With rents soaring and evictions taking place across the country, more cities and states are debating rent control


like Rentals and eviction rates across the countryMore cities and states are discussing rent control policies, which housing advocates say are necessary More people are staying at home.

Affordable housing experts say rents in the booming housing markets are in commuter cities It has been It goes up a lot, very quicklywhich puts the greatest pressure on the poorest of the population and Fueling the homelessness crisis in the country.

“The difference between housing and food is that you can eat less, but with housing, at some point you will be homeless,” said Gary Blasey, a Los Angeles-based public interest attorney and housing rights expert. “The market says you can have all the housing you can afford. And if you can’t afford any, you’re on the street.”

California He will vote in 2024 on allowing rent control statewide, after supporters collected more than 800,000 signatures. The state already has one version of the rent control, but it does not apply to buildings constructed after 1995. The new initiative, which failed in two previous elections, would allow cities and counties to include newer buildings.

In Seattle – as shown in the US Census data Rents increased by more than 90% between 2010 and 2020 – The city council voted against implementing rent control measures this month after that The realtors said it would hurt them financially. This measure would have limited the annual rent increase at the rate of inflation.

And this summer, two groups of landlords filed a petition asking the US Supreme Court to strike down New York City’s rent stabilization law, which limits rent increases to more than 1 million units in the city. If the New York law—one of the oldest in the country—is ruled unconstitutional, other rent control laws across the country will become vulnerable.

Many landlords, including apartment associations, have argued that the measures will discourage developers from building new flats and hurt the balance sheets of smaller landlords.

Affordable housing experts point to the fact that current and proposed rent control measures still allow landlords to increase rent, they are placing much needed limits on how much landlords can raise in a given time frame.

said Alex Ferrer, a housing researcher at the Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA.

What is rent control?

Adjusting rents and fixing rents Place limits on how much landlords can increase rent each year. They could be and still are It is often updated by rental dashboardsThat regulates policies in many cities and towns.

In recent years, including places with poor rental stability measures PhoenixAnd NashvilleAnd Las vigasRents have risen by more than 20% on average.

Experts say rent control keeps people living

Ferrer said that in places with higher rents, like New York City and some cities across California, rent control is an especially powerful protection for renters. But even the ca Limit increase 10% It can cause rents to quickly increase to a dollar amount that a tenant can’t afford, if they’re in a unit that’s already too expensive for them, he said.

When the rent rises to an amount that is unrealistic for the tenant, they are often forced to leave their home, as if it had been evicted, housing experts say. Researchers have found that unethical landlords in places with weak protections sometimes raise rents just to get a tenant out of the unit rather than prosecute them for eviction.

Housing advocates say rising rents, evictions and formal evictions are all contributing to the country’s homelessness epidemic. Almost a third of the homeless population in the United States lives in Californiawhich has the largest number of families burdened with rents, according to Blasey.

“It’s much easier to keep someone in the dorm, and it’s much easier to keep them in the dorm than it is to deal with the situation after they lose their dorm,” Blasey said.

Rebecca Chavez, who was part of the unsheltered Inside Safe program but now lives on the streets, holds her cat named Chicote on August 2, 2023. Chavez was part of the program but now lives on the streets in a tent with her husband and cats.

Which cities and states have control over rents?

  • Oregon: In 2019, Oregon became the first state to enact rent control statewide. The law restricts rent increases to 7% plus inflation. In recent years this has meant that landlords are allowed to raise rent by up to 14%, Oregon Public Radio reported.

  • New JerseyNew Jersey has historically had some of the strongest statewide tenant protections in the country, as well as local rent control laws. “There is a concerted effort by landlord groups to get rid of them,” said Rene Steinhagen, director of the New Jersey Appleseed, a public interest law center.

Which cities and states discuss rent control?

In cities and states currently debating rent control measures, Blasey, the housing attorney, said he believes developers will continue to build no matter what, because they can still make money by charging above-market rents to start with in luxury apartments.

For Ferrer, a housing researcher, the uproar from landlords about hurting rent control is hurting their profits, because rent control boards allow landlords to present themselves with opportunities to increase rent beyond rent control limits if their business is hurting. Ferrer said Los Angeles Department of Housing officials said most applications from landlords have been approved.

Rising rents lead to massive turnover of minimum-wage workers

High housing costs are a hard reality for many Americans.

In California, for example, more than half a million residents of Los Angeles County spend more than 90% of their income on rent, Economists found.

Blasey said higher rents in Los Angeles County have forced more residents to move farther east to San Bernardino and Riverside counties, which have historically had lower housing costs.

Minimum wage for workers in Los Angeles luxury hotels and restaurants He often commutes for two or even three hoursAccording to Plassey. He said some hotel cleaning staff sleep in their cars in Los Angeles during the week, away from their children, because it’s impossible to make their three-hour commutes a day.

More remote cities in Southern California have also seen rents rise due to increased demand as more people flock to the area for lower rents, creating a cascading effect of rising rents.

“Where rent inflation is highest in California is not in the big cities, it’s in the cities where renters are fleeing,” Blasey said. “Housing costs are really tearing communities apart and lives.”

This year, the Latino-density municipalities of Maywood, Bell Gardens, and Cudahy in Southeast Los Angeles County Pass their rent control measures to try to curb the problem.

“Elected officials and tenant advocates support tenant protection because they find that despite full-time employment, residents are increasingly unable to cover rising housing costs,” said Robert Desir, a staff attorney with Legal Aid of New York who has worked on city rent. stability law.

This article originally appeared in the USA TODAY: What is rent control? Discussing the laws in California and Los Angeles

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