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Protest seeks to overturn state's ban on rent control

Albuquerque rents have risen more than 40% since March 2020, according to a report from Apartment List. But implementing rent control is not an option because there’s a statewide ban. Advocates came together Monday pushing for a reversal.

Around 40 protesters with the People’s Housing Project gathered on the Civic Plaza demanding more affordable housing and a removal of a ban on rent control.

That could impact about a third of Albuquerque residents who are currently renting says law Professor Serge Martinez from the University of New Mexico.

The ban stems from Law 8A which was passed by the Legislature in 1991. It states that no municipality in New Mexico is allowed to establish rent control. New Mexico is one of approximately 37 states where rent control is prohibited.

Advocates said this gives too much power to landlords and leaves many Albuquerque residents such as Heylin Payaso and her daughter, Kalisia, on the streets without a home.

"For years we’ve been homeless," said Kalisia. "We got our apartment and we don’t want it to be taken away."

"It took me a long time to get my apartment and it's just really complicated to have notices put on my door saying the rent's gonna be raised," said Payaso.

Advocates want the Albuquerque City Council and Mayor Tim Keller to pass a resolution demanding the state legislature overturn the ban. Martinez says removing the ban on rent control is a first step to address rising housing instability.

"It's frustrating to see that this decades-old law that hasn't really been thought about since it was passed, is now hamstringing places like Albuquerque."

He adds that New Mexico simply doesn’t have enough housing for people and what houses are available are too high for low income residents.

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