Summary of Book, "Stealing Home: How Artificial Intelligence Hijacked the American Dream" By James M. Nelson
For most Americans, their home is the largest investment they own and is the family budget's biggest expense. However, so few Americans have any idea about how the Housing Markets work. Nevertheless, the 2008 Great Recession saw over 10 million Americans lose their homes; they too had no idea how the programs worked.
Our current housing programs originated under Roosevelt's New Deal meant as a benefit to the American people. The successful programs became enshrined in the Housing Act of 1949, the predecessor to The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Act is best remembered for its declaration that every American deserves a "decent home and a safe living environment." To make this happen, the Act grants Congress the authority to intervene in the markets.
I. The Affordable Housing Crisis.
There is a major crisis in the market for affordable housing in this country, with debt backed by the governments' guarantee reaching over $7 trillion-the most in US history and far more than in 2008. Compare that to the fact that America has a crippling shortage of over 7 million affordable housing rental units. The book also details that homelessness is a ten-step process engineered by the Property Managers to maximize property owners' profits.
The book answers the question of why the crisis exists, who and what is responsible, and what we can do about it, as consumers, tenants, and concerned citizens.
II. Property Managers use Artificial Intelligence to Set the Rates of Rent in the Multi-Family Markets.
The Multifamily rental market in metropolitan areas has experienced a dramatic surge in prices over the past decade. Many casual observers believe this surge's cause is the rapid influx of new residents in urban areas, i.e., an increase in demand. However, my economic study found that Property Managers have implemented the practice of Rental Rate Price Fixing by employing the AI technology platform RealPage to manipulate the rate of rents charged.
The supposedly competitive property managers and landlords share private information on tenants and the decision-making algorithm through the platform. The Studies I performed found a correlation between the use of AI technology and the skyrocketing rental rates in metropolitan markets and the ballooning homelessness in these same markets.
III. The Privatization of The Government Sponsored Enterprises—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Furthermore, a correlation exists between the Trump Administration's role in dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its drive to privatize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These two government agencies back up a high percentage of the mortgages and housing loans in America. What ties all of this together: Artificial Intelligence-driven technology. With the CFPB dead, there's no threat of oversight. The public is left defenseless in a runaway housing market fueled by corporate greed without regulatory oversite and enforcement.
Furthermore, the book details the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) decision to change the Disparate Impact Rule. The new rule makes it far more onerous to prove discrimination in housing. A move that fair housing advocates claim is part of the Trump administration's effort to gut federal protections against housing discrimination. Also, the rule allows third-party providers (including the RealPage platform) to hide the discrimination within the technology algorithms—and now HUD is acquiring the RealPage platform. The Disparate Impact Rule, if enacted, the new rule essentially provides an immunity bath for discrimination cases against RealPage and its property manager subscribers.
This is the wake-up call we didn't know we needed.
This is the wake-up call we didn't know we needed, coming from a banking insider who's taking an enormous personal risk to show us in stark terms just how much worse things could get. The time has arrived for Americans to address the challenges of AI before it challenges us. Nelson shows us the first steps in taking back our housing markets.
"Nelson's righteous anger makes this book a must-read for not only those in the real estate and banking industries, but also for anyone who seeks to understand why, in the words of activist Jimmy McMillan, 'Rent Is Too Damn High.' The author combines the indignation and passion of an activist with the technical knowledge of a seasoned banker."
- Kirkus Reviews