Students in Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government have been working on a new way to save rent-free apartments from the whims of landlords, and now the school’s president is trying to convince Harvard’s city council that the new model is a viable solution.
The proposal would allow landlords to raise rents for up to four months from the beginning of the semester to ensure that they’re paying their tenants properly, but the Harvard Graduate School of Management’s president, Dean M. James, said in a statement that the plan is not intended to be a solution to rent control, but rather an opportunity to make the process simpler.
“The Harvard Graduate System is committed to finding solutions to housing affordability issues that are most effective, sustainable, and fair for all tenants and their families,” James wrote.
The plan would require landlords to rent a building for four months before raising rent, but rent-stable apartments could be offered at a rate of one month rent, or as little as one month’s rent if tenants are able to pay for the units themselves.
The new model would also provide a temporary lease for tenants who can prove they are paying rent in a certain amount of time.
“It would be in everyone’s interest to see rent control removed from the equation,” James said in the statement.
“At a time when rents in some cities are rising more rapidly than in many others, we are looking to make it easier for tenants to secure a rent-controlled apartment without having to rely on a rent control application.”
The plan, he said, “would not solve all of the housing challenges in our city, but it is an important first step in addressing a number of housing needs that we have identified.”
The housing shortage in New York City, for instance, is so severe that one-third of the city’s affordable housing units have been vacated by tenants in the past year, according to a report by the New York Times.
“If landlords can’t afford to keep the units, we can’t keep the rent,” said David Hirsch, the Times’ resident organizer in New Jersey, who helped craft the report.
“Rent control is a way to protect renters from landlords that want to evict them.”
Harvard is also looking to develop a new model to support the rental housing market, as part of a broader effort to help tenants secure affordable housing, according the statement, which also calls for a new “housing finance system that is more equitable, transparent, and affordable.”
The idea is to create an “interagency system that can better coordinate the development of affordable housing and to improve affordability for tenants and renters in the future.”
“While we are focused on addressing our housing affordability challenges in New England, we will continue to support efforts to address housing issues in cities around the country,” James added.
The Harvard Graduate Student Government has been working to develop solutions to the housing crisis, which has been exacerbated by the rise of the Airbnb and other home-sharing services.
Airbnb is now the largest platform for hosts in the United States, and according to data from the company, more than 20 million hosts have registered in the last five years.
The University of California, Berkeley, is also currently developing a pilot program to allow students to rent out their apartments, with a goal of creating a model for the whole country.
Harvard University’s president has also been working closely with the city of Berkeley, which last year passed a law that will allow landlords and apartment owners to raise rent for up for four weeks from the start of the academic year, but there are concerns that the law will lead to increased competition and increase rents.
“Our goal is to provide our students with a secure rental housing solution that will make it easy to find housing,” James told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Harvard student government, however, is not interested in helping landlords make rent-increasing decisions for students who are paying full rent. “
I believe this model will be an effective way to create affordability for our community.”
The Harvard student government, however, is not interested in helping landlords make rent-increasing decisions for students who are paying full rent.
“To the contrary, we believe this program will be a positive way to help landlords to make decisions that are more in their best interest, rather than forcing landlords to increase rent,” James explained in the Harvard student group’s statement.