Recently fellow public radio program "Reveal" has found that 30 percent of California's residential real estate purchases in major cities are being made by shell companies in cash. The situation appears to be very similar in Portland, as we’ve been covering for the past six months or so here on KBOO Wednesday Talk Radio.
Who exactly is behind these companies?
"Reveal," a nationally broadcast public radio show and investigative reporting podcast created by Center for Investigative Reporting, is suing the Treasury Department to find out based find out who owns them, based on coverage from Journalist Aaron Glantz, author of Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream.
Join us in discussing the current details of this matter with Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel at The Center for Investigative Reporting. She was previously a First Look Legal Fellow for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, legal counsel at the Wikimedia Foundation, and First Amendment fellow at The New York Times.
After graduating from Harvard Law School she received a master’s degree in philosophy from Oxford University and clerked for the Honorable Rosemary Pooler of the Second Circuit. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, a graduate degree from Columbia Journalism School, and currently, is a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. She is barred in California, New York and New Jersey. Baranetsky is based in the Center for Investigative Reporting's Emeryville, California, office.
Via initiating a Freedom of Information lawsuit against the U.S. government, Reveal seeks to make public the owners of these secretive shell companies that have been busily buying up an abundance of local real estate, and since so many units are vacant, apparently doing so with the intention of return-on-investment rather than actually living in them as a home; a roster likely including some familiar Wall Street hedge funds and “financial products” that looks very much like the formula that froze the world economy just a decade ago.
How long have they been this busy?
As we have suspected through covering this issue, our current affordability crisis is indeed intimately connected to the 2008 Financial Crisis and the actors at play during the bailouts that followed, the banks in question being directly funded by the U.S. taxpayers through the TARP program - and more controversially the Federal Reserve directly-- just after they had used federal construction programs to build up housing stock and saddle the public with mortgages nobody could ever afford.
Read Glantz's work at revealnews.org. Of particular interest: