Following soaring housing prices and middle-class family fears of the growing income gap, renters' rights groups in Californiaare pushing for what could be the largest expansion of tenant laws since the 1970s. New York Times staffer Conor Dougherty takes a look at this movement, which is centered in the south of San Francisco where prices have risen about 50% over the past five years.

Activists contend that rent control appears to be a viable solution to help middle-class families and lower-paid service employees until a more comprehensive solution is found:

“The solution to the overall increase in housing prices in this area is bringing supply and demand into better balance,” said Leonard Siegel, a city councilman in Mountain View, where Google has its headquarters. “But until we get there — which means we need time to build housing — we keep losing people, and the fabric of our community is being torn apart.”

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