Affordable housing and its providers disappeared.

An Asian American woman stands in her doorway holding a broom, wearing work gloves and glasses.

Hong Lu was forced to rent rooms at below cost.

The nonprofit Cambridge YMCA rented rooms for $450.

Because Hong spoke English as a second language, she could not advocate adequately for herself before the rent board.

She was ordered to rent her rooms for $250 (around $600 in 2023), below market and below cost.

She had to borrow money to pay her bills.

If she hadn’t, she could have been sent to jail like Emil and Donna Javorski.

A man comforts his wife who is racked with sobs, face contorted as she sits and hears the rent control board's guilty verdict.

Emil and Donna Javorski were convicted for not living in their house.

Under rent control, it was a crime for a landlord not to update their address with the rent control board.

The Javorskis were initially owner-occupied exempt, then had to move.

The rent board found out before they filed their change of address form.

What appears to be a male person in silhouette sits for the photographer. Backlighting prevents us from seeing their face or any features.

This man was going to be convicted for the exact opposite: for living in his house.

Under rent control, it was a crime to live in a condominium that you owned.

It had to be rented.

This man and others showed up to protest city council hearings with paper bags over their heads.

If their identities were revealed, they would be arrested.

This is a real photograph of a “condo criminal,” taken for a landlord newsletter in 1990.

A newspaper clipping from June 6, 1991, shows George Tarvezian Jr. was found guilty of causing a unit not the primary residence of the legal owner to be vacant for 120 days or more by refusing to rent or offer to rent such unit in good faith without cause.

George Tarvezian was sentenced to six months in jail for vacancy.

Under rent control, it was a crime not to rent your units at all, even if you weren’t able to.

In 1991, the rent board ordered the Cambridge police to arrest George Tarvezian.

He served six months in jail and paid a fine of $3,000 ($6,600 in 2023).

A small brick mixed used building sits on a corner in Cambridge. Few details are visible in the old, grainy photograph.

Roberta Dowling was fined $25,000 for not renting an apartment fast enough.

This was her building.

Under rent control, landlords had to complete any renovation or tenancy search in less than 120 days.

In 1990, she rented the apartment, but only after more than 120 days.

She was fined $25,000 ($60,000 in 2023).

A newspaper clipping shows Steave Meacham and another hoisting a sign reading eviction free zone over the entrance to a building owned by John McAdams. The story describes an arrest warrant issued for McAdams, who is wanted for leaving apartments vacant.

John McAdams had his property broken into by the police, who placed squatters there.

Like George, John refused to rent this property out below cost.

Instead of sending him to jail, the rent control board took possession of his property.

The Cambridge police assisted squatters in breaking into this building and setting up camp there.

The squatters were not removed during rent control.

A small, hand restored two family building sits with wood clapboard siding, steps up to two front doors and mansard roof.

Vincent and Laura Bologna were bankrupted.

They bought this two-family at 310 Harvard St. in Cambridge.

Their renters, Marie and Krenie Stowe, convinced the rent board it was actually an eight unit rooming house subject to rent control. 

Never mind that the Stowes were subletting the rooms and charging market rents themselves.

The Bolognas were fined $64,010.82 in 1992 dollars, and ordered to pay the Stowes’ attorney fees of $30,000.

In 2023 dollars, this fine was $202,335.96, more than they paid for the property.

They declared bankruptcy.

A newspaper clipping with one section superimposed over the rest of the article, confirming Peter Petrillo had a heart attack three days after the board ruled against the family.

Peter Petrillo was killed.

His story is told in a future chapter.

A sign on a building reads "Welcome to Cambridge. Abandon hope all ye who plan to buy property here. Beware of Rent Control!!"

All of these landlords stopped providing housing.

The housing they did provide is no longer owned by small landlords.

Chester Cooper painted his house with a sign, warning others to avoid a similar fate.