Takoma Park Expels the Poor

There’s a pathetic story in the Gazette this week, putting another face on the housing crunch in the county. In this case, it’s the city of Takoma Park doing its best to force people to live elsewhere.

Here we have a hard-working family renting out apartments in two buildings, but after 25 years, can’t afford to rent the apartments anymore. The city has rent control, you see — the bane of housing wherever it has been implemented. Takoma Park’s version is particularly restrictive; base rents are set at 70% of the CPI (consumer price index). As the costs of taxes, repairs and maintenance, and utilities have skyrocketed, therefore, they are not allowed to raise rents to keep up with expenses.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the family is having a hard time selling the buildings. Who is going to operate a business that is commanded to lose money? Either the buildings will go condo, or be shifted to a different use. The people who are paying $550 per month for a one-bedroom apartment will probably have to move elsewhere. If the city keeps strangling the rental market, the residences in Takoma will become more heavily weighted towards owners, as the city keeps forcing renters to move elsewhere. The mandate from Takoma Park is clear: “Go away, poor people. We don’t want you here.”

Explore posts in the same categories: Housing, Regulation, The War on the Poor

3 Comments on “Takoma Park Expels the Poor”

  1. Ron Says:

    Wouldn’t it be funny if this was their way of getting rid of illegal aliens?

  2. angie Says:

    The new rent stabilization law proposed by the City of Takoma Park, which will be vetted at a public hearing this evening, may take some by surprise. The law proposes changing the exemption rule, which currently exempts those landlords who only own one rental unit in the city. At prior meetings it looked as if the Council was ready to offer some relief to owners of small buildings by exempting properties of four or fewer rental units. However, the tie breaker vote goes to Terry Seamans, who had earlier exempted himself from the discussion because he’s a landlord. Terry has gone the other way. That sigh you hear echoing through the leafy canopy of the city is the last hope of small-building owners dying on the vine.

    The new law proposes to exempt only those facilities that have only one housing unit on the parcel of land (i.e. single family homes but NOT condos). This is helpful for those real estate moguls who own many houses in T.P., but not so much for those who own condos or small apartment buildings (not sure about town houses). Once again, the city puts the squeeze on the little guys; those real estate investors that had a little bit of money and could just afford a condo or small building. The small-time landlords, who don’t have economy of scale to manage their properties efficiently, must support the “affordable housing” dreams of the Mayor and half the city council. And they are dreams. You have got to be dreaming if you think the “affordable housing” stock in the city goes only to those who need it. Yes, some tenants are deserving and should not be displaced. And more housing is needed in this county for low-income families. But Takoma Park doesn’t provide it.

    Let me give you a scenario: You own a small apartment building. You run it yourself. You do your own repairs. You collect your own late rent. You take the day off from work to go to court yourself when your tenant falls behind. You have five applicants for your vacant two-bedroom apartment. Are YOU going to rent it to the one with the lowest income?

    Mayor Porter, your affordable housing dream is a myth. You continue to propagate the lie of affordable housing with a new law that does nothing to assure affordable housing for those who need it and very little to offer relief to the owners who offer it. The new law is pretty slick, though. It does cover you for those “fair return” lawsuits, doesn’t it?

    Give me a break.

  3. Zinzindor Says:

    Bravo, Angie. Just one quibble. You keep saying that Takoma Park “doesn’t provide” housing for low-income families, and it “does nothing to assure affordable housing.” That is understating the case.

    Takoma Park — as seen in this law — is actively working to *reduce* the stock of affordable housing. The only question: is it deliberate, or just dumb?

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