Tenants call on CalPERS to halt investments in Blackstone due to role in fueling housing crisis
Tenants of Blackstone-owned properties spoke at a November 13 meeting of the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) and called on the retirement fund to halt future investments in Blackstone, the largest landlord in the U.S. with over 300,000 rental units.
The tenants, who are members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) described the problems they have faced since Blackstone purchased over 5,000 rental units in the San Diego metro area in 2021. ACCE released a report earlier this year with the Private Equity Stakeholder Project (PESP) showing that Blackstone had raised rents in some units in San Diego between 43% – 64% in two years.
“Many of our members have testified about living in Blackstone properties and have complained about conditions of mold, roaches, plumbing problems. Obviously putting profit before people,” said Barbara Pinto, who is 77 years old and retired after working 35 years for the San Diego school district. Pinto, a former Blackstone tenant, told the CalPERS board that she had no choice but to move out after Blackstone raised her rent $200/month. “I am appalled that this organization would invest in this sort of company.”
“Since Blackstone bought my apartment complex, they’ve increased my rent by $300. I pay 75% of my income to rent. The reason I’m here today is to tell you to please stop investing any more money with Blackstone. While they become millionaires, please like me with low incomes are about to become homeless with our children. That should not be happening,” Iraides Gonzalez, a single mother of three children told CalPERS. “It is not fair to have work weekends and holidays when everyone is off, and I have to work to make ends meet to pay the rent. We also have the right to dedicate more time to our children. Please no more investment in Blackstone.”
“The housing crisis is getting worse every day, and Blackstone is playing a huge role in making things worse,” Patricia Mendoza, from ACCE San Diego told CalPERS how Blackstone’s political involvement has harmed Californians. “In the past few years Blackstone has spent millions of dollars to stop rent control and tenant protections at the local and state level. In 2020, Blackstone was the number one donor against Prop 15, the Schools and Communities First Initiative. Not only are they making the housing crisis worse, they are also using their money to prevent our schools and communities from having the resources they need. Housing is a human right, but for Blackstone it’s just a way to make more money.”