Behind the Shadows: Corporate Real Estate’s Covert War on America’s Homeless

corporate developers are hiring private security to criminalize homeless people

How Corporate Developers Are Using Private Security to Criminalize Homelessness

We have long associated corrupt corporate entities like the Cicero Institute with pushing homeless criminalization policies. We’ve even named the mainstream media and multiple politicians as being complicit or active participants in waging war on America’s poorest population. 

While all this is true, those listed above are not the only culprits.

Investigative research shows big-time real estate developers are also criminalizing homelessness. It’s a bitter irony, considering that they are responsible for causing homelessness in the first place.

Large Real-Estate Developers Are Single-Handedly Squeezing the Middle-Class Out of Housing

One of the biggest drivers of homelessness is the pricing out of middle-income earners from the prospect of home ownership. This coming generation of Americans faces unprecedented obstacles that deter them from purchasing homes. Some of these obstacles include:

  • Skyrocketing house prices
  • Stagnant wages
  • Astronomical insurance rates
  • Soul-crushing inflation and more

While all of the hurdles mentioned above stem from social system failures, another, more active hurdle is being placed between many Americans and their dreams of home ownership. That hurdle is none other than the massive institutional investor.

Armed with funding from the infamous Big Bank Bailout, corporate entities like Wall Street, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and American Homes 4 Rent are scooping up residential real estate at unfathomable rates. These corporate magnates are projected to own an astonishing 40% of all single-family rental homes by 2030.

“What will they do with all that property?” you might wonder.

If their actions foreshadow future events, they will likely raise rents without abandon until the average prices more than quadruple the median wage. They will then evict residents by the millions, leaving them with poor credit and poor choices for future rental prospects.

Lastly, they will send their own private security teams out onto the streets to harass the homeless people who are too poor to afford to live in their buildings anymore. These private guards will stalk the streets, policing public parks and benches, effectively turning the city sidewalks into corporate-owned versions of police states.

At least, that’s what they’re doing right now.

Corporate Developers Are Now Hiring Private Security Teams to Harass Homeless People Near Their Properties

According to The Messenger, these powerful corporate real estate developers will stop at nothing to maintain their pristine, upscale appearances, even if it means hiring private patrol teams.

The fact that they are doing this so brazenly, so openly, despite the many legal breaches associated with patrolling city blocks with people who are not law enforcement officials, is very telling. Experts note there is a huge difference between hiring a security guard to protect a building and using that security guard to intimidate people on that city block.

Of course, this is all being done under the guise of public safety. But here’s the kicker – private security guards pose a danger to the public. So do unaffordable rental rates. Yet these high-end developers, with portfolios and reputations to protect, care only about the bottom line.

The Very Real Threats Posed by Private Security Teams and Unaffordable Rental Rates

The financialization of housing (i.e., when the primary purpose of housing becomes profit rather than communal stability) is ironically connected to the Great Recession. In 2008, when the American government chose to bail out the banks instead of the people, housing went from a human right to a corporate investment. This shift cost countless lives, and it devastated much of the middle class.

“Any time people’s basic needs are met, violence goes down — that’s not new,” nonprofit organizer Noreen McClendon told reporters at the New York Times.

Housing is one of those basic needs that reduces violence when it is fulfilled. Raising rents to the point where 40% of Americans are now rent-burdened poses a perilous threat to the safety of society because it makes the basic need of housing scarce for a large portion of the population.

When you add armed guards patrolling street corners, you are serving whole cities a recipe for more crime – not less crime.

Private security guards are not trained to deal with sensitive situations such as abject poverty and homelessness. They are notorious for exacerbating situations like this.

Take, for example, the case of 35-year-old Angel Davis, a woman who was shot in the head during what might have otherwise been a routine eviction. The shooter represented a private security team hired by the landlord conducting the eviction.

As new evidence emerged, it became clear that the private security squad that the landlord hired was involved in three shootings over four months. Imagine what would happen if the streets in cities everywhere were rampant with these kinds of private contractors who lack training and are notorious for being trigger-happy. Nothing about this denotes public safety.

Imagine a scenario where public safety is not the purpose of security guards, and housing people is not the purpose of building homes. You don’t have to try too hard because this is the world we are already living in. Just open your eyes and look around.

Talk to Your Lawmakers About the Criminal Actions of these Corporate Landlords

Creating homelessness by raising rental rates and then policing city streets for signs of vagrancy is perhaps the most underhanded new housing trend to date. Please urge your local lawmakers to pass legislation that protects renters from predatory actions and makes housing a human right for all.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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