Occupy Our Homes Atlanta, struggling homeowners, renters, and community members showed up on the Fulton Country Court steps on Tuesday February 5th as the foreclosure auction was taking place to confront investors and expose a troubling new trend being tested in the Atlanta housing market. Our communities have suffered enough from Wall Street’s greed.
The last time Wall Street devised a plan to make mountains of money off our homes it ended catastrophically. They’re back with a new plan and literally buying up our homes with millions of dollars at every foreclosure auction.
As the auction began we started playing a giant game of monopoly in front of the courthouse steps. Each game piece represented a private equity group that’s been snatching up foreclosed properties in Atlanta(many of which are occupied). We also held a press conference where four home owners who have faced or are facing foreclosure told their story.
At on point an investor was so angry at our presence that he came down from the steps, stomped through our custom monopoly game and assaulted me.
The wave of foreclosures that has swept metro Atlanta for the last few years shows few signs of slowing down. This Tuesday just like the first Tuesday of every month, hundreds of homes will be auctioned off to the highest bidder on the Fulton County courthouse steps as part of the monthly foreclosure auction. The Blackstone Group along with a growing number of private equity firms, hedge funds, and other institutional investors with deep pockets will have representatives there lining up to purchase up these homes at a discount. Their plan is to convert these homes into rental properties, package and trade the leases on Wall Street, and eventually sell off the properties once home prices go up. This scheme will permanently fragment our communities after the same people destroyed them with subprime loans.
The need to provide a return to investors will cause the price of rent on these properties to go up, and potential dominance of local markets will leave very little competition to challenge those prices, further decreasing the availability of quality affordable housing that Atlanta is starving for.
Op ed piece: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shabnam-bashiri/atlanta-blackstone-group_b_2617441.html
Blackstone youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynZx2Un34EU&feature=youtu.be