Kelsey Halliday Johnson’s Feb. 19 op-ed, “Maine Voices: Housing solutions are key to future of Portland’s thriving arts sector,” while admirable in her stated goal of supporting Portland’s arts scene through affordable-housing initiatives, misses the mark on proposed solutions.

Johnson proposes further conversation on rent control and curtailing short-term rentals. Unfortunately, neither of these policy initiatives will make Portland a more affordable or equitable place to live.

In fact, it’s now a well-established fact that expanding rent control may appear to help current tenants in the short run, but “in the long run it decreases affordability, fuels gentrification and creates negative spillovers on the surrounding neighborhood,” according to a 2018 Brookings Institute research review, among countless studies by reputable economists.

Johnson also fails to mention the well-known positive impacts of short-term rental options for lower- and middle-class families. Consider the empty nesters who may rely on the rental income from their daughter’s empty bedroom to pay for her college tuition, or the sculptors, chefs and countless other working and creative individuals whose short-term rental spaces allow them to pursue their passions, keep their homes and build a vibrant surrounding community.

The path to a more affordable and equitable Portland requires more and accessible housing: relaxing zoning rules to allow for more high-density housing options throughout the city, and expanding public transit to keep the city and its neighborhoods connected and accessible to all.

With a deep love for Portland and all who call it home,

Megan Roberts


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