Corporate Takeover of the American Dream
It’s no secret that the American Dream, of a single-family home with a white picket fence, is out of reach for the vast majority of Americans, especially Black and brown people. But did you know that large corporations are buying up homes in growing cities, quietly pushing that dream further and further out of sight?
Large companies and investment firms have been strategically purchasing homes in communities across the country, putting forward lucrative all-cash offers that make it much more difficult for working and middle-class families to compete. These companies either flip the homes for a profit or rent them out to the same families who now have been pushed out of the home buying market. With both of these practices, corporate owners of single-family homes are undermining the largest wealth producer for middle-class families and exacerbating inequality.
Not only are institutional investors ramping up this purchasing practice, but tech companies are getting in on it too. Even in the wake of Zillow’s announcement that they are getting out of the home buying market, housing-focused tech companies like Opendoor and Rocket Homes are moving forward full steam ahead. Armed with cash and consumer data, these companies are taking this flipping scheme to the next level. We are also seeing the digital (re)emergence of a troubling historical practice called “contracts for deed” which puts less financially stable families into predatory arrangements as they desperately pursue the dream of homeownership.
On Thursday, January 27th at 12-1pm PT, we’ll be tackling these predatory practices. We’ll hear from experts about the far-reaching impacts of corporate homeownership and what public policy and corporate practices can be implemented to make the American Dream attainable once again.
The webinar will be moderated by Hannah Holloway, Senior Policy Manager of TechEquity. Panelists include:
- Elena Botella, Reporter and Principal at Omidyar
- Leah Simon-Weisberg, Legal Director at ACCE
- Webinar kicks off at 12:00 PM
- Panel discussion begins at 12:05 PM
- Q&A from attendees from 12:40-1:00 PM
Thanks to Blend for sponsoring this event. This webinar is hosted on Zoom; register for free to get access to the webinar link. We can’t wait to see you there!
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About the Panelists
Elena Botella is a principal at Omidyar Network, where she’s working on reform of capital markets and corporate governance. Prior to joining Omidyar Network, Elena Botella was an independent writer and researcher, whose work on private equity, housing, and the financial sector appeared in Slate, Vice, Forbes.com and other outlets. Her book Delinquent: Inside America’s Debt Machine is forthcoming from University of California Press in September 2022.
Leah Simon-Weisberg is an expert and statewide leader on rent control, landlord-tenant law, and anti-displacement policy. She is presently the Legal Director for Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE.) She represented Moms 4 Housing in court, fighting for their right to live in an empty corporate-owned home on the grounds that Housing is a Human Right. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, she organized elected officials to pass eviction moratoria, including a permanent ban on the eviction of tenants for the inability to pay rent accrued during the pandemic.
As the Directing Attorney of the Tenant Rights Practice at Centro Legal de la Raza, Oakland, she oversaw the anti-displacement programs for the County of Alameda and City of Oakland. She wrote and directed policy initiatives which led to historic increases in rent control and just cause for eviction protections in Oakland and across Alameda County.
Leah was a founding board member of Tenants Together and became the Legal Director. She managed the statewide litigation practice which included class action and multi-plaintiff fair housing, habitability, tenant contract and consumer rights matters. She regularly provided technical assistance on rent control and tenant protections during the foreclosure crisis. Leah joined the historic fight to pass new rent control ordinances in November 2016. The ordinance she drafted for Richmond, California passed and marked the first new rent control ordinance in almost 30 years.
Before attending law school at Northeastern University, School of Law, Leah worked for Senator Barbara Boxer in her San Francisco Office and served as a Peace Corp Volunteer in Morocco. She graduated from Earlham College and majored in Peace and Global Studies. She speaks Spanish, Moroccan Arabic, and French.
She is the Chair of the Elected Berkeley Rent Board.