As a South Shore resident for 15 years, a constituent of the 25th representative district, and a renter, I am compelled to respond to Rep. Tarver’s recently published comments in the last issue of the Hyde Park Herald.
To begin with, rent control works. There are a number of recent studies from the University of Southern California, Columbia Business School, Stanford University, and others that highlight the ability for residents to remain in their homes and communities - while also allowing real estate development to flourish.
Secondly, the legislation Rep. Tarver voted against would simply allow municipalities to debate the merits and shortcomings of rent control as one of many tools to address the crisis of housing insecurity in a state where 1 out of every 2 households is housing cost-burdened; i.e. paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
Public debate is one of the core tenets of a democracy. Denying local lawmakers the opportunity to explore all of the options at their disposal is simply irresponsible; especially when there are communities throughout Illinois where 1 out every 3 renter is paying more than half of every dollar they earn on rent.
Third, the legislation that didn’t advance for a vote in the committee where Rep. Tarver sits, which would regulate rents statewide, would not disincentivize development no more than real estate development has been disincentivized in any of the municipalities that have had rent controlled properties for decades. Nor would the proposed legislation prohibit landlords from being able to cover increases in taxes or fees because those contingencies are written into the legislation. Neither would the proposed legislation create more unaffordable rents as an unintended consequence because the legislation calls for all residential rental property to be regulated.
It’s unfortunate that Rep. Tarver would rather hide behind disingenuous comments that seek to obscure the facts. The fact is that despite voicing full-throated support for rent control while campaigning, after the election, he repeatedly denied requests to meet with members of the Lift the Ban coalition; informing them he would rather wait to hear the information presented in the committee at the time of the vote. It was only after he killed the bill in the committee did he schedule a phone call with coalition representatives.
If Rep. Tarver currently opposes rent control against the needs of his constituents, that’s clearly his political prerogative. However, it is wholly undemocratic to support legislation introduced into our state legislature by the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC), and prohibit city councils and county boards from acting responsibly to meet the needs of their residents.
ALEC, by the way, is the same right wing special interest group that promoted the Stand Your Ground law that George Zimmerman used in defending himself against murdering Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Whether Chicago has rent control should be the purview of Illinois’ municipalities. Do the right thing Rep. Tarver and allow democracy to take place. Support the repeal of the Rent Control Preemption Act, and empower local lawmakers to decide if rent control works.