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Sunday, March 3, 2024
March 3, 2024

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Letter: Put cap on rent increases

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The “free market” is not the solution to keeping renters in their homes. Ronald Reagan thought that was the answer 50 years ago and we now face shortages of thousands of homes.

When there is a crisis, the market is unconcerned unless it can make a profit. And in Washington, owners can make unlimited profits without being taxed by the state.

During World War II, the Vancouver Housing Authority built hundreds of homes for workers coming to work in the shipyards. Many of those houses are still being used in the Heights and Fruit Valley. We need that kind of program again.

As a Columbian editorial recognized (“Cleveland’s thoughtful approach should be lauded,” In Our View, Jan. 31), incentives will not result in quick relief for renters facing double-digit rent increases. A short-term 5 percent cap on rent raises will.

Perhaps Sen. Cleveland could propose a sunset provision and hardship exemptions for smaller landlords if the companion bill to SB 5961 makes it out of the House. But her unwillingness to try to improve the bill rather than letting it die does not solve any problems. Until there is sufficient housing (estimated to take years) we will continue to see people becoming homeless so long as there are no limits on rent increases.

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