Rent Control Still Not the Solution to Housing Affordability

California Voters Reject Rent Control

The pandemic is intensifying the housing affordability problems that have existed for decades, according to Growing Homes Together, a National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) resource center, however, they are firm in believing that rent control is still not the solution.

In a recent blog post, “Rent Control: The Wrong Prescription Then, The Wrong Prescription Now,” Growing Homes together points outA significant percentage of renters were already struggling before the pandemic. According to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, nearly half of all U.S. renters were cost-burdened, meaning they are spending more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent. A May 2019 report from the Federal Reserve highlighted that 40 percent of Americans didn’t have $400 available for an emergency bill. At a time when incomes have been decimated from this pandemic, these issues are only getting more severe.”

Not the time for politicians to try and advance rent-control agendas

“Naturally, housing providers and elected officials have been looking for smart solutions to keep Americans safe and secure in these trying times. Some, though, are attempting to politicize this moment to take advantage of the crisis and advance their own agendas,” Growing Homes Together writes in the blog.

“Namely, we’re seeing a resurgence of calls for rent control from activists bent on forcing property owners — who themselves are being challenged by this pandemic — to bear the brunt of this crisis. Groups such as Tenants Together have taken even more extreme measures and gone as far to call for rent strikes – yet again demonstrating that they are not above taking advantage of this pandemic to achieve their political goals. Rent-control proposals vary from state-to-state and across municipalities. Some call for cutting rents by 25 percent across the board; others follow in the footsteps of previous failed ballot initiatives already rejected by voters. All of them are built on the false premise that price controls are an adequate solution to a supply-and-demand imbalance.

“Now more than ever, it’s incumbent upon us to find smart solutions to the problems facing working Americans. Many housing providers have taken steps to work with residents to implement rent=payment plans, waive late fees, and freeze rents for 90 days. But the truth is that longer-term rent control would only hinder housing providers from fulfilling their own financial obligations and further endangering apartment communities.

“Make no mistake: Rrent control wasn’t a viable solution to our housing affordability crisis before this pandemic started. And it certainly isn’t any better of an idea now. Instead of pursuing misguided policies like rent control, there’s plenty our leaders in Congress can do to help residents and property owners. To start, Congress should create an Emergency Rental Assistance Program for those who have been impacted by the crisis and do not already receive federal housing subsidies. Additionally, mortgage forbearance protections should be expanded to match any eviction moratoriums to help property owners maintain their residences.

“We all have a role to play in overcoming this crisis. Housing providers will continue to work with residents to keep apartment communities safe and whole. At the same time, elected officials should reject tired and misguided policies like rent control and instead work towards meaningful solutions that address the challenges of residents and housing providers,” Growing Homes Together writes in the blog post.

About the author:

Growing Homes Together (GHT), a project of the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), is a resource center designed to spark discussions at the state and local levels about policy solutions to improve America’s housing crisis. NMHC is a national organization of more than 1,100 member firms involved in the multifamily housing industry.

See related stories below:

What Is Rent Control?

How Rent Control Limits Owner Profits and Maintenance in Portland, Seattle

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