Committee to Consider Plans to Relieve Portland's Housing Crunch

Sep 28, 2016

PORTLAND, Maine - As Portland's City Council considers new policies aimed at relieving the city's housing crunch, one set of ideas proposed by Mayor Ethan Strimling may be falling off the table, including rent control.

A month ago, Strimling proposed restrictions on rent increases and no-cause evictions, one-year lease requirements, and a bar on discriminating against tenants who rely on housing vouchers.

Now, the chair and vice chair of the Housing Committee are proposing more modest measures: among them, extending notice requirements for rent increases by 15 days to two months, providing brochures that detail tenant and landlord rights, and establishing a tenant/landlord task force.

Committee Chairwoman Jill Duson says those are proposals she believes can find consensus on the committee where Strimling's might not. Rent control's day has passed, she adds. 

"It's not a solution for now. It helps people who already have apartments without regard to their income, and it creates an even higher hurdle for low-income people who are looking for rent to jump over, because there will be less turnover in apartments."

"What I am looking for is something that is bold and direct in confronting this crisis," says Strimling, who says the chairs' proposals are good, but don't go far enough.

"This is a situation that I see almost every day. I literally had a woman in my office yesterday who's going to be evicted. She got 30 days notice and she's going to be homeless. This is a situation that I see almost every day."

After nearly nine months of work and hearings on the issue, the Housing Committee meets tonight and could take preliminary votes on the mayor's proposals, the chairs' proposal, or any other councilor's.

And once it's passed its package on to the full council for consideration, the committee then plans to turn its attention to the next big issue: how to create more housing in the city - and to ensure that some if it is affordable.