior to the vote to show their support for the measure.
“When you’re talking about an elderly person who may have been living in that house for 20 years and has had modest rent increases throughout that time … then somebody new buys the building and doubles that person’s rent? It’s ridiculous and unconscionable,” Richard Drolet of the Coalition for Social Justice said.
The City Council approved the ballot question earlier this year. Mitchell vetoed it because he believes it will have the opposite effect and lead to larger rent increases.
Councilor Naomi Carney agrees.
“I’m so afraid that people are going to be displaced,” she said. “The vote is in November, the winter is coming up … what happens if these horrible landlords decide to double and triple the rents and evict these people?”
But some residents worry that, if this isn’t addressed soon, that will happen anyway.
“We already have enough greed going on with businesses gouging prices and utilities gouging prices,” resident Wendy Morrill said. “Your mortgage isn’t going up, so there’s no reason for rent to be going up exorbitant rates. That’s not fair.”
While efforts to override the veto failed, councilors in favor of the ballot question tell 12 News that conversations surrounding rent stabilization are already happening.
In a statement following the vote, Mitchell said he looks forward to, “…working with the council in the same cooperative spirit on the major challenges and opportunities facing the city in the days ahead.”
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