The spring’s protracted standoff over rent regulations produced some of the most heated housing rhetoric heard in many year. Tenant groups portrayed vacancy decontrol as a prelude to skyrocketing rent increases and a massive displacement of middle-class residents. Advocates of decontrol exaggerated the degree to which rent regulations suppress new housing construction in the city and promised a golden era of housing production if they were removed. Both sides largely ignored the allocational distortions that are probably the most pernicious effect of regulation.

The debate, however, temporarily focused the attention of the press and public on the dearth of middle-income housing production in the city. Now that the rent regulation issue has been tabled until 2003, many housing professionals are wondering how to sustain attention on the city’s middle-income housing problems.

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