We Need More Homes…And Stable Ones

As we build new homes, we must be sure that families remain in theirs.

A stable home that they can afford gives families the foundation for success. Kids can succeed in school, parents can remain stable in their jobs, and people’s health stabilizes and improves when Oregonians have safe, stable, and affordable places to call home. As housing costs have risen, this stability of a place to call home has become harder and harder to achieve. The good news is, we have tools to help create this stability for families as costs rise. The solution to Oregon’s housing crisis is multifaceted, but at its most basic, we need to do three things: build more affordable homes, keep the affordable homes we have, and keep existing tenants in their homes.

When housing demand exceeds housing supply, we know we need to build to meet that demand. And when people are struggling to stay in their current homes due to rising rents, we know that rent stabilization is one piece of the solution. Rent stabilization policies keep tenants stable in their homes and communities. It provides a reprieve for renters in overheated housing markets who are facing rent increases due to growing demand from people with higher incomes.

Today’s rent stabilization policies are carefully calibrated to respond to local market conditions and to ensure new development continues. They are a 21st century, measured approach to preventing displacement that helps to create economically stable neighborhoods while allowing landlords to receive a fair rate of return on their investments. Already in place in more than 150 jurisdictions across the country, communities have successfully designed policies to continue to encourage new development and ensure landlords take care of the units while receiving a fair rate of return.

Development of both market and affordable housing cannot be built fast enough to meet jumps in demand, and there may be a natural lag as demand increases—it takes time for the industry to recognize increases in demand and to begin development. When it comes to building housing that is affordable to people with low incomes, it’s extremely difficult to develop these projects without government subsidies.

While these new units are an essential piece of solving the housing crisis, these units won’t be available to people with low and moderate incomes. We know the greatest housing shortages are for people with low incomes, and that new market units do not meet this need.

Increasing the number of units in a region likely will not prevent displacement in specific neighborhoods in heated real estate markets. Building on the outskirts of a city or town will ease the housing pressure in the larger region, but it won’t prevent a family from being pushed out of a suddenly popular neighborhood. Even when new units are being built in an existing neighborhood, these new units are often unaffordable to existing residents, who remain at risk of displacement. Rent stabilization can keep communities strong as new development occurs because it enables current residents to remain in their homes and live alongside their new neighbors..

Rent stabilization and new development are two compatible—and with the right design, complementary—strategies that will work together to help address our housing crisis.