Michael Donley

How Financial Giant Blackstone Got the Cops to Kick Us Out of Our Home

At the height of the foreclosure crisis in 2011, when there were five times more vacant homes than homeless people in the United States, activists began pursuing a very simple solution: moving homeless people into people-less homes. We were one such family. In February 2013, after we lost our Section 8 housing voucher and were evicted from our subsidized apartment, we moved with our two teenage children into a vacant home in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. That’s where we collided head-on with the investment giant Blackstone Group’s massive operation to purchase foreclosed homes.

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The Coming Nightmare of Wall Street-Controlled Rental Markets

In a 2011 report, Morgan Stanley analysts proclaimed that America was experiencing a transition from an ownership society to a “rentership society.” “The combination of falling home prices, limited mortgage credit, continued liquidations and better rental options is fundamentally changing the way Americans live,” says the report, concluding, “We believe this change is only beginning.” For Wall Street firms, the Morgan Stanley report appears to have become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Seeing a profitable opening in the wake of the foreclosure crisis, investment groups have worked diligently to bring a “rentership society” into being. During the past two years, investors have bought approximately 200,000 single-family homes, mostly foreclosures, in urban areas nationwide, with plans to convert them into rental properties. In Atlanta, one such investment group purchased 1,400 homes on a single day in April of last year.

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