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July 22, 1977 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-07-22

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Rent control could be the answer

What exactly is rent control?
Quite simply, it's a limitation
on how high and how fast rents
are permitted to rise. Rent con-
trol laws can be a good way to
attack the problem of high and
rising rents in a city like Ann
Arbor.
It's clear something ought to
be done ahout the high level of
local rents. Ann Arbor's rents

are among the steepest of any
city in the nation, and they are
shooting up faster and faster.
Recent U.S. Census figures show
over past decades local rents
have been increasing much
more quickly than the national
average, and the most recent
Census study, taken in 1970,
showed Ann Arbor's median
rent was 72 per cent higher than
the national median.

The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University of Michigan
Friday, July 22, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
If MSA gets the funds pr ra sw1 sa
WHEN THE REGENTS approved a 40 per cent increase
to the voluntary assessment for student funding of
the Michigan Student Assembly (MSA), they breathed
life into some of MSA's more important and visible pro-
grams.
Specifically, the Housing Law Reform Project, the
Tenants' Union and the Course Exaluation Projects all
stand to gain from the increase. Without the additional
allotments, at least two of the programs would have
died before they could have proven invaluable.
With an increase of 20 cents voluntarily contribu-
ted by students, the Housing Law Reform Project hopes
to raise over $10,000 - still three to four thousand dol-
lars short of paying the salaries of two lawyers work-
ing on the project. Those salaries could not be found
within the regular MSA budget which, sources say, is.
already "pretty much spoken for."
11HE REMAINING 20 cents will go to the Course Evalua-
tion Project, just getting off the ground, and to the
Tenants Union.
That all three projects merit student backing is clear.
Housing is a common problem among students, as well
as other parts of the community. And the quality of
education here would probably always be a topic suffer-
ing student scorn.
The MSA is the stssdents only real link to the Ad-
ministration - responsibility of changes to favor stu-
dents here is charged to thO MSA. A load like that clear
ly deserves as much student support as possible.
With anything less than widespread student financial
backing of the MSA and its projects, the projects most
helpful to students could fail.

ANN ARBOR'S housing crisis
isn't different in nature than
the housing problem in the rest
of the nation - it's just different
in degree. Rents are rising un-
usually fast here, but they' are
going up all over the country.
Part of these increases is due-
to the rising cost of such things
as energy and labor. But the
lion's share of rent inflation is
just an inevitable result of the
way our country's housing mar-
ket is set up.
The rent a landlord charges
for an apartment or a house is
based on the demand for hous-
ing. Because demand is high,
landlords in Ann Arbor can of-
fer dwellings to prospective ten-
ants at inflated prices, saying,
"Take it or- leave it" - and
the chances are excellent some
unfortunate tenant will be forced
to take it, unable to find a bet-
ter deal in town.
When rental buildings are
bought and sold in Ann Arbor,
their prices go higher and high-
er, because buyers know they
can raise the rents to make it
worth paying a high price for
a building. The owners of build-
ings can make huge profits on
the sale of their property, since
buyers are willing to pay ever-
increasing prices: Banks take
their cut in the process, earn-
ing more and more interest as
mortgage payments go up with
the rising value of buildings.
And pity the poor tenants -
they foot the bill for all the
profit made in the process.
But rent control could break
this cycle. The main fuel of the
housing inflation process is the
landlords' capability to hike
rents. But rent levels controlled
by law, tenants can be protect-
ed from being forged to pay,
soaring rents.
RENT CONTROL could put a
limit on the amount of rent a
landlord could charge for a
piece of property, with allow-
ances for passing on to tenants
legitimate cost increases due to
inflation, tax hikes, and the like.
Sounds fair enough, doesn't it?
The energy industry is regula-
ted, interstate commerce is
regulated, banking services are
regulated. Why not introduce
some strong regulation into the
property leasing market in Ann
Arbor, where the private market
has failed to adequately pro-
vide for consumers' needs?
Rent control proposals appear-
ed on the city ballot in 1973 and
1974, but were defeated both
times due to the efforts of an
association of landlords formed
under the name "Citiens
Against Rent Control," The

group, which later changed its
name to "Citizens for Good
Housing," collected contributions
from landlords and other people
to form five-figure expense ac-
counts, which it used to hire
professional advertisers to cam-
paign against rent control. The
advertisers were furnished with
plenty of money to talk voters
out of supporting rent control,
but the truth was in short sup-
ply.

controllers were , not able to
clarify these issues before the
voters because they did not have
the money to buy equal access
to the media.
ALTHOUGH CERTAIN forms
of rent control can lead to aban-
donment, the restriction of rent
levels in itself is not at fault.
Local tenant attorney Jonathan
Rose explains, "Rent control
cannot cause abandonment if

iilenanl 6iorner
By STEPHEN HERSH -

The landlords' gripe with rent
control was that it would put
a ceiling on the profits they
could earn. While it's easy to
understand why landlords would
like to keep their earnings high,
it's also easy to see there's a
limit to how high a profit can
be deemed fair.
BUT THE 'Citizens for Good
Housing" campaign got its view
of the issue out to many more
voters than could the poorly-
financed rent control supporters
of the Human Rights Party
(HRP). And the landlord group
won over a majority of the vo-
ters - but not without using
distortions, half-truths, and sen-
sationalistic scare headlines in
its advertisements.
For example, the anti-rent con-
trol media blitz of 1974 distorted
the issue of what effect rent
control would. have on apart-
ment maintenance. Boththe,
1973 and the 1974 proposals al-
lowed landlords to figure the
total cost of making repairs
into the amount of rent they.
would charge. The '73 proposal
went even further than the later
one, allowing landlords to set
rents high enough to not only
cover the costs of repairs, but
to provide themselves with a
tidy prbfit of 50 cents for every
maintenance dollar spent.
There were aspects of rent
control other than maintenance
which the landlords distorted in
their ads - and the pro-rent

the particular rent control law
allows for rent increases to
match cost increases. It is only
when this provision is not in-
cluded that landlords get caught
in a cost-price squeeze that mo-
tivates abandonment." The '73
and '74 Ann Arbor proposals
did, in fact, allow rent to be
increased as costs increased.
A future rent control proposal
for the city would not have to
stick to the rent control formu-
las of the '73 or the '74 propos-
als. Rent control laws could help
housing problems in such ways
as by exempting new buildings
from rent restrictions for the
first 50 years after they are con-
structed. Rent control measures
which exempt new buildings can
help stimulate new construction
- and new construction is bad-
ly needed in Ann Arbor, where
the housing supply is short and
no major new construction has
been undertaken in the central
city in the past 10 years.
The local housing crisis pre-
sents complex and thorny prob-
lems. Rent control would not
be a cure-all for these prob-
lems, but the right rent control
law could be one constructive
step in the right direction.
Stephen Hersh, a former Sin-
lay May zisee editor a/ tin
Daily, is comnsity edoas/in
.i:re tor of the Michigan S/-
dest Assembly Ilosing i Las
Reform Project,

I

I

Letters to The Daily

I

se,'
..,1

racism
To The Daily:
I am writing to applaud the
editorial entitled "Our System
of Injustices" which appeared in
your issue of 7 July 1977.
Throughout my three years at
the University of Michigan I
have growingly become disen-
chanted with the Daily and it's
coverage of blacks, especially
on this campus, and the civil
rights movement. This editorial
was certainly a welcomed step
in the right direction
While I am in full support of
the editor's views on her subject
I would like to point out that
her subject might easily well be
extended to deal with similar
developments here on this cam-
pus.
As I am nearine te comne-

ing trend here in our own back-
yards that indicates "serious
hatred and backsliding is still
alive and welt." For example,
in Bursley Hall I have seen
white residents in the dormitory
government go from an attitude
of cooperation and understand-
ing with and for black residents
towards an attitude of resistance
and obstruction. Along with this
growing trend among residents
in the dormitory system, I have
watched administrators such as
vice president of student serv-
ices, Henry Johnson, sit back
rather unconcerned, virtually
ignore the growing hatred and
backsliding. Might I point out
that this is going on in an area
where he could be most effec-
tive in remedying the situation.
But not only in the dorms do
we see evidence of such back-
sliding, we can see it. in the
University as a whole. For ex-

the goal of an overall black en-
rollment of 10 per -cent which
the Regents agreed to meet
seven years ago? And what is
going on in terms of needed
supportive services for black
students like the Black Advo-
cate, C.U.L.S., and Minority
Counseling & I n f o r m a t i on
(M.C.I.) which are being cut-
back, reshuffled, and phased
out? These and other things
continue to happen at an alarm-
ing rate to many black students
such as myself. I point all of
this out as I feel there is so
much here at home that our
editor need familarize herself
with if she hasn't already. For
in our own backyard the things
which the editorial expressed
are all too prevelent.
-Charles F. Holman, III
Executive Secretary &

TODAY'S STAFF:
News: Denise Fox, Lani Jordan, Stu McConnell, Ken
Parsigion, Tim Yagle, Barb Zchs
Editorial: Linda Willcox
Sports: Scott Lewis
Photo: Christina Schneider
Arts: David Keeps

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