What about trying rent control here?

Published: 12/29/2018 10:48:17 AM
What about trying rent control here?What about trying rent control here?

I want to thank Joshua Solomon for his thoughtful series of articles covering local perspectives on the affordable housing crisis.

Mr. Solomon interviewed a range of folks with an interest in this “common problem,” and nicely summarized various proposed solutions, including government subsidies, rental vouchers, tax breaks and other incentives to encourage investment in affordable housing projects.

Unfortunately, none of these proposed solutions manages, I think, to address the problem they aim to solve. Housing costs don’t simply rise organically, following the presumed laws of supply and demand; rather, costs rise owing to the various (and often competing) financial interests with a stake in property values. The solutions proposed by our political leadership all reflect this. Subsidies are great for real estate developers, who are thereby guaranteed to earn some profit from their projects. Vouchers are great for landlords, who thereby get more in rent than tenants are actually able to pay. And the city, too, encourages “investment” with the goal of raising property values and thereby increasing its tax revenue.

It seems to me that our political leadership is rather baldly representing the property owners, and not the property-less, on this issue. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. I propose, in any case, that this discussion should include at least some perspective opposed to the notion of profiting from the need for housing. Why, for example, do the words “rent control” not appear in these articles? So long as property continues to be treated as an investment rather than a basic human right, property owners will continue to exploit their neighbors, and the crisis of rising rents will persist.

Andrew Ritchey

Greenfield




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