Fair Rent Portland to be on November Ballot; Fundraisers Planned Next Month


Jack O’Brien, a Member of Fair Rent Portland at Tonight’s Meeting.

Emily Straubel, a Renter in Downtown Portland, Offered Fundraiser Ideas.

Seth Berner, an Attorney, Attended This Evening’s Meeting.

“There is nothing to prevent this issue from getting on the November ballot,” said Mayor Ethan Strimling. “It will be on the ballot.”  The Mayor told a group of about 30 supporters of the proposed rent stabilization ordinance at a bi-monthly meeting in downtown Portland this evening.

The Mayor also reported that at the August 21st city council meeting, there will be a public hearing and the proposed ordinance will be put on the September 6th agenda.  That will happen at 6:00 pm.   O’Brien reported that 62% of the city’s residents are renters.  “If everyone voted, we will win.  It’s really important to get supporters out to vote,” O’Brien said.  “We can’t let complacency stand in the way.”

“There are NOT a lot of good reasons against this proposed ordinance.  One hundred forty cities across the country have rent stabilization.  It works,” O’Brien emphasized.  But he acknowledged that the Southern Maine Landlord Association will mount an expensive campaign of  misinformation and obfuscation to try to defeat it.  The role model for this particular ordinance comes from West Hollywood, Ca., where O’Brien lived while he was in graduate school.  It’s a place that has received numerous awards for good management.  O’Brien said that he hopes to meet with representatives of “SMLA” in the near future.

O’Brien said that numerous small businesses have been reaching out to the non-profit offering to assist in whatever way they can from the get-go.  For example, Longfellow Books on Monument Way has offered the use of its space for an event.  “Small businesses are having a hard time keeping long-term employees because of the housing issues in Portland,” O’Brien has been told repeatedly.  On September 5th, there will be a fundraiser at Otto’s and on September 9th at Flatbread.  A group of musicians has volunteered to put on a benefit concert  at Apolhadion in Bayside, near the bowling alley.  That is expected to happen in  late September or early October.  There may be a benefit at SPACE Gallery as well. Plans for fund raising events are still in the preliminary stages of development, but more details will be announced soon.

One unidentified member of the non-profit stated that for many months now, these and similar issues have come before the Housing (Hoax) Committee chaired by Councilor Jill Duson and a committee on which Councilor Belinda Raw (District 1) has sat in the past.   The Committee has long ignored these issues brought to it – a dereliction of its duties she said.  Portland ranks second in the nation for excessive rent increases during the past five years – the Housing (Hoax) Committee has failed in its duty to address these issues.

“A government can be forgiven for making mistakes, but not so when it is frozen in indifference,” were the memorable words of celebrated New Deal/President Franklin D. Roosevelt historian and author, William Leuchtenburg, 95 years young, at the 9th annual Frances Perkins Center award ceremony that took place on Sunday, August 13th, Newcastle. That simple but thoughtful statement by this gentleman speaks volumes about Portland’s “indifferent” government.  Professor Leuchtenburg went on to say that we are in a race carrying the baton of Frances Perkins and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  (Apparently, no one bothered to tell the Portland City Council about this race.  A description of this  uplifting event can be read herein in a post dated August 13th, 2017)

A number of reports from working groups were given in what is  a clearly well organized and thoughtful campaign to win on November 7th!

“I think I’ll dress up as a rent increase for Halloween and  scare everyone to death in my neighborhood,” one supporter was heard  saying leaving the meeting……followed by lots of  chuckles. She might live at Back Bay Tower, 410 Cumberland Avenue.  That’s because many of their long-time residents have undergone 40% – 60% rent increases in the past year or more.

The next meeting of this group will be at a potluck dinner in two weeks on the Eastern Promeade.  Interested members of the public are invited to attend – with questions and suggestions.

(Please see prior posts herein, dated August 7, 2017,  and titled “Fair Rent Portland Volunteers File Petitions at City Clerk’s Office” for more information on the Back Bay Tower excessive rent increases.  Please also see a post on the subject dated May 14, 2016 herein on he same subject at Back Bay Tower.)

(editor’s note:  Councilor Duson is up for re-election in November and should be replaced by challenger Joey Bruenelle, a resident of Munjoy Hill who also supports this proposed ordinance.   Bruenelle has no connection to the real estate industry as does Councilor Belinda Raw (District 1) and Bree Lacasse.  The latter Lacasse is also challenging the at-large-seat of Duson.  Lacasse has ignored three separate requests for a comment on her views on the Fair Rent Portland ordinance.  She works for a developer so that lack of response does not come as a surprise.  The foregoing endorsement of Joey Bruenelle is that of mhn.com and is not that of Fair Rent Portland.)


2 thoughts on “Fair Rent Portland to be on November Ballot; Fundraisers Planned Next Month

  1. I receive Housing authority money to help with my rent in Portland. It is very difficult to know budgeting for my household expenses when a new lease has to be signed yearly. A year rolls around fast, and it is time once again for a new lease. I live on a fixed income and have serious health issues and this very disconcerting. I am very interested in a bill that stabilizes the rent where the lease does not come up annually..

    • Martha, thank you for your comment. I hope for your sake and so many others in Portland that the city has ignored, that the voters of Portland support it. Best, Carol

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