The Housing Market – Increasingly Controlled by Private Equity – Creating a Crisis [audio]

It’s not just the market in your city. Or your neighbourhood. Or your budget or financial situation. There’s a shadowy global financial practice at work that is fuelling the housing crisis in cities around the world. And nobody knows how to stop it.

Today we’ll explore the shady-but-legal practice of private equity firms approaching housing as a commodity for investment at scale, in cities around the world, including Canada. What happens when a dwelling that should be a forever home for a family becomes just a trade chip amongst tens of thousands of others, to be bought and sold solely based on profit margin? Nothing good, you would imagine. And you’d be right. But can cities and governments figure out a plan to stop it?

GUESTS: Leilani Farha, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing; and Fredrik Gertten, documentary filmmaker

(You can watch the trailer for their film, Push, and find out where it’s playing, right here)


Democratic Political Power and Massive Profits for Housing NYC’s Homeless

Landlords Under Fire for Raking in $188.7M for Housing NYC’s Homeless in Leased Properties

It was recently reported that New York City landlords, Jay and Stuart Podolsky are raising millions to house homeless New Yorkers after selling over 20 buildings to the city for a total of $173.5 million — more than the appraised value.

By: Marcus Tentrite

Financial documents show that the Brooklyn born brothers raked in approximately $188.7 million through the leasing of various properties over the last five years.

After selling 21 buildings to the city above market value, they will retain seven buildings to house the homeless — taking in millions of dollars.

New York City officials told the New York Post last Thursday that the program will cease to exist by December of 2020.

“As we continue our shelter transformation plan, we are phasing out all of their remaining shelter locations by the end of next year,” Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the City’s Department of Homeless Services, told The Post.

The brothers raked in massive profits by providing space to the city for the purpose of providing shelter to the city’s homeless population under two different programs — traditional shelters and “cluster” units.

The City’s purchase of the 20 plus apartment buildings in Brooklyn and the Bronx formalized the acquisition of the clusters that were owned by the Podolsky brothers and earned $48.6 million between July 2013 and June 2018.

The pair also leased eight buildings as additional shelters, where they made a larger profit — $140.1 million over the same five-year period of time.

Someone who is employed by the City of New York told The Post recently that they shut down one of the Podolsky standard shelters in December 2018, reducing the number of shelters owned by the pair to seven.

New York’s Department of Homeless Services never entered into an agreement directly with the brothers, but, rather signed contracts with nonprofit organizations which rented space in buildings owned by the pair and then billed City Hall for reimbursement.

The unusual payment relationship hid the amount of money which the brothers made in a relatively short period of time.

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The Torkian Group, Airbnb and Homeaway, Hurting the Housing Market in NY – Making Millions

New York City Sued Airbnb Operators For Allegedly Posing As Fake Hosts​

A $20.7 million lawsuit implicates a ring of real estate agents and companies posting multiple listings on sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO.

With De Blasio’s Worst Offenders also His Largest Donors, Landlords Are Likely Not Going to Be Held Accountable

De Blasio pitches plan to seize private property of problem landlords, opponents cry ‘communism’


Liberal New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is rolling out a new plan that would potentially allow the city government to seize buildings of landlords who force tenants out — a plan his opponents say amounts to “straight communism.”

De Blasio, in his State of the City address on Thursday, announced he wants to take action against landlords who try to force tenants out by making the property unliveable — and pulled out an executive order to create a Mayor’s Office to Protect Tenants. He said that in the event the government intervenes, the buildings would then be controlled by a “community nonprofit.”

“When a landlord tries to push out a tenant by making their home unlivable, a team of inspectors and law enforcement agents will be on the ground to stop it in time,” he said, according to the New York Daily News. “If the fines and the penalties don’t cut it, we will seize their buildings and we will put them in the hands of a community nonprofit that will treat tenants with the respect they deserve.”

According to the mayor’s website, the city is “pursuing new local law to seize upwards of 40 of the most distressed multiple dwelling buildings annually and transition them to responsible, mission driven ownership.”

The city reportedly has gone easy on problem landlords in the past. The New York Times reported last year that officials have taken a “gentle hand with landlords who deprive tenants of basic services, declining to enforce the maximum penalties for even the worst offenders,” detailing how “neglected repairs” end up forcing tenants out.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it,” de Blasio said in a statement. “While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay.”

In an interview with New York Magazine in 2017, he also expressed a desire for much more government control in development and rents, and cited a “socialist impulse.”


“I think people all over this city, of every background, would like to have the city government be able to determine which building goes where, how high it will be, who gets to live in it, what the rent will be,” he said. “Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed. And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents.”

On Sunday, he said in an interview that he wouldn’t rule out running for president in 2020, and urged the Democratic Party to take “bolder” positions similar to his own.

“There is still a lot of moderate voices in the party that did not learn the lessons of 2016 and are not listening to what people need in this country,” de Blasio said. “So I want to push this whole party, and I want to inform this debate in this country about the fact that we could go a lot further, we could be a lot bolder than what we’re doing now.”

Republicans, though, were disturbed by the extent of Hizzoner’s plan and charged the idea was more suited to communist dictatorships where land and property seizures are commonplace.

“My first reaction was: Is this communist Cuba?” state Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who ran against De Blasio in the 2017 mayoral race, told Fox News. “ I can say that as a daughter of Cuban refugees who fled Castro’s Cuba in 1959, this is what happened to her family, she had her home taken, my grandfather had his gas station taken.”

“This is extreme even for Mayor de Blasio, because we know that he has socialist leanings, but this is straight communism and I think it’s very scary to America-loving, democracy-loving people.”

Malliotakis said the proposal was also hypocritical of the mayor, as she says the city runs some of the worst housing via the NYC Housing Authority. She also expressed some doubt as to how his plan to seize property would fare.

“Any attempt to seize property will face a court challenge and the mayor himself comes up with these ideas, throws stuff out there and doesn’t know how he intends to make it happen,” she said. “It’s all rhetoric.”

To read the article in its entirety click here.

199 Lee Avenue? Crooked Landlords, 97 and 99 Clay Street, Forcing Tenants Out

Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them Out

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – An apartment battle in the Brooklyn between rent-stabilized tenants and their landlord is getting heated.

Residents claim they’re being forced out with a construction nightmare and now they’re fighting back.

CBS2 first told you about the tenants at 97 and 99 Clay Street last week. They claim their landlord is using construction to harass them in an effort to drive them from their rent-stabilized apartments.

They add they’ve enduring leaking ceilings, construction debris, and the threat of rats in their building. Now they’re rallying for their rights.

0114construction Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them Out

“The owners are sidestepping accountability,” tenant George Manatos said.

The property is run by a company called “Perfect Management,” under LJC Towers LLC, but the address leads to this shipping store filled with non-descript mailboxes.

“You can’t talk to a mailbox, there’s no one to talk to and they don’t want you talking to them, they don’t even want you know who they are,” Williamsburg resident Phil Smrek explained.

Smrek says he endured the same kind of abuse and knows the game landlords play all too well; especially when it comes to construction violations.

“I’ve seen them pay the fines like parking tickets, $5,000, $10,000… when you’re talking about $20 million  properties, a $5,000 fine is nothing so there has to be actual prosecution and prison time for these landlords.

CBS2 reached out to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development which investigates tenant harassment. The agency said it rejects “mail drop addresses” like this location.














“Many times they have the buildings listed under DOB with one owner and under HPD with a different owner. They drop letters in their last names, they change their spelling, it’s very shrouded, they’re under LLC’s.

CBS2 checked the address for LJC Towers LLC on the HPD website; it’s not at Lee Avenue where they claim, but a building on Manhattan Avenue that says Perfect Management on the door.

CBS2’s Valerie Castro rang their buzzer to ask some questions, but while she was waiting they turned the lights out.

0114lightsout Brooklyn Tenants Take Fight To Secretive Landlords They Claim Are Trying To Force Them Out

Then, despite seeing someone just inside the doorway, CBS2 was ignored by the building’s occupants.

A representative from state senator Julia Salazar’s office says it’ll likely take legislative action for things to change.

“We’re going to work on it, this is definitely something we’re focused on,” Alvin Pena claimed.

For now, tenants say they’ll keep fighting for their rights in Williamsburg.

To visit the full site click here.