This article by Christine Dunn in the Providence Journal takes a strange (if predictable) turn:
Providence’s 2016 eviction rate, 3.82 percent, was nearly triple that of Boston in that same year (1.3 percent), according to new data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. This group is led by sociologist Matthew Desmond, whose 2016 book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,” won the Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction in 2017. …
Why is Providence’s rate so much higher than Boston’s and New York’s when Desmond says a lack of affordable housing is a problem across the country?
According to Clement, less access to free legal assistance for Rhode Island tenants, and less state support for housing in general, are reasons Providence fares worse than Boston in the rankings.
Umm… perhaps the fact that Massachusetts — particularly the Boston area — has a much healthier economy has something to do with it? Oddly, the article presents unemployment as an effect, not a cause, of eviction. That presentation is especially odd because the article doesn’t allege wrongful evictions. People just don’t have the money. Why don’t they have the money? Because there’s limited opportunity, here.
That being the case, giving people free legal help would merely shift the burden to landlords, who will either have to increase rents or get out of the business, thus reducing supply and, ultimately, driving up rents again. Adding evictions to the long list of programs that Rhode Island attempts to address with public welfare programs would increase taxes and harm the economy, thus leading to reduced ability to afford rent.
Rhode Island has no other solution than facing down its insider, I-know-a-guy system and taking the chains off our economy. None. And that reality brings us back to the deepest, most-fundamental problem for renters as for every don’t-know-a-guy resident: It just makes so much more sense to leave than to try to fix the joint.
Unless Rhode Island’s governing elite and information providers shift to promoting economic freedom as the solution to the various symptoms of our state’s decline, that decline will continue.