Wall Street’s landlord business is turning every rental into a slum

And they’re using public money to do it.

Cory Doctorow
6 min readFeb 8, 2022


A rotting apartment living room; the Wall Street ‘Charging Bull’ statue is in one corner; from one of its horns dangles a sign reading ‘FOR RENT WALL ST.’ Image: Sam valadi (modified) https://www.flickr.com/photos/132084522@N05/17086570218/ Carlos Delgado (modified) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wall_Street_-_New_York_Stock_Exchange.jpg CC BY 2.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Shelter is a human right and a necessity for human thriving. The choice to turn speculation on our homes into a path to social mobility inevitably led to the crash of 2008 and 3.7 million US foreclosures.


In the Great Financial Crisis, the Obama administration chose to bail out banks, rather than borrowers, giving them the capital they needed to start buying those foreclosed homes in bulk. This was only accelerated by the Trump covid bailot, which sent trillions into the finance industry.


Wall Street landlords are the worst landlords. For years, the press has been documenting the Wall Street landlord playbook: deep cuts to maintenance that leave homes all but uninhabitable; scorching rent-hikes; and mass evictions any time a tenant balks at either measure.


Wall Street landlords are extracting never-seen levels of profit from their “investments” in our homes; some of that money is being laundered into policy that makes it possible for them to extract even higher profits. That’s the “political” in “political economy”: profits are turned into policy, policy increases profits.


The Wall Street landlord lobby has spent many of the millions it extracted from tenants to make those tenants’ lives worse — making eviction easier, getting rid of rent controls. All this in addition to the existing landlord’s leverage: “Do as I say, or live in a cardboard box.”


Much of the reporting on Wall Street landlords has focused on single-family homes (including my own). But today on Propublica, Heather Vogell gives us a deeply reported, enraging look at how private equity slumlords are using public money to buy up and destroy…



Cory Doctorow

Writer, blogger, activist. Blog: https://pluralistic.net; Mailing list: https://pluralistic.net/plura-list; Mastodon: @pluralistic@mamot.fr