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.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Highly Doubtful about Rent control
    I highly doubt that “Rent control would help Evanston.”

    Rent control has been utilized in several municipalities including San Francisco and NY City, amongst other cities.
    All have been fraught with unintended consequences.
    While a couple of lucky winners benefit, many more are negatively impacted by good intentions espoused by
    proponents of rent control.

    Can someone show Evanston with data and other supporting evidence that rent control works?

    I want affordable housing for residents but am not convinced that rent control is the right policy.

    Populist policies sound good in talks and look good on paper, but many times are ineffective or
    actually harmful in practice.

    Evanston and the State of Illinois have serious problems to address and we need informed, thoughtful
    and serious leaders who are willing to roll up their sleaves and do the tough work, instead of just appealing
    to their base.

    1. Referendum
      Can we please have a referendum on this issue? There has to be some way to communicate the simple fact that no one cares about this issue except a vocal few fighting a losing battle against inevitable housing price increases and a collection of spineless aldermen.

      Taxpayers are tired of subsidizing every terrible public policy choice made by city staff and these elected officials.

      1. Rent Control

        I guess you may have the ability to live large and haven’t experienced the hardships of living on a low income. I hope those fighting to keep some reasonable rents at the forefront of the public continue to do so. Greed has taken over many mind- sets in our country and I’d hate for Evanston to lose its “ heart “ for others.

    2. please please please…..
      GO AHEAD… then finally since our Golden Age of renters becoming 1BR condo buyers with monthly expense far less than renting, we can now resume opportunity for first time 1BR buyers here… as condo conversions would move in on us faster than the Gouletas brothers & sister of American Invesco (miss you, baby!) could buy > paint white > list > close straight up the lakefront with no let-up from Lincoln Park to SE Evanston. Their lending agent was CEO Robert Abboudd at First National Bank of Chicago. Today, it would likely be Chase. And tomorrow (my favorite part) our aging lower middle class walk-up condo owners will finally have a selection of 1BR condos with elevator or fewer steps as a late life plan without moving to Skokie, Niles or back to Chicago.

      Let business do it. Or live and die this way… city councils manipulating low end real estate markets politically and/or philosophically to turn & burn my lower middle class over your lower classes… flipping us like (harlots) and hot cakes on a spot market with the oldest lighthouse on mighty Lake Mich still standing witness to it all.

      MORE 1BR CONDOS!!!

      1. Rent controlled buildings

        Rent controlled buildings are badly maintained and usually have code violations.

  2. Rent Control
    I lived in San Francisco for 20 years on and off- rent control made it impossible for me to continue living there. Its an unbalanced system- the money lost by renting to a tenant living in the same rent controlled apartment for 30 years- paying 300 dollars a month-is then made up for by the new tenant moving in to another apartment in the same building and paying 3000.00 per month. The landlord then does a landlord move in on the old tenant-moves the old tenant out. Where does that old tenant go?
    Certainly can’t afford to rent anywhere else in SF, or even surrounding areas for that amount. Its uneven, and has helped to make it unaffordable, and
    unrealistic. Not to mention that there are no repairs being done during that 30 year period.

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