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NM Rent-Control Advocates: 'In It for the Long Haul'

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Monday, October 31, 2022   

Advocates for rent control in Albuquerque said they will not give up their quest for more affordable housing, despite the city council rejecting such a proposal earlier this month.

Supporters and opponents debated a motion urging New Mexico lawmakers to repeal a state law prohibiting local governments from enacting rent-control policies.

Bex Hampton, organizer for the Peoples Housing Project in Albuquerque, said the meeting ended with a failed 2-7 vote, but her group will continue pushing for what it calls "people, not profit."

"We're in it for the long haul; we know that this is going to be a long battle," Hampton acknowledged. "The current situation is far from dignified housing for all, and we're going to keep fighting until we get there."

Councilor Dan Lewis was one of seven who voted again the measure. He called it well-intentioned but "misguided," arguing it could scare off future investment and make the housing situation worse. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Albuquerque has risen by 42% since March 2020, according to the online listing service Rent.com.

At the meeting, Hampton noted renters shared disturbing experiences, including stories about landlords charging excessive, nonrefundable application fees before they provide a single service. By pursuing rent control, she believes the city could address the power imbalance.

"We had elders talking about not being able to live just a dignified life on Social Security; [they] definitely can't take any type of rent increases," Hampton pointed out. "There's thousands of people that are on the brink of homelessness."

The proposal was offered by Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn, who described it as a "rent-stabilization" model for disadvantaged residents. Earlier this year, the city council passed a "source-of-income" ordinance preventing landlords from rejecting government-issued Section 8 vouchers, which many use to help pay rent.



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