“Voters in three Chicago wards voted yesterday in favor of lifting the statewide ban on rent control, which would be a first step toward discussing whether to create plan to limit increases.

In wards that encompass parts of Logan Square (35th), Uptown (46th) and Rogers Park (49th), a nonbinding referendum asked voters whether they want the state’s ban on rent control to be lifted.

In each of the three wards, at least two-thirds of voters supported lifting the ban: 71 percent in the 35th, 70 percent in the 46th and 66 percent the 49th, according to vote totals posted by the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.

“We’re going to use these results to continue to try to convince our legislators that lifting the ban is the right thing to do,” said Jawanza Malone, executive director of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Council and a leader of the Lift the Ban Coalition. The coalition is spearheading efforts to get the General Assembly to repeal the state’s Rent Control Preemption Act, passed in 1997, which prohibits any Illinois municipality from adopting rent control programs.

The nonbinding referendums on the ballot in some parts of the city last March and additional areas yesterday are “part of the people’s effort to say the process needs to go forward,” Malone said.

Without controls on fast-rising rents, he said, “people are hurting.” Last year, The Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University reported that in Cook County, “countywide 53 percent of renter households paid 30 percent or more of their income towards housing in 2015.”

Rent control opponents, including real estate industry groups, argue that legislating a ceiling on rent increases leads landlords to cut their investment in properties and would ultimately hurt renters more than it helps them.

A similar referendum was on the March ballot in 76 precincts scattered around nine wards. In every one, at least 60 percent of the votes cast supported lifting the ban, and in most, the figure was above 75 percent.

Yesterday’s vote differed in that it was ward-wide, rather than polling individual precincts. In March, opponents of lifting the ban “accused us of cherry-picking precincts where we’d get favorable results,” Malone said, “but not this time.”

None of the precincts where voters got to weigh in in March were in the same wards where the question was on yesterday’s ballot.”

Click here to continue reading.