Burbankers! Tell city council to enact a rent freeze between now and when statewide rent control kicks in

On Jan 1, 2020, Californians who rent will gain new protections under the law, thanks to AB 1482, which comes on the heels of the defeat of Prop 10, which was shattered by a lavishly funded dirty tricks campaign by the state's dominant private-equity landlords, who have snapped up much of the state's rental stock, driving up rents, evicting tenants, and slashing maintenance budgets. Read the rest

Across America, the average worker can't afford the median home

In 74% of US counties, the average worker can't afford the median home. It's getting worse: Six months ago, it was 71% of counties. The results come from Attom's new survey of house prices. Read the rest

A quarter of NYC's post-2013 luxury condos are unsold

The real estate bubble is in trouble: London's luxury housing market has been in freefall for years, and New York's retail vacancy has been soaring, even as global super-luxe housing is also tanking. Read the rest

Owner of Phoenix apartment building serves eviction notices to every tenant so he can turn their homes into unlicensed hotel rooms

Like many large US cities, Phoenix has a housing shortage and like many US cities, that crisis is worsened by the conversion of much of its housing stock into unlicensed hotel rooms through companies like Airbnb, VRBO, and Wanderjaunt, a new competitor in the unlicensed hotel room industry. Read the rest

2600's Hackers on Planet Earth con needs your help because the Hotel Pennsylvania has tripled its fees

Aestetix sez, "2600 Magazine has hosted the biennial Hackers On Planet Earth conference since 1994. However, for 2020 the host hotel, the Hotel Pennsylvania, has tripled the fee charged to the conference. Rather than raising ticket prices and making the event inaccessible to all but the rich, HOPE is reaching out to the community to help solve the crisis." Read the rest

The rent's less damned high: rents falling in most of America's most expensive cities

In all but a few of the most expensive cities in the USA, median rents on one- and two-bedroom apartments have fallen, sometimes quite sharply (for example, in NYC median asking rents on a one bedroom are down to $2940, a 12.8%/$430 decline from their peak in March 2016; while in Honolulu, rents are down 21.6% from their peak in Mar 2015, down to $1670 from $2130). Read the rest

Berlin Senate approves five-year, citywide rent freeze

The Senate of Berlin has approved a five-year, citywide rent freeze in a bid to halt the city's skyrocketing rents, driven by increased demand that has attracted large-scale corporate landlords who have acquired swathes of properties and raised rents on them, pricing tenants out of their own neighborhoods. Next, the bill proceeds to the Berlin Parliament for approval; it is expected to pass, and will go in effect in January, and apply retroactively to June (heading off any last-minute rent-hikes ahead of the freeze). Read the rest

Addressing inequality is foreign policy, not domestic

The scholarship on inequality has been producing a wealth of empirical findings about how inequality is created, expanded and perpetuated, building on the work of Thomas Piketty in tracing capital flows. Read the rest

Oakland's tech startups are reportedly being gentrified out of their spaces by deep-pocketed marijuana growers

Former Wired editor-in-chief and drone entrepreneur Chris Anderson tweets: "Hearing from tech startups getting priced out of Oakland warehouse space because of soaring demand for indoor hydroponic pot farms. Yes, because it's 2019 and everything is nuts *techies are being gentrified out of neighborhoods by drug dealers.*" Read the rest

Kleptocracy in America: Russian-style corruption, driven by global oligarchs, enabled by US elites

As Naomi Klein documents in her classic and seminal book The Shock Doctrine, disasters and upheavals are the bread-and-butter of global looters, who use the collapse of civil society or the default of debtor states to privatize state assets at pennies on the dollar, then milk them into further crises, which create more chances for looting -- but the collapse of the USSR was different, because the spies and strongmen who rode out that collapse ensured that public assets were only given to domestic looters, not off-shore oligarchs. Read the rest

The rent is too damned high because money-laundering oligarchs bought all the real-estate to clean their oil money

In an absolutely epic Twitter thread (unrolled here) author CZ Edwards lays out an incredibly compelling explanation of spiralling real-estate prices: oligarchs need to launder a lot of oil money -- think Russia, Iran, ex-Soviet basket-case states, Saudi -- and so they plow the money into offshore Real Estate Investment Trust that then cleans it by outbidding any actual real-estate investors or would-be homeowners, bidding up and snapping up all the property in desirable cities, and then realizing the rental income-flows as legitimate, clean money. Read the rest

Lin-Manuel Miranda rescues New York's beloved, century-old Drama Book Shop

For more than 100 years, New York City's Tony-award-winning Drama Book Shop has been a stalwart of the city's thronging theater community; but like so many independent bookstores, it has struggled (it recently announced that it would have to leave its Times Square location on January 20 due to rent hikes). Read the rest

How a millionaire slumlord got sweetheart government deals to maintain armed forces housing and then left them to rot

John Picerne is a hereditary one-percenter whose contribution to his family legacy of "real estate development" was to spend millions on lobbying, which landed him millions more in government loans earmarked for taking over the maintenance of 26,000 units of on-base military housing in 13 locations, with the repayment of the loans coming straight out of enlisted personnel's paychecks. Read the rest

Regulating Airbnb drives down local rents (as well as house prices)

Airbnb has led to much of the rental housing stock in some of the world's most expensive cities being turned into unlicensed hotel rooms, driving up both rents and house prices even further. Read the rest

Wells Fargo blames "computer glitch" for its improper foreclosure on 545 homes

According to Wells Fargo, a "computer glitch" caused the improper denial of 870 loan modification requests, which led to 545 foreclosures in which Wells Fargo customers lost their homes; the bank is now offering those former homeowners -- some of whom saw the breakup of their marriages as the result of the stress of foreclosure -- insultingly small sums, like $25,000. Read the rest

Obamacare study: 25% decline in home delinquencies among newly insured poor people

Poor people were not the primary target of Obamacare; as a group, their care is more likely to be "non-compensated" (trips to the emergency room while classed as "indigent" and unable to pay), so insurance shouldn't make a big difference to them, right? Read the rest

84% of stocks owned by richest 10% of Americans

Every time Trump reminds you that the stock market has experienced a feverish, tubercular bloom under his presidency, just recall that 84% of stocks are held by 10% of Americans. Read the rest

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