CBC: Would rent control help or hinder Nova Scotia's housing shortage?

Posted November 26, 2020

After weeks of mounting pressure, the Nova Scotia government announced Wednesday that it's temporarily bringing in rent control by capping increases at two per cent per year, effective immediately. 
Before the announcement, CBC's Information Morning spoke with people who are for and against rent control as part of a series called Unaffordable or Unfit: Nova Scotia's Housing Challenge.
The series is taking an in-depth look at what many people are calling a housing crisis in this province. Record low vacancy rates and rising rental costs are pushing more and more people to seek help at homeless shelters that are already at capacity. 
Housing Minister Chuck Porter said Wednesday that his government is stepping in to address some of these problems. 
Rent increases are now capped at two per cent per year without exception. The change is retroactive to September 2020 and will remain in place until Feb. 1, 2022, or whenever the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.
CBC Radio's Information Morning is exploring the current state of affordable housing in Nova Scotia and what can be done to address some of the problems. (Photo Illustration/CBC News)
Porter also announced the creation of the Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Commission.
Hannah Wood with the housing advocacy group ACORN is a supporter of rent control. She says it's one way the provincial government can help people living on low and moderate incomes. 
"This is a really life and death issue for people, and putting that max on it would help control this," she told CBC's Information Morning before the announcement. 
But David Rapson, a professor of economics at the University of California Davis who lives in Halifax, doesn't believe rent control will work, even as an interim relief for people.
He pointed to other cities where it's been implemented. 
"There's some really strong evidence from cities like San Francisco that this reduced 15 per cent of the rental housing supply as a result of rent control, so these are really big effects that actually adversely affect the people that we're trying to help with this policy," he said. 
Source: CBC News


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