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Readers React: Places with strict rent control have housing shortages. That’s not just a coincidence

Pedestrians walk by a for lease sign in San Francisco in 2015.
Pedestrians walk by a for lease sign in San Francisco in 2015.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

To the editor: The March 1 editorial concerning rent control rightly recognizes that the root cause of the housing affordability crisis is the lack of supply. However, the measure adopted by Oregon lawmakers implementing statewide rent control will only further strain housing supply shortages.

The rent cap model enacted in Oregon has proved to be a failed policy elsewhere. If the caps are too high, they do not support the goal of increasing affordability. If the caps are too low, then development contracts.

San Francisco passed similar legislation allowing for annual increases capped at 7%. Over time, lawmakers consistently intervened to tighten the cap, and it now stands at just 60% of inflation. San Francisco is now the most difficult market in the country in which to create housing.

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Tackling the housing affordability crisis requires holistic solutions that include policies that encourage more housing supply, public-private partnerships and increased direct assistance to renters.

Doug Bibby, Washington

The writer is president of the National Multifamily Housing Council.

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