By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,700)
Renters have known for years there is a rental crises in Portland. Excessive rent increases and innocent people experiencing unjustifiable 30-day evictions when the vacancy rate is non-existent are the norm in Portland.
It’s been “business as usual” for years. No one is keeping track of how many renters have been displaced by these factors and condo conversion. of the rental stock. The City of Portland certainly isn’t counting and doesn’t want to know. The City has failed to address these issues. It has chosen to bury itself in “the process.” Not good enough. It seems that the misnamed Housing Committee may have just figured that out – too little too late – if at all. It’s the “third-rail” of Portland politics.
The Rental Housing Committee would have put the focus on the real issues in Portland. Instead, the Housing Committee paints far too broad a picture to deal with the limited issues of renters. It need not be that complicated except that Jill Duson, councilor and chair of the Committee wants it that way, apparently. The crisis is about renters and the abuses they experience and not the overall housing situation in general. The Rental Housing Committee would have been more to the point. Renters know that city officials are dragging their collective feet about supporting them in this rental crises. Keeping renters in the city reduces property taxes and city revenue – that is something the city council doesn’t want to do. The City Council has a lot to lose by supportIng renters!
The City is too cozy with the real estate community and too afraid of offending it. Any step that landlords are opposed to might cause a law-suit from the powerful industry. In recent years, Portland has developed an embarrassing track record when it comes to lawsuits. Gun shy by its abysmal courtroom record, the city’s number one priority is to stay out of court! Litigation is expensive and city hall simply doesn’t have the in-house expertise to handle law-suits or the budget to pay for outside counsel. An attitude reflected by Tyler Norod, Housing Planner, in his several presentations to the Housing Committee;this evening, a puppet of the Housing Committee and the real estate industry.
There is relief that the City could offer renters if they wanted to, but clearly it doesn’t want to. The Housing Committee has been meeting since January and just this evening took up some possible solutions for renters. It’s become an opportunity for city councilors and the Figurehead to grandstand – Figurehead Mayor Strimling is as authentic as a $2.00 bill. He’s simply trying to reinvent his image and put his political career back on track. (It’s believed by many the high-priced Figurehead is using this position as a stepping stone to run for the Governor of Maine.) Those career plans fell off track earlier this year when some of his unpopular decisions were revealed herein – starting on January 12th – both personal and professional.
Far too little far too late – the Council’s agenda since January has come full circle. There isn’t one for renters.