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Why Rent Control is Bad for Chicago

Why Rent Control is Bad for Chicago

This article is a repost of an open letter to State Representative Will Guzzardi, House District 39, Illinois General Assembly:

Why Rent Control is a Bad Idea for Chicago… and Everywhere Else.

Dear Representative Guzzardi:

The Rogers Park Builders Group (RPBG) is a group of property owners and real estate service providers with ties to the Rogers Park community. We are strongly committed to our neighborhood and have a deep commitment to the well-being of its citizens. We take our responsibilities as property owners seriously, and are always looking to forge relationships with our community partners, whether in the business, non-profit, or government sectors.

We read with great interest the news of your recent bill, introduced in the Illinois General Assembly, that would repeal the state ban on the adoption of local rent control laws. We understand that, as an elected official for the residents of Logan Square and other Northwest Side communities, you are looking for ways to minimize the impact on your constituents of recent, rapid increases in rent that have forced many families out of your District. We understand that you represent the interests of your community and want to help your constituents.

We agree that rents have risen rapidly in certain areas, including yours and other high-demand areas of the city. Although rents have not increased as rapidly in Rogers Park, our community has also seen sustained increases over the past several years.

While rising prices certainly result in the displacement of some families, we strongly believe that it is not true that putting legal limits on rent increases would solve the problems of the families who are most impacted by rising rents, the very people you are presumably trying to help with your legislation. In fact, RPBG would argue that any attempt to implement rent control will do more to harm these families than help them.

RPBG tries to represent the views of our members, just as you try to represent the views of your constituents. On the subject of rent control, our view is very clear. Rent control would be harmful in Chicago, just as it has been harmful in other cities that have enacted it. At best, it would offer short-term relief to your constituents in Logan Square and other places that are experiencing high rent increases. However, over the longer-term, it would result in lower-quality housing, reduced construction of new units, and generally higher prices on an average basis. Ironically, the people who will suffer the most if rent control ever becomes law in Chicago are the very people you are trying to help. Studies have conclusively shown that, over time, the people who benefit most from rent control laws are middle and upper-income people.

We present three reasons why we believe rent control would be harmful to your constituents, to the city as a whole, and to any municipality that contemplates adopting it:

  1. Rent Control: It Doesn't Work
  2. Rent Control: It's Not Fair
  3. Rent Control: There Are Better Ways…

RPBG has worked hard to be a good partner in Rogers Park, one of the city’s great neighborhoods. We have worked hard to forge relationships at all levels with a wide cross-section of community leaders. We would be happy to work with you as well on productive efforts to help solve the problem of affordable housing and rapidly rising rents in certain areas.

But we will fight any attempt to use methods that don’t work, or that place this burden exclusively on our shoulders. We call on you to consider our arguments and find a better way to help your constituents. We are convinced that your proposed legislation will accomplish none of your goals. Worse, we are convinced it will hurt your constituents, as it will hurt all of the people of Chicago.

Rent control is unquestionably unfair to property owners. It will make the housing market in Chicago less competitive; it will lower housing quality as property owners are forced to reduce maintenance and repairs in the face of their inability to pass along these costs; ultimately, it will make housing scarcer and more expensive for everyone.

San Francisco and New York are not models for anyone to follow. These cities are among the least welcoming to lower-income families in the country. It is not a coincidence that both cities have had rent control in place for many years. Chicago has avoided this fate by wisely avoiding rent control. We should work together to find better ways to solve the affordable housing problems we face.

Thank you,

Rogers Park Builders Group:
Allen Smith, President
Marty Max, Vice President
Steve Cain, Secretary
Mike Glasser, Communications, Planning and DevelopmentWhy

 

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