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Opinion: Avoid the Rent Control Trap

Opinion: Avoid the Rent Control Trap

WynnCompanies EVP Lynn Bora outlines why rent control is the wrong approach to addressing housing affordability in Massachusetts.

Greater Worcester is enjoying a residential boom, with housing demand in all areas outpacing the supply as more Massachusetts residents realize Central Massachusetts has greater affordability than they will ever find in Greater Boston. 

With all the benefits that popularity brings comes the strain of costs and the desire among some to reach for restrictive, even draconian, rent control policies and proposals, which will only further exacerbate the housing affordability crisis. In St. Paul, Minn., for instance, activists succeeded in enacting an extreme rent control initiative capping rent increases to 3% annually, including for newly constructed housing. Already, developers are halting in St. Paul, fearing they will be unable to finance new housing with artificially capped rents.

While we need to urgently address the housing crisis, implementation of an antiquated concept like rent control is not the way to go. Rent control is ineffective and harmful. The high rents in the uncontrolled markets of New York and San Francisco demonstrate rent control benefits very few, and not necessarily those in greatest need, at the expense of the larger community and society. That’s why the majority of states, led by Massachusetts, have wisely enacted laws prohibiting local municipalities from imposing rent control.

The best ways to address housing affordability is to ensure supply can meet demand, as well as targeted government-funded housing assistance.

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