Some affordable housing advocates here are saying the city should impose rent control, and Evanston's gubernatorial candidate, Daniel Biss, is pushing legislation that would repeal a state-wide ban on the concept.
So a new study from researchers at Stanford University may be of interest.
It says that rent control in San Francisco -- while it has helped people who've scored rent-restricted apartments -- has also reduced the overall rental housing supply by 15 percent and triggered a 5.1 percent increase in average rents across the city.
The San Francisco rent control regime, when expanded by referendum in 1994, applied to smaller multifamily apartment buildings constructed before 1980.
Because units built more recently were not included, it created what researchers called a "natural experiment" in which the newer units acted as a control group.
They found that landlords responded to the loss of income by taking properties off the rental market and either moved in themselves, converted them to condos or tore the buildings down to replace them with new units that wouldn't be rent controlled.
Rebecca Diamond, a co-author of the study, suggests landlords shouldn't have to bear the entire costs of subsidizing tenants -- that the cost should be shared more broadly across society, through a tax credit or government subsidies to protect low and moderate income families against large rent increases.
Biss, in a press release last month, called the statewide rent control ban "a moral disaster" that leaves families "vulnerable to the whims of landlords and unregulated rent increases."
Meanwhile, a new report in Governing magazine says the tax legislation pushed by President Trump and adopted by Congress late last year is likely to make the shortage of affordable housing even worse, by reducing the value of tax credits used to fund much affordable housing construction.