'Wall Street's Latest Real Estate Grab'

Seeing an opportunity for massive profits, private companies have snapped up homes and become corporate landlords in cities across the country.

1 minute read

March 10, 2020, 5:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Suburban Sidewalk

Alita Xander / Shutterstock

In a feature piece, Francesca Mari writes about the rise of the single-family-rental market, a vast network of private-equity firms drastically changing American cities:

Strategic Acquisitions was but one of several companies in Los Angeles County, and one of dozens in the United States, that hit on the same idea after the financial crisis: load up on foreclosed properties at a discount of 30 to 50 percent and rent them out. Rather than protecting communities and making it easy for homeowners to restructure bad mortgages or repair their credit after succumbing to predatory loans, the government facilitated the transfer of wealth from people to private-equity firms. 

It is a $60 billion real estate industry that has taken control of hundreds of thousands of homes, pushed moderate-income and middle-income people out of the housing market, and left renters struggling with deplorable housing conditions.

Mari details the trials and tribulations of one renter in California, who ended up renting the San Fernando Valley home he previously owned. She also describes the efforts of tenants who have organized and fought back against excessive fees, lack of maintenance, and evictions.

"In some communities, [the housing grab] has fundamentally altered housing ecosystems in ways we’re only now beginning to understand, fueling a housing recovery without a homeowner recovery," says Mari. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2020 in The New York Times Magazine

Green rapid transit bus pulled into station in dedicated lane.

Indiana Once Again Considering Ban on Dedicated Transit Lanes

The proposed legislation would impact the construction of planned IndyGo Blue Line, the third phase of the city’s bus rapid transit system.

February 25, 2024 - Fox 59

Aerial view of New York City architecture with augmented reality visualization, blue digital holograms over buildings and skyscrapers

4 Ways to Use AI in Urban Planning and City Design

With the ability to predict trends, engage citizens, enhance resource allocation, and guide decision-making, artificial intelligence has the potential to serve as planners’ very own multi-tool.

February 20, 2024 - ArchDaily

View from shore of Sepulveda Basin water catchment basin with marsh plants along shore.

LA’s ‘Spongy’ Infrastructure Captured Almost 9 Billion Gallons of Water

The city is turning away from stormwater management practices that shuttle water to the ocean, building infrastructure that collects and directs it underground instead.

February 25, 2024 - Wired

Aerial view of downtown San Antonio, Texas.

Commentary: San Antonio Needs ‘Thoughtful Reforms’ to Improve Affordability

The growing Texas city needs a new approach to meet its residents’ housing and mobility needs.

4 minutes ago - San Antonio Report

Aerial view of glass high-rise buildings on waterfront in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Video: How Tall Should Buildings Be?

Is there an ideal height — or should buildings be as tall as they need to be to fulfill housing needs?

1 hour ago - Next City

Silver train at station on elevated track with city high-rises in the background.

How Federal Policy Can Encourage TOD

Tying transit and land acquisition funding together could help produce more housing near transit hubs.

2 hours ago - Urban Institute

Senior Planner

Heyer Gruel Associates

Regional Transportation Planner

Crater Planning District Commission

Senior Planner- Long range

Prince William County Planning Office

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.