Media coverage

Popular Information : Squatting hysteria distracts from affordable housing crisis

April 17, 2024

A piece in Popular Information contrasts recent reporting on a so-called “explosion” in squatting cases with the very real affordable housing crisis plaguing tenants across the United States. 

Popular Information, March 26, 2024: “Inside the squatting hysteria”

While outlets from Fox News to the Joe Rogan podcast have claimed that squatting is becoming exponentially more prevalent, the data to support such claims is hard to come by. This reporting trend distracts from the affordable housing crisis in the U.S. and the asymmetrical power dynamic between landlords and tenants, according to the authors. The mere threat of an eviction by a landlord can provoke a tenant to leave, given that a record of an eviction can make securing housing far more difficult for tenants. 

The article also cited PESP’s 2023 report on Progress Residential: 

“Aside from evictions, during the pandemic, experts reported “a decline in services and repairs, an increase in monthly fees, and a dramatic rise in rents.” Progress Residential – the largest single-family rental in the U.S. and one of the four companies investigated by Congress in 2021 – has been accused of neglecting basic home maintenance. A 2023 study by the Private Equity Stakeholder Project and Center for Popular Democracy found Progress Residential’s “[t]enants have reportedly experienced broken AC units in the middle of summer, sewage backing into their yards, severe mold, electrical hazards, lack of smoke detectors, broken locks, and more – often in violation of the law.”

Private equity landlords have been known to contribute to the affordable housing crisis by jacking up rents and ramping up evictions. PESP’s 2023 report on Blackstone’s aggressive tactics examined how the firm exacerbated difficulties for tenants seeking housing in the San Diego area.

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