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Wu's rent control proposal is here — and taking criticism from both sides

Editor's Note: This is an excerpt from WBUR's daily morning newsletter, WBUR Today. If you like what you read and want it in your inbox, sign up here


May we all channel the resiliency of Patrice Bergeron this morning.

Let’s skate right back into the news, shall we?

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said she would have a rent control proposal for us in 2023, and it didn’t take long. She’s floating a plan that would prohibit annual rent hikes higher than 10%. While it’s a long way from the finish line, the plan represents Wu’s first detailed stab at fulfilling a hallmark of her progressive campaign. However, right now it feels like one of those compromises that doesn’t make either side — developers or renters’ advocates — especially happy.

  • The deets: As The Boston Globe first reported, the plan would effectively cap rent hikes at 10% a year, though that ceiling could be lower during low-inflation periods. Buildings that are less than 15 years old and small owner-occupied properties would be exempt from those restrictions. The Boston Herald also reports that the 10% limit would not apply to rent hikes between tenants, meaning landlords could raise the rent more before someone new moves in.
  • An expert’s view: Northeastern University housing policy expert Barry Bluestone characterized the plan to WBUR’s Walter Wuthmann as a “gentle proposal” that would protect many existing renters from “exorbitant” increases.
  • Developers’ view: In a statement, Greater Boston Real Estate Board CEO Greg Vasil broadly blasted rent control as a “failed” policy that would discourage needed development in the city: “Limiting housing construction now, when the BPDA permitted the lowest number of units in 2022 than it had in nearly a decade, would only exacerbate the city’s housing crisis.”
  • Renters’ view: In a series of tweets, Mike Leyba, head of the local tenants’ rights group City Life, said Wu’s “proposal would be among the weakest rent control policies in the nation” and pledged to organize against it.
  • What’s next: Wu’s office says they’re still fleshing out the details before formally proposing a home rule petition to the City Council. Due to the statewide ban on rent control, the plan would also need sign-off from the State House and Gov. Maura Healey.

The national shortage of infant and children’s pain medicines, which has undercut store supplies of products like Tylenol and Motrin, is now affecting local hospitals. Wuthmann reports that Boston Children’s Hospital — squeezed by the shortage of children’s acetaminophen and ibuprofen — has been forced to switch to ordering cold medicine in bulk, rather than their usual individual dose orders.

  • How we got here: Doctors say the shortage is due to the surge in respiratory illnesses like RSV and COVID in the last few months. The country’s biggest pharmacy chains, CVS and Walgreens, have even had to put purchase limits on children’s pain relief products.
  • Advice for parents: Boston Children’s pharmacist Shannon Manzi told Wuthmann that parents should check local corner stores and pharmacies for cold medicine. “Sometimes it’s the smaller stores that actually still have the supplies of these,” Manzi said.
  • The good news: With COVID and RSV rates now dropping, Manzi said she’s starting to see cold medicine supplies increase again.

Concerning news for recreational fisherman who eat what they catch: A new nationwide study found that freshwater fish contain an average of nearly 280 times more PFAS chemicals compared to store-bought fish. Tasha Stoiber, one of the study authors, told WBUR’s Gabrielle Emmanuel that “even infrequent consumption” of freshwater fish — say, four meals a year — could double the amount of PFOS (one of the more common PFAS chemicals) in your body.

P.S.— It’s never too early for a snow map. As the rain this afternoon turns to snow tomorrow in some parts of Massachusetts, here’s a look at the snowfall estimates from the National Weather Service.


Related:

Nik DeCosta-Klipa Twitter Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.

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