Montgomery County Democratic executive candidate Royce Hanson and his County Council slate yesterday proposed government-backed measures to alleviate the shortage of moderate-priced housing in the county, but said they oppose the re-imposition of rental control.
Many of their proposals are already under study by the County Council and are supported, as well, by the two other Democratic candidates for county executive.
Hanson called rent controls, which are lifted by the County Council at the close of 1977, "counterproductive." His opponent John Menke, the author of the legislation lifting the controls, has agreed.
But State Sen. Charles Gilchrist, the third Demorcatic contender for the executive nomination, has told tenants that if the trend of "extraordinary" rent increases continues between now and the election he would introduce legislation to put a ceiling on rent increases.
Gilchrist cited statistics that about 12 percent of the rents that have been raised since January have risen 10 percent or more, despite voluntary guidelines asking landlords to hold the increases to 6.1 percent. He said that a ceiling of "the cost of living plus two percent" would be a reasonable limit.
Hanson's slate, which includes incumbent council members Neal Potter and Esther Gelman and candidates Mable Granke and Mike Gudis listed several proposals under which the government would use its bonding authority to help start new apartment construction. "While it is unrealistic to assume that local government alone can bring down housing costs, it is equally unrealistic - and irresponsible - to assume local government should do nothing," they said in a prepared statement.
They called for county revenue bonds to assist private builders in long-term financing. The lower interest rates are paid on government backed revenue bonds they said, could reduce rents by as much as 25 percent.
They also said the county should provide low-interest financing for cooperatives, hire a housing "packager" who would encourage nonprofit housing, establish a low-interest loan fund for rehabilitation of older apartments and set up a low interest fund to help landlords install utility meters in each apartment unit.Individual metering can lower utility costs by as much as third, they said.
The Montgomery state's statement also said they favored "good cause eviction" legislation, a controversial measure that would allow landlords to evict tenents only for specific reasons written in law.
Menke immediately took issue with that idea as one that could seriously hamper the owner's right to manage his building.
"If a landlord had to go to court to prove that someone's kids were tearing up the place, and he needed witnesses and so on to prove it, well, I wouldn't be automatically for that," he said.
In the legislature, Gilchrist said, he has supported bills preventing "retaliatory" evictions.