Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson and Impacted Tenants Call for Passage of the Homes for Families Bill (AB 1199), as New Report Shows 10 Billionaire Landlords have Amassed $191 Billion to Buy-Up More Properties
LOS ANGELES — The housing fate of tens of thousands of Californian families rests in the hands of a select few wealthy corporate landlords who have amassed billions in additional wealth during the pandemic, according to findings in a new report released Wednesday, March 17.
The report titled, “Cashing in on Our Homes; Billionaire Landlords Profit as Millions Face Eviction,” reveals that 10 corporate landlords in California had wealth totaling $55 billion and they have seen that wealth increase $7.9 billion since mid-March 2020. These 10 landlords own and operate 184,000 units statewide and have secured $191 billion in “cash-on-hand” — loans, cash and other funds from investors, banks and financial firms—to purchase homes and smaller companies active in the market. The wealth these landlords have amassed in the last 12 months alone is enough to pay down the entire back rent owed by all California renters.
“Wealth accumulation of this magnitude and market cornering represents a real threat to the American Dream, as families are struggling to make offers on homes,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson). “Mom-and-pop landlords are being elbowed out of the real estate business and tenants are left with no information about who owns their homes, while billionaire landlords are positioning themselves to own entire neighborhoods. We need real government intervention to prevent this.”
The report points to proposed innovative solutions such as the Homes for Families and Corporate Monopoly Transparency Excise Tax bill (AB1199), which was introduced by Assemblymember Gipson and is currently under consideration in California Legislature. Companies “have the responsibility – and more than enough resources – to protect our communities during this pandemic. They need to put our health and safety before their greed,” the report says. Policymakers, “must start to rebuild housing systems in this country using innovative strategies that center families of color and make clear that housing is the human right that this pandemic has made clear it should be,” it continued.
Lori Gay, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Housing Services Los Angeles, an organization that supports low-income and first-time homebuyers, says many of her clients are struggling to find homes on the market. “With more of our land in the control of large corporate landlords, cities are bound to see displacement and a widening wealth gap for generations to come. Once again, we are expecting to see a transfer of land from the community to corporate interests, if there is no intervention,” Gay said.
In addition, the corporate landlords profiled in the report —Veritas Investments, Greystar Real Estate Partners and GH Palmer— are documented slumlords and serial evictors.
“We’ve become all too familiar with the excessive practice of billionaire landlords acquiring huge portfolios through opaque limited liability corporations,” says Jyotswaroop Bawa, Organizing and Campaigns Director at California Reinvestment Coalition. “This practice puts tenants at the mercy of their landlords, as they are unable to pursue recourse for unlivable habitability conditions. More ominously, opaque property ownership makes it easier for these landlords to hide bad behavior. Tenants have the right to know who owns their property and would-be sellers have the right to know whether or not they are selling to a corporate landlord. Legislation like, AB 1199 is essential in uncovering the names of people who own property through LLCs.”
Karina Andreeva, an organizer with the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco (HRCSF) and former Veritas Investments tenant who remains financially indebted to the corporate landlord because of the pandemic. “This report provides clear evidence about corporate landlords that I have experienced for years: Corporate landlords evade accountability through their myriad LLCs and exploit current laws at tenants’ expense, while the game is rigged against me becoming a homeowner,” said Andreeva, who is also organizing alongside members of the Veritas Tenants Association, many of whom are involved in multiple civil suits against Veritas.
In addition, the research in this report shows that many of these companies also profited from the 2008 financial crisis by buying up real estate at rock-bottom prices in the depths of the mortgage meltdown. “This report shows what our communities have seen during crisis after crisis in this country: wealthy, white billionaires and multi-millionaires profiting from our pain,” said report co-author and Bargaining for the Common Good Research Director Sara Myklebust. “Over 530,000 people, disproportionately Black and Brown, have lost their lives – one in three Americans knows someone who has passed away. Meanwhile, these men and their companies are pushing for more rent and evicting families, literally putting more lives at risk. These guys, as individuals, could afford to forgive rent for millions of Americans – what they’re doing is criminal.”
About California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC):
With over 300 member organizations across California that provide services to low-income communities and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities, California Reinvestment Coalition works to build a just and equitable economy. Founded in 1987, CRC advocates for bank and corporate investment, lending, and financial services that expand access to affordable housing, small business ownership, good jobs, and other resources that build household and community wealth.
The mission of the California Reinvestment Coalition is to build an inclusive and fair economy that meets the needs of BIPOC and low-income communities by ensuring that banks and other corporations invest and conduct business in our communities in a just and equitable manner.
About Bargaining for the Common Good Network:
The Bargaining for the Common Good Network is made up of unions, community groups, racial justice organizations and student organizations that work together as equal partners to win bigger and broader demands at the bargaining table and in the streets. In these campaigns, labor and community groups demand that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share so that all our communities have what they need to prosper. Unions that have the right to bargain use contract fights as an opportunity to organize with community partners around a set of demands that benefit not just the bargaining unit, but also the wider community as a whole.
The Institute for Policy Studies is a multi-issue research center that has conducted ground-breaking research on inequality for more than 20 years. The IPS Program on Inequality and the Common Good, and the Inequality.org website, provide research, advocacy and policy development on issues related to economic inequality.
About Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund:
Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund is a nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, community-based, consumer, labor, small business, and other groups. Formed in the wake of the 2008 crisis, we are working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system – one that serves the economy and the nation as a whole and contributes to shared prosperity for all families and communities.
About ACCE Institute
The mission of the ACCE Institute is to improve the lives of California’s traditionally underserved residents, including communities of color, low-income and working families, and the undocumented population, by carrying out work that fosters deep, indigenous leadership development, policy creation, robust civic participation, and broad community empowerment.
For more than 40 years, HRCSF has counseled, advocated for, and organized alongside tens of thousands of tenants in San Francisco. Our counseling clinics see 5,000+ tenants per year, and our organizing work has produced tenant associations across the city and new laws benefitting all tenants in San Francisco.
Kathy Williamson, Office of Asm. Gipson: (323) 574-975, firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Maxey, CA Reinvestment Coalition: (559) 286-7705, email@example.com
Bob Keener, Institute of Policy Studies: (617) 610-6766, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carter Dougherty, Americans for Financial Reform: (202) 251-6700, email@example.com