By Sharon Wilson Geno
Our current housing crisis is the result of decades of broken policy and repeated unwillingness to invest needed government resources in housing. The pandemic then drove the cost of housing way up due in large part to dramatic increases in uncontrollable costs, such as insurance and state and local taxes.
Rent control discourages builders from building the amount and the variety of homes needed to keep housing costs in check and upgrading existing homes. Over time, it creates a “worst of both worlds” scenario: It widens the shortage of affordable homes while also causing the existing housing stock to decay and deteriorate.
Moreover, rent control is wildly inequitable. It gives the well-off the same access to rent-controlled apartments as lower-income families who need assistance most. It incentivizes every renter, no matter their income or wealth, to stay in their apartment much longer than they otherwise would, even when their apartment no longer fits their needs. This creates fierce competition for a smaller number of vacant units. Studies shows that rent control supports more upper-income and white renters than those of moderate income and people of color.
This isn’t theoretical; the dynamic has been observed time and again in empirical studies by researchers of all political persuasions.
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