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"The economists are right, and the populists are wrong." That's the frank conclusion of The Washington Post Editorial Board on the subject of rent control.
"Rent-control laws can be good for some privileged beneficiaries, who are often not the people who really need help. But they are bad for many others."
The editorial uses recent laws approved by the states of California, Oregon, and a policy proposal from the presidential campaign platform of Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) as the inspiration for the opinion.
The editorial cites evidence like a March study from researchers at Stanford University that shows rent stabilization efforts in San Francisco to be ineffective. Here's how the editorial describes that evidence:
It’s true that the policy kept some residents’ rents lower. But landlords responded by converting their buildings into condos they could sell or business properties they could lease without rent-control restrictions — or by demolishing their old buildings and replacing them with new ones that did not qualify for rent stabilization. Effects such as these drove down the supply of rental housing and, therefore, drove up rents across the city — by 5.1 percent.
The key to making housing more affordable in the long run, according to the editorial, is to build more homes.