Oct 9, 2019

Renter protections on the rise in response to sky-high housing costs

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Reproduced from NMHC; Map: Axios Visuals

California Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday signed legislation capping annual rent increases at 5% a year plus inflation for the next decade.

Why it matters: California is the third state this year to pass major renter protections in response to sky-high housing costs, a surge of homelessness in major cities and an outcry from residents who feel they are at the mercy of greedy landlords.

  • New York State lawmakers increased rent controls in New York City just before they expired, and allowed other towns to do the same.
  • Oregon made big news in March when it became the first state to impose a statewide permanent rent cap of 7% a year plus inflation.
  • In California, Newsom also signed legislation Tuesday that prohibits landlords from rejecting prospective tenants because they have Section 8 housing vouchers.

San Francisco and Los Angeles — where buying a house is increasingly out of reach and residents feel priced out of many rental properties as well — have become embodiments of a national housing crisis.

  • President Trump has repeatedly ripped into San Francisco for the rapid rise of homelessness, last week referring to it as a "tent city."
  • Nationwide, more than 21 million households (about half of American renters) spend more than 30% of income on housing — a threshold that HUD determines to be a high-cost burden.
  • Newsom said rent caps are an important first step in addressing the high cost of housing, but more needs to be done. “We need to build more damn housing,” he said.

The other side: Most economists and property investors loathe rent control, arguing that it stops new construction and discourages landlords from maintaining their properties, causing an already tight supply to deteriorate.

  • "The bill represents the implementation of a failed policy that does nothing to increase the supply of housing affordable to all income levels," said National Apartment Association CEO Robert Pinnegar.
  • "It is no coincidence that three of the nation’s most expensive places to live, including San Francisco, New York and D.C., continue to grapple with housing affordability despite their long-standing rent control ordinances," he continued.

Between the lines: Plenty of academic research over the past three decades shows long-term problems associated with rent control, and local leaders tend to avoid interfering with private property issues.

  • But ridiculous rents mean unhappy constituents. Valuable workers flee to cheaper cities. People end up living on the streets. Rent control is a relatively quick way for lawmakers to take action as tensions rise.

Go deeper: Curbed LA has more details about the new law, including its exemptions.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.