Soapbox

We need common-sense solutions to fix housing crisis, not rent control

A “For Rent” sign outside an apartment building in Sacramento. Mayor Darrell Steinberg is trying to craft a compromise on rental costs.
A “For Rent” sign outside an apartment building in Sacramento. Mayor Darrell Steinberg is trying to craft a compromise on rental costs. AP

Sacramento faces a serious affordable housing problem. The Bee editorial board calls on the mayor, city council, developers and SEIU-backed tenants’ organizations to set aside their differences and forge a compromise that takes aggressive action (“The mayor has a plan to fix the housing crisis. Now he needs help,” Editorials, July 16).

We agree. That’s why our coalition, Citizens for Affordable Housing, is committed to finding fair and common-sense answers.

 
Opinion

As the editorial points out, the devil is in the details. For our coalition, the solution is two-fold: immediate actions that protect tenants, and decisive measures that increase the supply of affordable housing.

We agree on the root cause of the problem: We are not building enough affordable housing. In fact, the Yardi Matrix report cited in the editorial found that Sacramento ranks last in the nation in building new housing stock.

There are concrete ways to help Sacramentans -- especially working families, low-income residents and young people just starting out -- secure affordable housing. We agree that substantial rent subsidies -- from Measure U funds if it passes and other sources -- are critical. And we support longer lease options during which rents cannot be raised, not “pushing” tenants to sign longer leases, as the editorial asserts. To spur construction, we again agree on the need to streamline permits and cut onerous fees.

But the one action guaranteed to fail is imposing a cap on rents.

Whatever you call it, this is rent control. That’s why economists of all political persuasions agree that capping rents leads to a decline in the quantity and quality of rental housing. A recent Stanford University study of rent control in San Francisco, for example, found that it reduced the housing supply and drove up rents citywide.

The stakes are too high to pursue policies that have been shown to fail. We look forward to working with the mayor, city council, tenant groups and community leaders to find real solutions. On this we all agree.

Joshua Wood is CEO of Sacramento Region Business Association and can be contacted at joshua@regionbusiness.org. Bob Ward is business manager of IBEW Local 340 and can be contacted at bward@ibewlocal340.org. Both are members of the Citizens for Affordable Housing coalition.

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