Portland needs to address its affordable-housing crisis with policies that would encourage new construction and help renters who are priced out of the market.

If such a policy were on the ballot this year, we would support it, but unfortunately, that is not the case.

We urge Portland voters to say “no” to Question 1 on the city ballot.

The well-intended referendum would do two things: limit rent increases on existing units owned by larger landlords, and make it harder for landlords to evict tenants who have leases. Overseeing compliance would be a seven-member volunteer board, which would approve applications for rent increases that exceed inflation and hear appeals of evictions.

The Rent Board would have sweeping responsibility, but very few resources to oversee regulation of a large portion of the city’s 18,000 rental units.

By comparison, the Planning Board, also with seven volunteer members, has an entire department of city government working under it. The Rent Board’s work would be supported by the much smaller Housing Safety Office, which is already tasked with keeping building inspections up to date.

That’s a recipe for bureaucratic gridlock, and it alone would be reason enough to oppose Question 1.

But the problems with the ordinance go deeper.

What’s proposed would not lower anybody’s rent, or make an apartment affordable to anyone who cannot now afford one. All it would do is limit rent increases over the next seven years (when the ordinance would expire if not renewed by the City Council).

By definition, that would help only the people who can currently afford their rent, including people who can afford it with ease. But a family that’s struggling to stay housed will continue to struggle, and people who have had to move away or could never afford to live here will still be shut out.

It might seem unfair to judge a piece of housing policy because it only helps some renters, but this ordinance could hurt renters as well.

Some landlords would try to avoid the regulations and convert units to short-term rentals, like Airbnb, or make them condominiums, taking what could be affordable units off the market.

Owners would also be discouraged from upgrading their property because it would take too long for them to recoup the costs. Problem tenants would be more difficult to evict, making life harder for their neighbors.

There is no yes-or-no question that can solve the affordability crisis. We encourage the referendum’s backers to keep working with the city government, property owners and the nonprofit housing agencies to develop targeted policies that would really make a difference.