Bernie's new Housing For All plan will stop the corporatization of housing that has been enriching Donald Trump's donors
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Bernie is releasing his Housing for All plan today — an initiative to guarantee every American, regardless of income, a fundamental right to a safe, decent, accessible, and affordable home. The plan addresses a housing crisis in which more than 18 million families are paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing — while Wall Street banks made a record-breaking $111 billion in profits last year.
One of the major planks in Bernie’s plan is a proposal to finally end the mass sale of mortgages to Wall Street firms and crack down on predatory practices of Wall Street landlords. That includes the firm run by Donald Trump’s billionaire adviser, Steve Schwarzman — the financier who throws himself multimillion-dollar birthday parties and bankrolls the GOP, while his firm fuels a housing crisis and traps tenants in a cycle of squalor, predatory fees and evictions.
In the wake of the financial crisis, the federal government helped private equity giants like Schwarzman’s firm Blackstone buy up foreclosed homes, and then convert them into rental properties. The Atlantic reports that between 2011 and 2017, these giants gained control of more than 200,000 homes. This has been great for Blackstone, which has been cashing in on the scheme — but it hasn’t been great for everyone else:
• CORPORATE LANDLORDS USE EVICTIONS TO DESTROY COMMUNITIES: A study from the Atlanta Federal Reserve found that when corporate owners of single-family rentals (are) 8 percent more likely than small landlords to file eviction notices.” The study additionally found that “the largest firms file eviction notices on a third of their properties in a year and have an 18 percent higher housing instability rate.”
• CORPORATE LANDLORDS JACK UP RENT, DECREASE HOMEOWNERSHIP: A study from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve found that the corporatization of home ownership has “depressed local homeownership rates.” It also found that corporate “buying and selling in the single-family housing market affected the local rental market, raising rental price growth rates.” In a recent letter slamming Blackstone, the United Nations noted that “institutional owners are associated with undue rent increases and in many cases, tenants in Blackstone-controlled properties “are now making rental payments that are higher than were their mortgage payments, without the benefit of accruing equity.”
• CORPORATE LANDLORDS ARE DEADBEAT LANDLORDS: While Wall Street landlords say they are good stewards, a deep-dive Reuters investigation found that in reality, “the picture that emerges isn’t as much one of exceptional service as it is one of leaky pipes, vermin, toxic mold, nonfunctioning appliances and months-long waits for repairs.”
• CORPORATE LANDLORDS BUY ELECTIONS TO STOP RENT LIMITS: In the face of California’s acute housing crisis, progressive groups in 2018 placed a measure on the state’s ballot that would have allowed local communities to enact rent control ordinances. Blackstone and other real estate investment firms quickly poured millions of dollars into the successful effort to grossly outspend the initiative’s proponents and defeat it in the election.
Trump and congressional Republicans have aided and abetted the corporatization of the housing market, and been handsomely repaid by their donors.
As Wall Street landlords like Schwarzman and Tom Barrack have funneled cash to the GOP, Trump and the GOP have given real estate moguls lucrative new tax breaks. At the same time, Trump has allowed real estate firms to profit off programs that were supposed to help low-income communities.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that “Kushner Cos., the real estate firm owned by the family of President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has received about $800 million in federally backed debt to buy apartments in Maryland and Virginia.” Similarly, Politico reports that Blackstone was recently given a taxpayer-backed loan guarantee “allowing the company to add to the 50,000 single-family rentals it already owns, many acquired at rock-bottom prices during the housing collapse.”
Bernie’s plan will do the opposite — it will crack down on corporate landlords that are destroying too many communities throughout America.
Bern after reading,