New Public Polling Indicates Strong Public Opposition to Rent Control to Address Housing Crisis

Posted By: Christopher Dean Industry,

The Colorado Apartment Association today released the results of a poll commissioned in late March that indicates strong public opposition to the enactment of rent control policies as a solution for addressing housing affordability in Colorado. The results come on the heels of a rent control bill, SB19-225, which the legislature filed on April 1.

The poll, conducted by Baselice and Associates, found that fewer than one in five (19%) of those surveyed selected rent control as their first choice for addressing housing affordability in Colorado. 

Ahead of rent control, respondents’ first choice for addressing housing affordability were public-private partnerships between state or local governments and the private housing sector to create more housing (28.6%) and building more housing and reducing barriers to increase supply (28.2%). An additional 13% of Coloradans supported increasing direct assistance to renters over rent control as their first choice.

“Coloradans want affordable housing, but not at the devastating cost of imposing rent control policies on renters and owners across the state,” said Colorado Apartment Association President Mark Windhager. “Across almost every demographic, Coloradans prefer policies that increase the supply of available housing, rather than implementing a policy that exacerbates an already-challenging problem.”

Decades of research by leading universities and think tanks on rent control policies throughout the United States have determined that rent control reduces rental housing supply, drives up rents overall, leads to blighted properties and neighborhoods, and reduces renter economic mobility. Rent control is widely-acknowledged by economists as a policy that simply does not work.

Gregory Mankiw, Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University, lists opposition to rent control as the number one policy on which economists agree. The American Economic Association found that 93% of its members agreed “a ceiling on rents reduces the quantity and quality of housing available.” 

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and author of “The Conscience of a Liberal,” listed sky-high rents on uncontrolled apartments, the absence of new apartment construction, bitter relations between tenants and landlords, and constantly proliferating regulations as predictable outcomes of rent control policies. Current research on the effect of rent control agrees. 

A study released on March 4, 2019 at Stanford University found rent control policies in San Francisco reduced rental housing supply by 15% as a result of rental properties being sold to owner-occupants or redeveloped for other uses.

“Renters overall don’t even necessarily benefit from rent control,” Rebecca Diamond, an associate professor of economics at Stanford Graduate School of Business and one of the authors of the report, stated in a recent interview on National Public Radio. Diamond recommends other policies for promoting affordable housing.

“Fortunately, more effective solutions are available to address this problem. The Colorado Apartment Association and Apartment Association of Metro Denver has been supportive of a program in Denver called LIVE (Lower Income Voucher Equity) Denver as one creative alternative to rent control,” said Windhager. “Public-private partnerships for developing more affordable housing, particularly along transit corridors, should be at the forefront of our state’s efforts to create more affordable housing units.”

The construction of new rental housing units, in addition to creating high-paying jobs and increasing tax revenue in Colorado, has helped ease the affordable housing crisis.

“As more units have come online here in the Denver metro area, we’ve seen rents stabilize and fall,” said Windhager. “Now more than ever we need to increase the supply of rental housing units, not reduce it, as happened in San Francisco as a direct result of rent control.”

The survey questioned 500 Coloradans, of whom 38 percent identified as unaffiliated/other, 31 percent as Democrat, and 31 percent as Republican. The margin of error to the results was +/- 4.4 percent.

Click Here for Poll Results

About the Colorado Apartment Association 

The Colorado Apartment Association (CAA) is a non-profit trade association representing owners, developers, management companies, and vendors of the multifamily rental housing industry. CAA is comprised of four local affiliates from across the state. The association represents over 3,100 members who own and manage over 282,000 units, which totals more than $60 billion in assets. Together with the local affiliates, the National Multi Housing Council, and the National Apartment Association (NAA), CAA offers a strong network of information, education and representation for the multifamily housing industry.