Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Repeal the state’s profit-oriented ban on rent control

On November 2, 2021, Albuquerque residents made history by winning the $50 million New Mexico United Stadium loan that would see construction of a football stadium in one of Albuquerque’s historic neighborhoods by a nearly 2-to-1 margin defeated. The message was clear: New Mexico’s working-class residents are not being displaced for profit.

Politicians across New Mexico were clearly caught off guard by the resounding loss. The defeat was only part of a much larger struggle. Stadium development is just one recent example of an urban planning process being led by top-down corporate interests and their political allies in our country. As was made clear during the stadium bond campaign, months of behind-the-scenes work were done prior to the election to draw up plans for the stadium development project and to implement those plans with a minimum of public participation. The individuals pushing this agenda clothe their language in terms of justice and equity. However, the focus of their efforts is to push low-income New Mexico residents out of their communities and attract higher-paying residents. In a word, their goal is gentrification.

The question on every resident of our state is, “Who has the right to call New Mexico home?”

Does New Mexico’s industrious majority, as well as those who are disabled or retired, have a right to live in this city without being driven away by rising prices? Or will New Mexico be the next state where only the wealthy can afford to live?

Central to the fight against gentrification is the fight for affordable housing. In 2020, the median rent increased dramatically across New Mexico. In 2021, rents skyrocketed well beyond 2020, pushing many into poverty and chronic homelessness. Renting is the only option for many as apartment prices are also skyrocketing. Home prices are at historic levels across our state. The result is that large segments of New Mexico residents, particularly the most vulnerable, are being rapidly displaced due to rising rents.

Nationwide we are facing a crisis and rents must be brought under control immediately. New Mexico is one of 37 states that ban rent controls. This is accomplished through a law passed in the early 1990s that prohibits local communities from democratically enacting rent regulations or controls. The statewide ban on rent controls in New Mexico means landlords and developers are free to gentrify our communities and displace residents for profit.

It’s critical that New Mexico unites in a movement against gentrification and for the right to safe, affordable housing. To that end, the Peoples Housing Project and our allies will demand that our legislators repeal the New Mexico statute prohibiting rent controls.

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