The Return of Rent Control

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    • #462326
      • Total Posts: 11,670

      Organizers of St. Paul are not the only ones who are turning to rent control as a necessary tool to combat the housing affordability crisis. Eviction moratoriums and a massive influx of rental assistance helped keep people in their homes during the early stages of the pandemic, but their temporary nature has served to highlight the precarious existence of many renters. Evictions are once again rising, even as, contrary to the sob stories we’ve heard repeatedly through the pandemic, studies have found that landlords collected rent during the pandemic at rates roughly on par as before. (Not to mention that rental relief did little to shift power back to renters. As Tara Raghuveer, the director of the advocacy group KC Tenants in Kansas City, Missouri, recently told The New York Times, “Rental assistance was not designed for tenants; rental assistance was designed to stabilize an industry.”) In neighboring Minneapolis, voters also approved a ballot initiative that would give City Council the ability to enact rent control. In October, the Santa Ana City Council narrowly passed a rent control bill, becoming the first city in Orange County to do so. And Boston’s new progressive mayor Michelle Wu campaigned in part on a platform to reinstate rent control, which was banned throughout the state of Massachusetts in 1994 after a landlord-driven campaign.

      The renewed movement for rent control is pushing back against conventional wisdom. For decades, the dominant perspective on rent control policies has been that they don’t work—and that they actually lead to a loss of affordable housing. This analysis is, as housing organizers have long argued, not only shortsighted, but completely misses the point. Hoang and Swift see rent control as one of many necessary policies to stabilize neighborhoods and prevent displacement of working-class renters of color, now rather than when it’s too late. They recognize the need to build new housing. “We get it, we know that we need housing stock,” Swift told me. “We absolutely need the development. But we don’t want to displace people because of it.” Hoang compares rent control to efforts to increase the minimum wage. “Minimum wage is to labor as rent stabilization is to housing—you just have to have some kind of baseline protection to protect those who are going to be most targeted by discriminatory rental increases,” she said.

      Increasingly, pundits and economists are coming around to that perspective. As Vox’s Jerusalem Demsas wrote recently in a piece on why she now supports rent control policies, working-class tenants can’t wait for a hypothetical future where housing is affordable and in plentiful supply. “It’s become abundantly clear that even if states do begin to build more homes, it will take years if not decades to rebalance supply and make housing more affordable, and in the meantime millions of families will continue to suffer,” Demsas wrote. She concluded, “Without rent control, the losers are people with less money; those who cannot afford increases in rent are forced out of their neighborhoods, and people who can afford them get to stay or move in. Rent control gives policymakers a chance to redistribute the pains of scarcity in the near term.”

      But there are entrenched and very affluent powers who don’t want to see rent control make a comeback. Take California’s multiple failed ballot initiatives to make it possible for municipalities to expand rent control, where housing advocates were outspent two to one by real estate interests. After the results of St. Paul, developers threatened to pull out of projects in the city: a move which Hoang described as nothing more than political scaremongering. Before the pandemic, Hoang worked on a campaign to pass a suite of zoning changes in nearby Minneapolis; in 2019, the city council there approved the plan to eliminate single-family zoning as well as require developers to include a modest amount of affordable housing in new projects. “I remember conversations where developers were like, we are literally leaving the city and never building again if you pass this,” Hoang said. “And it’s 2021, even in a pandemic, we are still seeing record-setting numbers in terms of development permits in the city of Minneapolis.”

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #462360
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 24,441

      I still like the guy who ran for President in 2016 on the Rent is Too Damned High Party ticket.

      Never let your morals stop you from doing the right thing.--Isaac Asimov

      The United States is also a one-party state but, with typical American extravagance, they have two of them.--Julius Nyerere

    • #462362
      retired liberal
      • Total Posts: 4,898

      The greed of the powerful against the powerless. The same basic mind set the the male being dominant vs the female being naturally submissiveness, double standard.
      The thinking that because some think they are superior because of their wealth, or position, they have the Right to subjugate everyone else. The bully mentality, plain and simple.

      We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.
      If Row vs. Wade is overturned, women could lose the right to not get pregnant in 26 states.
      The Republicans are four year olds. The Democrats are six year olds. There are no grownups.

    • #462377
      • Total Posts: 3,496

      A blessing if you need it, and a curse when you no longer do but would never be able to find another apartment at a price even in the same ballpark.

      The opinions and personal views expressed herein are solely those of the author, and should never be taken seriously.

    • #462394
      Utopian Leftist
      • Total Posts: 1,092

      to this issue is that we the people must recognize shelter as a human right. Until that happens, continue to step over the homeless every fucking where you go.

      It could easily be done. Take a few billion from the defense budget and make it Section-8-for-all. By which I mean that every American pays exactly 30 percent of their income on rent. Not a penny more. The gubmint picks up the tab on the rest of the cost of the unit they live in.

      Put the government on the hook for it and watch how fast rents start to fall. Oh, and if the banks raise rents too high, the government must reserve the right to set maximum rent amounts.

      Also, look at what’s happening in Berlin: If a unit sits vacant too long, it becomes property of the state and used as affordable housing. Who does this idea hurt? Only the banks and foreign investors, who are hoarding decent apartments, in order to squeeze ever-higher rents from occupants.

      “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ~ Krishnamurti
      "Given the choice between a Republican and a Democrat who acts like a Republican, the voter will choose a Republican every time." ~ Harry Truman

    • #462475
      • Total Posts: 1,494

      a great deal of the pain wouldn’t exist if wages had kept pace with GDP and/or real inflation since the 70’s.

      Destruction is easy; creation is hard, but more interesting.

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