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Rent Control Passed in Oregon. Will it Work as a Housing-Crisis Solution Nationwide?

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2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon speaks at a rally for universal rent control in New York City.

For the first time in decades, rent control is under serious consideration by lawmakers across the country. According to a report published last week by advocacy groups Center for Popular Democracy, Right To The City Alliance, and PolicyLink, if rent-control measures pass in all of the states and cities where they’re currently on the table, nearly a third of all renter households in the United States could secure relief from the worst of the housing crisis.

Currently, only four states in the country have rent-controlled units anywhere within their bounds (California, Maryland, New York, and New Jersey—in addition to Washington, D.C.). Thirty-seven have laws actively prohibiting or preempting localities from enacting it. This wasn’t always the case: Responding to mounting real-estate industry pushback, many states adopted such legislation in the 1980s and ’90s, driving the expansion of rent control to a halt. But as rising housing prices continue to send an increasing number of families into instability, poverty, and homelessness, and as nearly half of all renters in the U.S. meet the government‘s standard of cost-burdened according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, states and cities are once again looking to the policy as the most effective short-term solution to the crisis.

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