Experts Respond To Biden’s Rent Cap Comments

Housing was barely mentioned in last week’s presidential debate and addressed only by President Joe Biden, not Donald Trump.

Biden pushed recent housing actions as proof that his administration is tackling the affordability crisis, an issue that strikes home for millions of Americans.

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen recently announced new efforts by the Treasury Department to increase the supply of affordable housing. Earlier this year, the administration revealed a Housing Supply Action Plan that billed itself as the most comprehensive effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history.

While White House efforts to push local governments to reform their zoning policies are lauded on both sides of the aisle, one issue mentioned in the debate is less universally beloved: rent caps.

“We’re going to make sure we have reduced the price of housing,” Biden said. “We’re going to make sure we build two million new units. We’re going to make sure we cap rents so corporate greed can’t take over. The combination of what I was left with and corporate greed are the reason why we’re in this problem right now.”

The Housing Solutions Coalition, an anti-rent control group founded by five industry juggernauts including the National Association of Realtors and the Mortgage Bankers Association, responded immediately.

“Decades of academic research from across the United States and around the world clearly show that rent caps – more commonly known as rent control – reduce the supply of available housing and fail to target those renters who need help the most while simultaneously harming other residents and the communities they reside in,” the group wrote in a statement.

“Despite President Biden’s mention of rent caps during the debate, he and his policy experts know that the real reason so many Americans struggle with housing costs is because we need to build more housing. There is no debate. Rent caps hurt renters and communities.”

Others have praised the remark, however. Mark Paul, an economist and assistant professor of economics at Rutgers, posted positive comments on X, formerly Twitter.

“Biden et. al are finally taking the housing crisis seriously. Going on offense to increase supply AND cap rent increases is precisely the type of intervention we need to drastically improve housing affordability & stability.”

He and a group of other academics and economists wrote an open letter regarding rent control in late 2023, arguing that research actually shows rent caps to be beneficial to communities.

“Through well-crafted policies, rent regulations can be designed in a manner that protects the general health and well-being of renters, promotes affordability, mitigates future inflationary episodes, and maintains landlords’ ability to receive a fair and reasonable return on their investment,” it said.

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