Progressives are advocating for rent control legislation that would allow local communities to tell landlords how much they can charge for their rental properties. This is just more government control over our lives that would have exactly the opposite effect of what is intended.

Rising rental costs, particularly in the Commonwealth's largest cities, is cause for concern among low and middle-income earners but rent control is not the answer.

It's simply a matter of supply and demand. Economics 101. When there is not enough of something to meet the needs of those who want it, the price goes up. There is just not enough housing available in some areas of Massachusetts to meet the demand, thus the higher rental costs. The solution is to increase the housing stock. In other words, build more houses and continue to convert existing structures into rental units.

Massachusetts had rent control until 1994 when voters got rid of it by a 51-49 margin in a statewide referendum. At the time, only Boston, Cambridge and Brookline had local rent control programs.

Real estate and construction industry leaders say rent control would cool new home construction in Massachusetts and that would result in even higher rental costs. Besides, rent control would give local governments too much authority over property owners by dictating what they can and cannot charge for their rental units. Remember, government intrusion always makes matters worse.

Massachusetts needs to encourage new home construction statewide but particularly in urban areas. The conversion of the former Phillips Avenue School in New Bedford into housing units was blocked by neighbors and the city council last year. Projects such as that one are necessary to help reduce the demand and lower the cost of housing and should be encouraged.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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