Note: This letter to the editor was originally published in the April 21 print edition of the Forest Park Review.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Lower rent. The truth about rent control everywhere it has been enacted is it drastically reduces supply of rental units and causes massively high rents. It drives out smaller housing providers and sends responsible developers looking elsewhere. It is a failed experiment and almost all states have a ban in place for this reason.
In Forest Park and surrounding areas, housing providers are tiny landlords. They are your friends and neighbors who own the three-flat on your street. Characterizing housing providers as “big business” is misinformation. Placing limits on the price of housing without placing limits on costs (my water bill doubled this year) afflicts your community with housing which cannot be maintained.
The answer instead is to provide more housing supply, thereby lowering rents and raising our tax base. Of more help would be addressing income inequality. Some of our poorest pay more than half their income on housing. It’s awful, and rent control will make it worse.
Forest Park’s plan to lower rental housing density also contributes to high rent levels. Rents rise when supply is low, much like the supply issue behind our current skyrocketing purchase prices. Even Chicago recognizes that more housing means lower rents with their ADU program which encourages building of Accessory Dwelling Units (like coach houses and basement buildouts) to create more rental units, changing the supply and demand equation. Similarly, asking new developments to have less units which are larger is misinformed. No evidence exists that 3-bedroom units attract better neighbors than 1-bedroom units. The new proposed development at Harrison and Thomas is an example. By insisting on less and larger units, we once again raise rents by hampering new development and raising the cost of building new units.
Also relevant is that Forest Park is not a home rule community and will not be able to enact a rent control law.
Let’s use facts, basic economics, and a little common sense to address lack of affordable housing. PROTECT AFFORDABLE HOUSING—contact your State legislator today to oppose HB 116.