A national group of activists and policymakers is pushing for rent control to protect tenants from skyrocketing rents and displacement.
The new report “Our Homes Our Future,” by PolicyLink Right to the City Alliance and Center for Popular Democracy, says “Leveraging this powerful yet underutilized tool would have tremendous payoff: if the rent control and tenant protection policies being debated right now in states and localities become reality, 12.7 million renter households will be stabilized. If adopted by states nationwide, 42 million households could be stabilized.”
The Oregon Legislature passed this week the first statewide rent control law in the country.
“It is phenomenal what is happening in Oregon. We’re looking forward to having a similar celebration very, very soon,” said Jawanza Malone, a rent control organizer in Chicago.
Chicago doesn’t have rent control. No municipality in Illinois has it. Since 1997, Illinois law has forbidden rent control.
On Tuesday, voters in several Chicago precincts approved a nonbinding measure to lift a state ban on rent control. Voters gave overwhelming support to the ballot question in precincts from the 1st, 26th, 45th and 50th wards. A similar measure was on the ballot last year and received support.
The Lift the Ban Coalition, a network of neighborhood organizations formed in the summer of 2016 to put the brakes on rising rents, helped get the referendum on the ballot.
“Rent control is the most immediate solution to address the affordability crisis — its speed and scale, cost-effectiveness, and ability to protect a huge swath of low-income and marginalized renters are unrivaled,” the report states. “The private rental market has never met the needs of low-income renters and government subsidies have always been insufficient, but a confluence of factors has widened the gap. Over decades, rents have been rising as wages have stagnated.”
Natalie Moore is a reporter on WBEZ’s Race, Class and Communities desk. You can follow her on Twitter at @natalieywmoore.