Recently, several residents and housing advocates attended a Fresno City Council meeting to push for rent control. However, they ran into a block of ice. City Council members and the mayor of Fresno are against it.
“When rent control is implemented, ultimately, you have landlords making fewer dollars, and so they’re not investing in their property. And as a result, we end up with a lot of slums within a city,” said the mayor (read our story, “Fresno’s Frustrated Rent Control Advocates”). This reasoning is much shared by most of the Council members. The basic point is that they are in bed with developers and will not implement any measure that could annoy them.
Council members say they support building more affordable units. If that is the case, they should build 25,000–30,000 units due to the needs of the population. Keep in mind that Fresno topped the national list for highest rent increases in 2022.
“As of January 2022, rental prices in Fresno for a one-bedroom apartment have increased to a median of $1,400 a month, and two-bedroom apartments are an average of $1,700 a month, according to Zumper” (Fresno Bee, Feb. 8, 2022).
The building of new affordable units is a slow process and the refusal to change the pace or implement any kind of rent control is a way to leave the solution to those who created the housing problem in the first place: developers and housing investors. They are driven by profit, so they don’t care about solutions.
The City Council recently passed a repressive anti-homeless resolution and a similar one oriented to “control” street vendors.
So much for the expression that “we finally have Democratic control of the City Council.” All the Council members are under the influence of big money. The Democrats are conservative too, with less repulsive speeches than their Republican counterpart, but in the end, they are pro-corporate/pro-business.
The problem is that government has the responsibility to resolve mainly social issues and to consider the public interest as a priority, not private interests. On supporting private interests, the Council members are truly bipartisan.
Till next month.