Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris Enthusiastically Endorses Rent Control

The senator's own San Francisco is a case study in the policy's poor consequences.

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Keiko Hiromi/Polaris/Newscom

Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris shored up her progressive bona fides this weekend by endorsing Oregon's first-in-the-nation statewide rent control policy, which became law last week.

"Earlier this week, [Oregon Gov. Kate Brown] made it easier for families to stay in their neighborhoods by enacting statewide rent control," Harris tweeted yesterday. "No one should ever have to choose between paying their rent each month or feeding their children," the California senator added.

Oregon's new law caps rent increases at 7 percent plus inflation per year, and it imposes new restrictions on landlords' ability to kick out tenants.

The law resembles the rent control system in San Francisco, where Harris was once district attorney. There, the price controls on rental properties resulted in exactly what most economists warn will happen: The supply of rental housing fell, and rents increased citywide.

That's according to a 2018 study from three Stanford economists who looked at an expansion of San Francisco's rent control in 1994. That year the city expanded its already existing rent regulations—which, as in Oregon, capped annual rent increases at 7 percent per year—to owner-occupied rental properties with four or fewer units, which had previously been exempted.

Because this expansion did not cover buildings that were constructed after 1980, the researchers were able to measure the effects of rent control by comparing very similar sets of housing in the same city. What they found vindicated a lot of standard critiques of rent control.

The Stanford study found that pre-1980 rent-controlled small apartment buildings saw a 25 percent decline in the number of tenants living in them compared to post-1980, non-rent-controlled buildings—often driven by landlords buying out or evicting their tenants and then converting formerly rent-controlled units to condos they're able to sell at a market price.

The same study found that tenants in rent-controlled housing were more likely to be living at the same address ten years later, and that they saved anywhere from $2,300 to $6,600 a year on rent, adding up to some $2.9 billion in savings during the period examined in the study. That sounds like fodder for rent-control fans—except that the $2.9 billion saved by tenants in rent-controlled units was matched by a 5.1 percent increase in citywide rents, which cost tenants in non-rent-controlled buildings $2.9 billion.

San Francisco today is one of the most expensive places in the country to rent, with the average one-bedroom rent going as high as $3,000 a month. It also has a persistent and worsening homelessness crisis.

Harris' enthusiastic endorsement of a policy that has failed so miserably in her own backyard is concerning, particularly as the senator has tried to present herself as a bold housing reformer.

Last summer, she introduced the Rent Relief Act, which promised refundable tax credits to folks earning as much as $125,000 per year and paying more than 30 percent of their monthly income in rent. As many pointed out at the time, this would if anything make housing more expensive by essentially subsidizing landlords for increasing rents without actually increasing the supply of rental housing.

There's a broad consensus that high housing costs in and around many of America's urban areas are the result of restrictions on new construction, and the best way of bringing prices down is to get rid of some of those restrictions. Instead, Harris is doubling down on counterproductive measures like poorly designed rent subsidies and price controls.

There's not a lot any president can do about local restrictions on new housing supply. Land use decisions are almost entirely the province of state and local governments. But there is a lot that the feds could do to make America's housing affordability problems worse. If a presidential candidate endorses statewide rent control, it's not a good sign.

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58 responses to “Kamala Harris Enthusiastically Endorses Rent Control

  1. I endorse Politician Control.

    Thanks Founders!

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    2. 40 day waiting period and keep them locked up in a safe once you get them home.

  2. OK, now it’s official. She’s an idiot.

    1. She’s like some kid following mommy around a grocery store. “This! I want this!” “You said last week you didn’t like that.” “I want THIS this week!” Throwing all sorts of crap in the cart, no idea what it even is, but she likes the label and picture on the box.

      1. Hehehe.

        “Alexandria’s Mom let her have one! I want one too!”

        1. Exactly!

          Neither has a clue what they are asking for.

          1. Oh they know. They just don’t care.

  3. I’m curious to see if this ends up driving people out of major cities entirely.

    1. Yes , the landlords.

  4. Any actual reporting going on? Like research into how much real estate she owns? Any rental properties? At least nationwide rent control will keep owners from moving away to get a real return on investment.
    Vote for socialism; it will save the time by not having any more elections.

  5. Rent control, gun control, thought control.
    The usual mantra from the proggies.
    Some things in life never change.

    1. Feudalism FTW!

      1. I can’t wait for the Masons to make a huge comeback when then royal elite need to build castles to keep roving bands of serfs away from their wind turbines without spare parts.

  6. “No one should ever have to choose between paying their rent each month or feeding their children,” the California senator added.

    “No one should ever have to choose between paying their mortgage each month or feeding their pets.”

    “No one should ever have to choose between paying their auto loan each month or feeding their parking meters.”

    “No one should ever have to choose between paying their bookie each month or feeding their habits.”

    1. No one should ever have to choose between Kirk and Piccard

      1. False binary choice. The real answer is Sisko.

        1. Dude was more administration than captain.

      2. No contest there. Kirk every time. Piccard was a self righteous asshole

  7. “Earlier this week, [Oregon Gov. Kate Brown] made it easier for families to stay in their neighborhoods by enacting statewide rent control,”

    Not only easier, but nearly automatic.
    For a while.
    Then the inevitable further result will be those who, for one reason or another, find themselves evicted with little chance of affording the now rapidly shrinking supply of rental units.
    But this is from ‘The Party of Science’, so how could she possibly be wrong?

  8. Results do not matter. Only the satisfying feeling that someone is controlling the market and not letting it run wild matters.

  9. Ye gods. And they want to export that nonsense to Florida, Texas, and beyond.

  10. We should just elect all progressives and let the people have what they want, good and hard. The eventual backlash to a more fiscally conservative and libertarian society will be worth a few years of pain.

  11. Onward Comrade to defeat !!!

  12. The law resembles the rent control system in San Francisco, where Harris was once district attorney. There, the price controls on rental properties resulted in exactly what most economists warn will happen: The supply of rental housing fell, and rents increased citywide.

    Greedy, kulak, landlord wreckers are responsible for this. Government had good intentions!

  13. Hell, we’ve known she was a fool for some time.

    1. But now it’s official.

  14. the average one-bedroom rent going as high as $3,000 a month

    It’s either the average or “as high as.” Which is it?

    1. “The average rent last month was $2,000. This month the average was $3,000. So the average rent recently was going as high as $3,000.”

      1. They better start building some fucking housing there.

        1. Can’t do that!!! What about the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees!

  15. Stupid whore is stupid. And a whore.

    -jcr

    1. Being stupid and corrupt is much less respectful than being a whore. A whore provides a needed service.

    2. Being stupid and corrupt is much less respectful than being a whore. A whore provides a needed service.

  16. The Democrats are all about pandering to the underdog. And while there’s nothing wrong with the underdog, coupling that a gross ignorance of the economics isn’t helping. “Free shit for you” as a campaign tactic is one thing, but “free shit for you” as substantive policy isn’t helping the underdog.

    Plus the Democrats are rapidly losing that demographic as the working poor shifts over to Trumpist populism.

  17. The Supreme Court refuses to overturn any rent control. Last tried in 2012 when they refused to even here it. Do these guys rent when they’re in D.C.?

  18. “Earlier this week, [Oregon Gov. Kate Brown] made it easier for families to stay in their neighborhoods by enacting statewide rent control,”

    Yay for Kate Brown! She stole a portion of the value of rental property at gunpoint from the landlord and gave it to the tenants. What a generous, kind-hearted, noble person she must be. And this isn’t a “taking” why?

    1. She said so.

  19. I am making easily persistently $15k to $20k simply by doing direct work at home. Multi month again i have made $45890 from this movement. amazing and smooth to do work and standard pay from this is bewildering. i have propose each final one of you to join this progress right directly as low protection and get than full time salary through take after this association.

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  20. Trump would be a serviceable / generic center right GOP president if he ever learned a modicum of restraint and avoid the foot in mouth syndrome. He’s a border hawk and won’t stop spending (like every other politician) but he’ll support bits of smart economic policy here and there. With right temperament he would be the sort of pro business republican libertarians mildly approve of.

    The democrat party isn’t quite socialist yet, but the “stars” of their rank are. These are dangerous people backed by lemmings. Look at the rising antisemites in that group. Are these people the resistance for the “racist” Donald Trump?

    1. Whats a little rabid antisemitism between party members, after all. The only confusing thing is why the Democrat party considers itself inclusive.

      1. Democrat demand for no dissension or discussion about any big issue, makes them fascists. They are exactly what they claim to hate.

  21. Who wants to see Harris’ enthusiastic face?

    Put your hand down, Crusty, I already had your name listed.

    1. Kamala’s not rachet enough for Crusty.

  22. If democrat presidential contender Kamala Harris is to support rent controls is she also in favor of government owned housing? She should be! If private owners of housing units can provide a good product should not government owned housing units be even more economical and efficient? Harris should then support a law that would allow the state and local governments to own and rent these housing units. These public owned housing units the politicians could control the rent without affecting private owned unites rent rates. But the private housing unites would have to compete with the public units thus would be forced to have competitive rates or they would be forced to upgrade their units so they could rent them in the uncontrolled markets. That seems to me would be a winner all around. But I doubt that she will support that even though she supports health insurance for all which is quite the same thing.

  23. Democratic socialism is ascendant.

  24. Of course she supports rent control. No shock value here. The latest news of the Dems is the somewhat bizarre strategy of Perez and the DNC. Tom is upset that the Republicans are using the word “Socialist” to describe self identified and campaign labeled Socialists in the Democrat party.

  25. It is always helpful in these cases to imagine that you own some apartments and want to rent them out. What happens if you have a deadbeat tenant? Can’t evict. What if they deal drugs out of your building? Hard to evict. What if they stay forever? Can’t raise rent enough.
    The idea that landlords are all evil, hunched over piles of money like Scrooge McDuck is ludicrous. They provide a service for the 1/2 the population that cannot buy a house. Why are they demonized? From the stories I have heard, I would never own rental properties–too big a risk and too big a headache.

    1. Hey, I like Scrooge McDuck.

  26. Rent control is a pretty bad idea.
    The way to create affordable housing is for each person to earn enough money to pay for their own housing costs. The best chances for that to happen is with a free, thriving and robust market.

  27. lol

    Kamala Harris for President.

    Trump has MAGA: Make America Great Again
    Harris has MASA: Make America Suck Ass

  28. It is official. Kamal has drank the magic cool aid. I lived in San Francisco for a few years. I got lucky and got good places, through friends , with rent control. I knew people paying double. The best example of why rent control is completely fu#$k’d is seeing how it works out. The problem is, everyone wants and thinks they deserve that dream deal. Well over a decade later, I live in the Inland Empire. Much more affordable. I actually own a home, which is what we should encourage people to try and do, rather than promising them pie in the sky. But politicians love this shit, and it gets plenty of delusionals to vote for them. If you are sick of getting ripped off in rent, move to an affordable place! In fact, the best thing you can do is get set up to own your own place, and quit the renting game. But that hard truth is something no Democrat is going to say.

  29. “No one should ever have to choose between paying their rent each month or feeding their children,” the California senator added.

    You want it one way. But its the other way.

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  31. Rent control? Meh.

    Save your outrage for mandated rent-free housing, when all “tenants” get to stay in their apartments for free. Cuz housing is a human right, and no one should have to choose between living like a shiftless leech and sleeping indoors.

  32. The Democrat’s end game is to force us all to share the failure of progressive policies. There’s no escaping high taxes in New York or California, because every state will have high taxes. No escaping the anarchy and crappy schools in Democrat inner cities, because we’ll all be living under anarchy and with crappy schools. No escaping substandard health care, because we’ll all be at the Medicaid level.

    1. The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

  33. I call her Kampala the Kommie Komisar.

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