Funded on December 1, 2020

Within the last decade, debates on rent stabilization have reemerged among housing researchers, policymakers, and the communities they serve, especially in regions where low-income communities of color have experienced skyrocketing rents and disproportionate rates of residential displacement. As a whole, research on rent stabilization has produced mixed findings and limited empirical analysis to effectively guide policy decisions. This study seeks to address the uncertainty over rent stabilization’s effects by providing an evidence-based analysis of the early impacts of rent stabilization policies on tenants in the cities of Mountain View and Richmond, two jurisdictions in California’s San Francisco Bay Area that adopted rent stabilization ordinances in 2016.  

This study will explore the extent to which the 2016 policy changes increased the likelihood of housing stability among Richmond and Mountain View tenants in terms of the following:  

  1. reducing forced moves and outmigration;  

  1. improving financial status and access to opportunity; and  

  1. fostering tenants’ power to both determine the circumstances of their own housing and participate in shaping the circumstances of their communities.  

Utilizing data from the University of California Consumer Credit Panel as well as a field survey of tenants conducted in collaboration with community-based partner organizations, this research will investigate potential differences in these outcomes for tenants of rent-stabilized units in Richmond and Mountain View compared to tenants of non-stabilized housing, both within the study cities as well as other Bay Area jurisdictions that have not enacted local rent stabilization ordinances. By also examining distributional effects across racial and social groups, this research seeks to understand the extended through line between rent stabilization policies, holistic life outcomes, and racial equity.