For Immediate Release
March 18, 2018
PORTLAND, ME – On Monday, March 11, 2018, the membership of the Southern Maine chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (SMDSA) voted overwhelmingly to endorse state bill, LD308 “An Act To Increase Notification Time Periods for Rent Increases and Terminations of Tenancies at Will.”
This statewide bill increases from 30 to 60 days the notice a landlord must provide to renters to terminate their tenancy. It also increases from 45 to 75 days the notice a landlord must provide to increase the rent of a residential tenant.
A public hearing will take place on Wednesday, March 27 from 9-12 in the Labor and Housing Committee in the Cross Building, room 202 at the State House in Augusta. Fair Rent Portland (sponsors of a 2017 Portland rent control ballot question) and Southern Maine DSA will organize carpools from Portland for tenants and tenant advocates who wish to testify in support of LD308.
“Housing is a human right, and Maine is one of the least affordable states in the country to rent. This is a modest bill that will help working people stay in their homes longer when landlords arbitrarily decide to sell or renovate their properties with the intention of increasing rents or putting their units into short term rentals,” said SMDSA member and Housing Justice Committee organizer Grayson Lookner.
Eviction is now the number one cause of homelessness nationwide. Homelessness disproportionately impacts veterans, women, and domestic violence survivors. In 2012, one in every 30 children in America was homeless, a number that rises as more families lose their homes to foreclosure and become renters. A growing working class awareness of the ways in which the commodification of housing exacerbates wealth inequality between the landed and non-landed classes has led to the organization of tenants’ unions in cities across the country, forcing legislators to act on behalf of their constituents.
Representative Christopher Kessler (D) South Portland wrote, “From the perspective of Oregon passing statewide rent control, [LD308] is a modest bill that gives renters the time they need to land on their feet when they are being kicked out for no fault of their own, especially in this tight rental market.” In February, the Oregon Senate passed groundbreaking statewide rent control legislation, along with restrictions on termination of tenancy for no-cause.
LD308 echoes municipal legislation passed by the residents of Yarmouth last year. That legislation established a Rental Housing Advisory Committee and required landlords of buildings with ten or more units to give tenants 75 days’ notice for rent increases.
Southern Maine DSA was instrumental in gathering signatures to put this initiative on the ballot after the Yarmouth town council refused to address renters’ concerns over rental stock monopoly and price gouging by out-of-state corporation Taymil Partners. That referendum passed in November 2018 when a recount determined that blank ballots were incorrectly counted as votes against the measure. SMDSA members were among the group that oversaw the recount process.
Democratic Socialism is an economic system in which working people exercise democratic control of the means of production in order to bring about social and economic equality. Democratic socialists reject the concentration of state power. We are not a political party, and we welcome members of any political party who wish to build working-class solidarity across party lines. DSA is the largest socialist organization in the United States. DSA endorses issues that align with its mission of organizing and empowering working class people to stand together to improve our material and social conditions.
For more information about the Southern Maine DSA, this press release, or its endorsement process, contact:
Jon Torsch, Co-Chair Jonathantorsch@gmail.com
Kate Sykes, Co-Chair firstname.lastname@example.org
Wes Pelletier, Secretary DSA.SouthernMaine@gmail.com