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Public hearing on proposed CT rent cap draws hundreds of responses from landlords and tenants

At a public hearing in Hartford on February 21, 2023, tenants and landlords shared their reaction to proposed legislation that would cap rental increases. (L-R) is Juan Fonseca and Carmen Lanche.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
At a public hearing in Hartford on Feb. 21, 2023, tenants and landlords shared their reaction to proposed legislation that would cap rental increases. Above are Juan Fonseca (left) and Carmen Lanche.

Tenants and landlords shared their reaction to two related proposed bills aimed at addressing rent stabilization.

One of the proposals would restrict landlords from increasing rent during the first year of leasing and cap rent increases at 4% on top of the consumer price index.

Over 160 written testimonies were submitted for the public hearing of the bill on Tuesday.

Cori Mackey, the lead organizer for the Greater Hartford Interfaith Action Alliance, said that it is important to pass a rent cap because those most affected are children, single mothers and people of color. She believes that the business model approach is predatory.

“So many people in my shoes get 30 days, 60 days’ notice that their rent is going up $200, $300, $400 a month,” Mackey said. “They need to absorb that on top of the increased gas and food [and] utilities prices. So this is impacting residents across the state.”

Lauren Tagliatela, who works at her family’s rental business, Franklin Communities, countered, saying companies should be free to set prices they think the market will bear.

“I think they’re entitled to that type of business model if that’s what they want to use,” Tagliatela said.

Mackey argues that investors from New York and New Jersey are buying many apartment buildings and multifamily homes, resulting in increased rent.

Tagliatela said housing and economic growth are connected, and Connecticut still needs to increase housing supply to meet demand.

Higher rental rates impact women and communities of color disproportionately. A study by CTData says that between 2017 and 2021, Black and Hispanic/Latin American renters experienced the highest rate of eviction case filings. And 62% of those filings against Black renters and 59% of filings against Latin American renters were in homes headed by women.

Data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says that 30% of Connecticut's population is extremely low-income, and to afford a two-bedroom rental home at HUD's Fair Market Rent would require an income of at least $57,820.

Carmen Lanche, director of Comunidades sin Fronteras, said she helps 500 families, and in the last weeks, her organization has extended aid to 100 more households.

“The big construction companies are buying the estate. People must go to other cities because they can't pay that high rate,” Lanche said. “Families are being displaced, children have to change doctors and schools and are anxious.”

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Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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