“Ooh well the storm is threatening, my very life’s at stake. Gimme gimme shelter before I fade away . . .” Such go the words of the Rolling Stones, circa 1969.
Has anything changed since then? Well, according to writer David Dayen, in his fine recent article in Salon.com, yes, things are spiraling downward for us working stiffs in Amerika.
Dayen reports:“The Wall Street rental scheme, the mass purchase of 200,000 single family homes by hedge funds and private equity firms to convert to rental properties, has run into trouble . . . complaints from renters have proliferated, alleging that A) repairs go unaddressed B) leases violate local tenant ordinances and C) unnecessary evictions often occur due to negligence . . . The plan to sell bonds backed by revenue from the rental properties has also stumbled . . . suggesting that homes aren’t being occupied at a level necessary to make the deal work.”
So, how do the Wall Street landlords rectify this mess? Well, they create this National Rental Home Council to propagandize American renters with the ‘wonders’ of absentee landlords, especially big corporate ones. Dayen reports the giant Wall Street predators that back this new council went out and hired a “lobbying shop made up of veterans of the Clinton White House!” This company, the Glover Park Group, founded by former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart, has represented a large number of corporate clients over the years, earning a new high (for them) of $7 million in 2013, mostly from the banking and real estate sector. So much for our two-party system of adversarial politics. The more one checks the facts, the more one sees both Democratic Party hacks and Republican Party ones leaving government service and working for the Fat Cats.
Is there a solution to this mess? Of course there is, if only the majority of we working stiffs out there, who make up the 99% that so many grassroots movements refer to, would demand the following changes:
Local Community owned and operated Rental Housing
If our local communities owned and operated rental housing on a nonprofit basis, the cost of renting would perhaps be 20 To 40% less than now. Plus, if the tenant were given the opportunity to use part of the monthly rental towards a down payment on buying the rented home or apartment in the near future . . . wouldn’t the property be better maintained by all involved?
A caveat: this writer had been a renter most of his life. In every instance the landlord would do as little as need be to maintain the apartment, including giving proper heat during the cold winters. The last apartment my new wife and I rented (in 1992) was the upstairs of an old house on Long Island, New York. The apartment was not only expensive ($ 1000 a month for 800 square feet with not even a banister for the stairs; my 80 year old mother could not thus visit us) but in need of a new refrigerator and bathtub. Our landlord was a man who owned 19 other properties in the area, and did as little as possible to upkeep them. When my elderly neighbor renting the downstairs apartment scolded me for not picking up the pears that fell from the tree in our yard and were rotting on the ground out back, I retorted “When our landlord gives me a break in this outrageous rent and gets us a new refrigerator and bathtub, I would be more than happy to take better care of this dump!
By the way, due to the shortage of affordable rental units in our area, the week we finally did move out the apartment was rented for $1100 a month—with the same refrigerator and bathtub! Perhaps when our national financial priorities are adjusted and even one quarter of the obscene military spending of over 50% of federal taxes goes back to the states and cities, money will be available to jumpstart such a program.
Community owned and operated Mortgage banks
You want what all these phony politicians refer to as economic stimulus? One step toward that goal is for the local town, city or county to open up nonprofit mortgage banks. These local institutions would only charge overhead in their mortgage rates, and keep the mortgage paper in house.
Imagine paying a rate of perhaps half of whatever the current mortgage banks charge. Imagine how much easier it would be for many working stiffs to not have to rent anymore and actually own their apartment or home. Now, let’s extend the thought and imagine how many more new homes would be needed along with how many older homes and apartments would want remodeling done.
This writer works as a sales rep for a sanding belt manufacturer, selling direct to cabinet makers nationwide. For at least seven years the industry has been in deep depression. Many of our cabinet shop customers (mostly all Mom and Pop businesses) are either gone or working part time as things are that depressed! Imagine how many more orders these shops would have for cabinets and other woodworking if more Americans could now afford a mortgage.
With the savings staying into the pocket of the new homeowner and not in that of some corporate mortgage lender, we would have more construction, more jobs, more peripheral materials needed, which translates into more money for we working stiffs to earn, spend, invest and save . . . better known as ECONOMIC STIMULUS!
In conclusion, to quote the rock group from my baby boomer era, Badfinger: “If you want it here it is come and get it . . .”
Philip A Farruggio is son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC, longshoremen. He is a free lance columnist (found on TheSleuthJournal.com, Worldnewstrust.com, Democratic Underground, The Intrepid Report ,Nation of Change, The Peoples Voice, Information Clearing house, Dandelion Salad, Activist Post, Dissident Voice and many other sites worldwide). Philip works as an environmental products sales rep and has been an activist leader since 2000. In 2010 he became a local spokesperson for the 25% Solution Movement to Save Our Cities by cutting military spending 25%. Philip can be reached at email@example.com.