What you said about what we said last week
When more than half a city’s apartments are subject to rent control laws, but the laws allow exemptions for an untold number of landlords, how controlled is that rent? Not very, argued Aaron Wiener in last week’s cover story. Wiener explored loopholes that allow landlords to hike prices beyond what the law would typically permit and the buyouts facing tenants if they cannot pay the new rent—buyouts that aren’t always a great deal for the tenants or the city.
A few readers chimed in with some of the typical hyper-capitalistic jawing about how poor people are bad and deserve nowhere to live. (“Move if you can’t afford it!”, etc.) Others were more nuanced. Confused agreed that the entire rent control schema is flawed: “Sounds like what is needed is a) some formalization of the buyout process, b) code enforcement so poor maintenance is not used to move people out, c) counseling on housing choices, including buying, and d) some payment by the landlords to the city affordable housing fund, both to pay for the cost of the counseling program and to help create more AH units (with actual income caps, unlike the rent controlled units).
Tom Veil advocated the doing away of rent control altogether, writing, “Both in reports like this and in sociological studies, we have the research to know that rent control laws just plain don’t work. If we as a society still believe that poor Americans deserve a roof over their heads, the solution is not to double down on rent control. The solution is to try something completely different. I would support experimenting with Guaranteed Minimum Income, government housing vouchers, removing the zoning restrictions on purely residential projects, and improving public transit to outlying neighborhoods…I think they’re all worth a shot.”
On the other end of the spectrum, gob got all #slatepitch-y with support for a higher guaranteed return for landlords: “12 percent return in a city with such tenant-friendly and strict laws is not enough. It should be way more to deal with biased tenant laws.” OK!
And some readers were apparently pleased with themselves just for making it through a 5,000+ word story on rent control. “Wow,” tweeted @KDunntweets. “Aaron Wiener made rent control policy possible to understand and interesting. #Pulitzer.” Thus far the Pulitzer hashtag has yet to attach itself more broadly to the story, but glad you liked it, @KDunntweets.
Jessica Sidman’s column on the return of the post-recession lavish office holiday party to D.C. bars and restaurants drew surprisingly little snark from the Washington City Paper–reading public. Apparently no one begrudges K Street firms from renting out eateries to the tune of $30,000 and outfitting them with fire eaters. Only Novatronic got sassy in the comments: “Always fun to see lawyers who came here from Palookaville, Ohio puking on their sensible shoes.”