Award-winning author/journalist to speak about “Homewreckers,” the robber barons of housing
By Lou Fancher
Two-time Peabody Award-winning journalist and Pulitzer Prize finalist Aaron Glantz has a deep understanding of gentrification, exorbitant housing costs, perilous and often exploitive lending practices, longterm racial discrimination in residential real estate, and the loss, for millions of Americans, of a dream: to build capital and financial security for their families by owning a home.
In his new book, 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 (William Morrow), Glantz tells the stories of people robbed of their homes by 14 titans of the banking, investment, and real estate industries, some of whom are part of President Trump’s inner circle.
In a Nov. 7 appearance in Berkeley presented by KPFA Radio 94.1 FM and The Center for Investigative Reporting, Glantz will speak about middle-class working people across the country who were hit by the 2008 housing crisis and the financiers who profited off the foreclosures. The event at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Berkeley includes a Q&A and book signing.
Glantz is a vibrant storyteller. His detailed, meticulously researched, 398-page treatise is animated by personal accounts told with deep compassion, or, in the case of the “gluttonous few,” with vivacity, flare and drama. His streamlined explanations and historical and contemporary cultural references make understandable the complexities of reverse mortgages, lending, redlining, foreclosures, the New Deal and GI Bill, racial profiling in the housing market and why the nation’s largest banks, like Pasadena-based IndyMac, collapsed in 2008. The narrative makes it surprisingly easy to comprehend lending practices such as Alt-A mortgages, known as “liar loans” because banks didn’t bother to check a borrower’s veracity about assets or income.
Glantz offers ideas for addressing banking and investment companies’ vulture-like lending practices. Reducing through legislation the income inequities that contribute to homelessness and eliminating housing discrimination based on race, ethnicity or gender are just two suggestions. Maintaining the American Dream, he posits, will require collective aspiration, constant vigilance, and “substantial, systemic change.”