Oregon’s Progressive Politicians Want Rent Control for All

Oregon is poised to become the first state to enact statewide rent control. The Democrat-controlled state Senate is considering a bill to cap rent increases at 7 points above the annual increase in the consumer price index. Currently, that works out to about 10% a year. The bill also includes tenant protections, such as prohibiting no-cause evictions for anyone who has lived in a property for more than a year. Democratic Gov. Kate Brown supports the bill and says she’ll sign it.

For a state that prides itself on openness to creative policy solutions—mostly progressive ones—Oregon has an appropriate state motto: Alis volat propriis, or “She flies with her own wings.” But with statewide rent control, Oregon’s political leadership might be venturing a little too close to the sun. Virtually every mainstream economist, from Paul Krugman to Thomas Sowell, has condemned rent control as bad policy. Oregon’s problem isn’t rising rents. It’s the lack of affordable housing boosting prices.

. . Average annual rent increases in Portland, the state’s most populous city, hit 9% in 2016—the second highest of any housing market in the country, after Seattle. Since then, things have improved. Zillow reported earlier this month that rents in Portland fell 1.3% in 2018. The city’s construction of 15,000 new apartments since 2015 contributed to the decline.

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