Mind you, there wouldn’t be a reason to write in defense of it if it were totally dead, and indeed it was a few activists who were talking about reviving it that seemed to have spurred that article. Nonetheless, outside of New York City, that was not a statement many people were ready to argue with.
In many ways, it’s been a long two and a half years since that article came out. But one of those ways is a worsening housing crunch, which in some high-cost areas has led to such a large increase in homelessness that it has reversed the multiyear national trend of homelessness going down.
Along with this, the voices saying that rent control should go back into the toolbox for stabilizing families and neighborhoods have gotten more numerous and loud—and active. It is especially important, rent control advocates note, to establish some sort of stability while we try to rectify the massive lack of supply of permanently affordable housing where the jobs are. There’s a movement in California to get a measure on the ballot in 2018 to repeal the Costa-Hawkins act, which prevents rent control from being applied to buildings built after 1995. It’s not just California—a campaign has begun to reverse legislation in Illinois that prevents local governments from enacting rent control. The national campaign Homes for All, which has been holding renters assemblies around the country, held a meeting on Dec. 18, 2017 to discuss a 2018 campaign on rent control specifically.
I’m glad to see this, since rent regulations are among the most maligned and misunderstood policies out there—in large part because economists like to misrepresent them as a set of simple price ceilings imposed on all apartments (that’s not how they work). If you’re interested in joining this movement, we’ve put together one of our Answer columns on “Do Rent Regulations Make the Housing Crisis Worse?” to help you counter the inevitable push back. If you use it, let us know how!