Former Vice President Joe Biden’s momentum following his South Carolina win on Saturday pushed him over the top after yesterday’s “Super Tuesday” primary, where he now leads the delegate count over Senator Bernie Sanders. Notably, last night, Sanders – who is campaigning on nationwide rent control -- won California and Colorado – two states where rent control is on the minds of voters.
Whether it’s the Presidential candidates or state and local lawmakers, housing affordability continues to emerge as a front and center issue through 2020 and into next year. For this reason, we launched our Growing Homes Together (GHT) initiative one year ago. Through this campaign, we promote national and state-specific solutions. But perhaps more importantly, we use this initiative to fight back against rent control. Through Growing Homes Together and with your help, we can build organizations in every key state and city to serve as a counterweight to those seeking to stifle the housing market with ever more harmful regulations.
We have many fights ahead. Unfortunately, some politicians on the national stage and in major American cities are seizing on this issue and pushing policies that will only make the crisis worse. Chief among them is Senator Sanders, who is unyielding in his desire for national rent control. But he’s not the only person dead set on pursuing wrongheaded policies that would actually drive housing costs up on hardworking Americans:
- California voters will be asked to vote up or down on statewide rent control on the 2020 ballot, just two years after a similar measure failed by nearly 20 percentage points
- State legislatures – even including Utah – are now considering misguided rent control legislation
- Members of city councils from Seattle to Atlanta are increasingly embracing restrictive policies like rent control
In preparation for the 2020 legislative sessions, we commissioned a team of public opinion research experts in the fall, who through focus groups in key locales and a nationwide survey, were able to gain deep insights into how voters are viewing the housing affordability discussion. As a result, we understand the level of frustration of voters, how to talk them back from the ledge and move them toward a saner approach to housing affordability.
Narrative is trumping facts in too many corners of our country, and that requires firm and sustained pushback from leaders in our industry. If we don’t make our voices heard, we’ll lose in the court of public opinion as property owners are scapegoated and painted as villains. The simple us-versus-them binary rent control fanatics use is easy to sell to voters desperate for relief. That’s why I’ve spent considerable time in recent months to set the record straight with the media. For example:
- My piece in the Orange County Register asked for presidential candidates to be pressed on their more extreme proposals
- A letter I wrote in response to a Wall Street Journal editorial demonstrated the flawed thinking behind heavy regulatory approaches
Make no mistake – housing is on the ballot in 2020. Unless we link arms and fight for commonsense approaches together, we will be vulnerable to extreme points of view that are picking up steam among the electorate. The future of our industry hangs in the balance, and the lives of countless American families could be negatively impacted. We need to work together, invest strategically in initiatives we know are effective and speak with a unified voice.
Our industry had a big win earlier this week; our team worked hard to help secure the passage of the “Yes in My Backyard” Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill includes several provisions that would accelerate housing production across the country. But we know our work doesn’t stop there. The facts are on our side. I can’t wait to work with each of you to ensure that sound housing policy gets its due attention on the federal, state and local levels.