As states like New York, California and Oregon have passed various measures of rent control measures and as top progressive lawmakers such as Senator Sanders and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called for national “rent caps,” the Wall Street Journal editorial page recently published a piece that undercuts the idea that rent control will do anything to solve the housing affordability challenges the nation faces.
The Journal, correctly, points out that the vast majority of economists, from both sides of the aisle, don’t believe in rent control. They write:
“Economists of all stripes agree rent control doesn’t work. A mere 2% think it has positive effects, according to a 2012 survey by the IGM Forum. In other contexts Bernie might cite that statistic as proof of settled science. No less definitive are the in-depth studies. An analysis last year of San Francisco’s 1994 rent-control initiative found that the landlords it affected “reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase.”
Rent control is not a real solution. It is only a short term band-aid that does nothing to deal with the underlying trends that have led to the problem. Lawmakers need to tackle this challenge with the seriousness it deserves, not tried-and-failed policies that make for a good headline and nothing more.