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Hold on, some affordable housing advocates say—rent control does work, despite the still-talked-about findings to the contrary in a September 2017 study from Stanford University.

In Shelterforce, Dean Preston and Shanti Singh, of California housing advocacy organization Tenants Together, contend that the Stanford team makes three critical mistakes in its analysis of rising rents and gentrification in San Francisco:

While the data portion of the report documents the direct and substantial benefits of rent control in achieving its purposes, the balance of the paper uses flawed assumptions and conjecture to conclude that the direct, proven benefits of rent control are somehow negated by indirect effects.

Preston and Singh first cite the Stanford authors' failure to focus on loopholes as the real culprit in the rent-control controversy.

Mistake #1: The authors blame rent control, rather than speculator creation and abuse of loopholes around rent control, for the displacement of tenants.

According to the Stanford study, 15 percent of the units in certain smaller buildings in San Francisco have been “converted” to market rate since voters placed these buildings under the city’s rent control law through a 1994 ballot measure. That unremarkable finding simply highlights what tenant advocates have been trying to stop for years—speculation that skirts rent control by converting units.

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