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Thursday, March 20, 2014

My answers to the TENAC questionnaire - set D.C. housing free!

Many of the current Council members support these issues, what say you?
(Me: It's curious that the City Council supports the proposed solutions, but the problems remain - that should be cause for reflection, no?)
If elected:

Housing has become unaffordable for many in DC, and costs are rising rapidly.
---  Will you work with the tenant community to make housing once again affordable in DC?

Me:  It's simply supply and demand.  The federal government has imported tens of thousands of people a year to D.C. who have law and other graduate degrees and it pays them on one side or another of $100,000.  They bid up prices.  You cannot compete with this or change it.  They will always be offering to buy or rent property for more than others can afford.  The best solution would be encouraging long term residents to buy homes in areas just beyond the area where gentrification is driving up prices, if you can still find such an area in D.C.

Recently and supposedly temporarily, the amount of annual rent increase for rent controlled apartments has been figured by adding 2% to the inflation (CPI) rate.  Through the power of compounding, that added 2% is killing rent control. 
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the elimination of the added 2%?

Me:  I would support eliminating the 2% as I would eliminate all rent control regulation now existing, the remnant of Nixon's wage and price controls, and seek other solutions.

Presently, many landlord petitions and voluntary agreements allow housing providers to effectively remove their apartments from rent control. 
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the elimination of these loopholes?

Me:  Small investors who buy smaller multi-unit buildings are leaving D.C. and selling their buildings to people who convert them to condos or tear them down and build luxury high rises.  They do this because they no longer want to deal with rent control and the D.C. government generally.  In some cases, they simply abandon properties.  We must remove government from the housing market, including getting rid of the absolute prohibition on building tall buildings, to increase the supply of housing.

When rent control was enacted in DC in 1975, all non-exempt rental apartments were subject to rent control protection.  The laws have not been updated to include buildings constructed after that time, so now more and more apartments lack the protection.
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the phasing-in of rent control to apartment buildings constructed after 1975 (thereby starting to restore the original intent of the law to apply rent control broadly to existing apartments)?

Me:  Rent control laws and other such interventions do not protect tenants, since they reduce the housing supply and ultimately drive rents up.  Imagine what would happen if we mandated that no one could buy a loaf of bread priced at over a nickel.  A funny story I heard once when at a Thanksgiving dinner at the Van Ness North cooperative.  Another guest lived in the rental apartment next door, that is between the Van Ness North, which is a co-op, and the Van Ness East, a condo.  She told me long ago, before the housing boom, the tenants in her building had started to buy their building and make it another co-op.  Self-described "Tenant's Right's" activists persuaded them not to do so, since it would "reduce the supply of rental housing."  And there sat my dinner partner year's later, still at the mercy of a landlord.  Whatever solutions can be engineered cannot be ones that reduce the supply of housing and prevent people from home ownership.

The Mayor's Summit designated the lack of affordable housing as DC's number one problem.  But on the City Council, housing concerns have been divided among committees and swallowed up by economic development.  The word, "Housing," was even removed from the name of the council committee, Economic Development and Housing.
---  Will you protect tenants by supporting the establishment of a DC Council Standing Committee solely focused on Housing, so that the lack of affordable housing will receive the attention it deserves?

Me:  I pledge to eliminate and cut D.C. government agencies and not to create new ones.  No other candidates will do that. I will happily eliminate agencies that prevent people from building more housing.

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Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6
Pranav Badhwar for Ward 6

Campaign 2014