If not, then in what measurable ways has life gotten better for renters in the city since 1995?
Here's one stat, although it takes a couple different sites to put them together. The murder rate has fallen by more than 50%. Boston today is considered a substantially safer city than in 1995, as the early 90's were basically the most dangerous time in recent American history from a violent crime perspective.
The execution-style slayings of four young men in a basement music studio this week cast a spotlight on a crime wave that has pushed murder in Boston to a 10-year high. While the murder rate nation…
Crime in Boston, Massachusetts (MA): murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, burglaries, thefts, auto thefts, arson, law enforcement employees, police officers, crime map
Basically, in 1995, the suburbs were still preferred over the cities, which were generally considered too dangerous. Those preferences have flipped on their head in the last decade (aside from the covid blip). So in that sense, demand is significantly higher today, whereas I'm not sure there's a single year in the last quarter century where Boston built enough to meet these additional demand levels. Even the last few years, by far the biggest boom in my lifetime, have come up woefully short of the residential numbers needed to ease prices, and instead added high-paying jobs without the housing to accommodate.
So when you see a 190' lab built next to South Station instead of a 600' residential, or a 350' blob office tower at 1 Bromfield instead of a 709' residential, or a 600'+ residential combined with a 240' residential at Parcel 15 or whatever get cut into a single 500' residential that lost 2/3 of the total units, and then get cancelled... Well, you get the idea. We don't build enough of the right uses in the right places, and too much of the wrong uses (ie let's add another lab instead of addressing housing, because since height isn't allowed labs are more profitable).
When it comes to supply and demand there are 2 ways to address it. Either actually build enough supply so keep the existing stock affordable (ie what affordable housing *should* be instead of forcing huge percentages of it into brand new units) or make the city such a lousy place that people don't want to live there anymore, easing demand and also prices that way. Rent Control is a step in that 2nd direction, backwards, but for a few people it will be like winning the lottery if they get locked into those units. (or maybe not, since in this case landlords are pledging to raise rents by the max allowed every year to offset risks)
Again, this is the crux of what always happens when government meddles too much to "fix" something:
Unintended Consequences Outweigh Benefits
Come back to this conversation in 5 years and we'll see how the numbers bear out. IMO between this, the new measure that incentives millionaires to leave, and the new measure that gives out drivers licenses (thus legitimizing) illegals, the whole state is going to circle the drain for the next few years until these are all repealed. It's called killing the golden goose and it's happening right before our eyes.