« Reveal

Homewreckers (Rebroadcast)

2020-05-16 | 🔗

After the housing bust, a group of men profited by destroying the American dream of homeownership for hundreds of thousands of families. On Reveal, we learn how these Homewreckers did it and expose how that’s putting our economy at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This episode originally was broadcast Oct. 19, 2019.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey this is out, and before we get into this week, show I want to tell you about the new season of the true crime. Podcast, someone knows something it's a story about love and loss, and the long search for the truth, and I mean more the last time, Deborah's Kelly spoke with her son Donald was mother's day, one thousand nine hundred and ninety five. He was a college student on a cross country trip. You sound, upset and said he needed money. Then the phone did the french police. He dropped down aloft in New Orleans, but Deborah suspected he was murdered. So she started castigating? What really happened, and it's an emotional rollercoaster you can check out. Someone knows thing from the sea BC, wherever you get your pockets
from the sooner for investigative reporting in p r ex. This is reveal a lesson and I don't have to tell you. The corona virus has thrown our country into an economic crisis. Tens of millions are out of work. Many can pay their mortgage. Whether rent as a line from miles if food banks, but there are people who see an economic crisis as an opportunity, there's area the economy is, is the best thing that ever as occurred. That's treasury secretary Malnutrition. In March, I look back at people who bought stocks after the financial. Prices for long term investors. This will be a great investment opportunities, monitions, leaving the country's economic rescue efforts he's overseeing a five hundred billion dollar corporate bailout package. Democrats like
Senator Bob Menendez are calling that slush fund. Basically, the secretary of the Treasury can say I like you, you get this, I don't like you, you get nothing, there's no transfer I say we ve been following manoeuvre for a long time. Is a Wall Street guff who cashed in on the housing bust a decade ago. He's one of president trumps friends who made a killing back. Then sucking up the wealth of millions of Americans. O group under reveals during glance, wrote a book about it's called homeworkers. Last fall. We air this show based on an errand. He visited the park avenue. Carbon building where many of them live. Seven forty park avenue its known as the world's richest apartment building its gorgeous our deco building built back in the nineteen
Twenties Treasury secretaries diminution lives there, so dusty swordsmen found of black, so the giant private equity for Mobile Tom Barrack, one of Donald Trump closest friends. He has an important the neighbour to these are some of the men who have trumps ear during the covert pandemic. So this out we're gonna, be talking about those people who live in that building on park avenue and how their connected to house nearly three thousand miles away. It's in a suburb, just north of LOS Angeles, Aaron paid a visit Six hundred and eighty one Benson way is the sort of home that you'll find all over America. It's one thousand five hundred square feet built in nineteen sixty five. It has a two car garage decorative wooden shutters in the small patch of lawn with a lemon tree out front.
I've come here because all those homeworkers made money off this simple, suburban home and it all started with an ad. I. This is James Charter for financial freedom. It was two thousand five and Richard Dickerson was sitting in the living room of this house in his overstuffed brown, easy chair, his golden retriever at his side, his wife, but She was a few feet away sitting on the sofa they had lived here for decades now, in their late seventies, they were spending a lot of time. Just like this, watching tv if you're, sixty, two or older, and on your own home I'd like to talk to you about something you should know the pitch man was one of dicks favoured actors from the seventies. Is called a reversed mortgage to save pleasing waiting quickly. Turn your home equity and of tax free buddy, you're, home owners you two are older one or give financial freedom. Who knows it might just change your life to Dickens pressure had worked and save their whole lives. They had three hundred
thousand dollars in the bank. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and equity in the house on Benson Way, but Dick was worried about the future so when he saw the ad dic dial the number on his screen, and soon a salesman arrived at their door with a red white and blue Powerpoint presentation. The last slide read so you ask: what's the catch none Diccon Patricia signed on the dotted line, Now, Dick and Patricia weren't living alone there, oldest daughter, Sandy Jolly, had moved home to live with her parents. They asked me if I would come home. My dad was suffering from terminal cancer, He was on narcotic pain medication and he was doing king heavily for the pain in my mom had Alzheimer's. She couldn't do numbers or
anything moving home was a big change for Sandy. She was a fierce independent woman, when she was nineteen. She turn off with an airline pilot and became a flight attendant back when they used to call them stewardesses. She in the pilot had a child together then worst Sandy raised. Her daughter is a single mother. She was worth in India managing Non profit when her parents got sick and she came home sandy and moved home to protect her parents, but they signed the reverse mortgage without even telling her and then he weeks later, something horrible happened. Dick went into the hospital for yet another surgery. Four came out of intensive care, Dick ended up dying in the hospital that just weighed on my heart. It was So dramatic, I can't even tell you Sandy was grieving, but
he still had to care for her mother and she had to sort out the family finances. So Sandy and her sister went upstairs to her parents, home office and open the drawers, and so we started going through all the files, the file cabinet, what she found in that I'll cabinet. It would spark a ten year battle between Sandy and homeworkers, and I found fourteen pages of a reverse. Mortgage contract, my sister and I decided we were gonna, find out what the heck is. This her father had just died, dialing this more Company was the last thing Sandy wanted to do, but she found herself on the phone day after day. I started calling the reverse mortgage company and said this money is sitting in the bank. We have no use for it. We need our property, chick for my mom, and I want to give it back and they refused
and I refuse to more times after that are reversed, mortgage allow seniors to take money out of their homes and in exchange when they die the bank can take the house at the time. The house on Benson Way was worth about half a million dollars financial freedom paid what was left on deck and Patricia Mortgage about a hundred twenty thousand and put eighty thousand dollars and their savings account. Moneyed they'd never need to pay back, but the company also charge them twenty thousand dollars and fees every month. Thereafter there be more fees and the interest would compound and after they both died, financial freedom would be able to take the house. This was during the housing bubble. Homes prices skyrocketing and banks were hell bent on taking as many loans as possible,
no matter how improbable that is. Until the party ended, anger and high anxiety, where the prevailing emotions outside branches of the failed Indy MAC Bank out in California bill would event reversed. Mortgage company financial freedom. It was part of a huge bank called endemic. You might remember from its infamous downfall during the financial crisis. The federal government, in the form of the federal deposit parents corporation or at the icy stepped into take it over now, the government was in the unpleasant position of owning this disaster of a bank and more customers. John so on the streets of Pasadena Bank. When you It is in Washington, where scrambling to at the centre of the crisis was Sheila Bear Chair of the F B. I see a Republican from Kansas she'd been when did by George W Bush Sheila bears job, was to safeguard consumer deposits, which meant stabilizing
banks. The last thing she wanted was to keep Indy MAC on the government's books. It was one of the word so, the worse eminent and unless, as long as there is a lot about a lot of bad mortgage lending going around, it was the sum I have two thousand eight. The economy was teetering and Vila Bear was stuck with India back. She put it up for auction and waited for bitters, but the entire banking industry was collapsing and she could and find one that wanted to buy it. I will constantly say of the options we had. We pick the best. What this week with Edward always good options, will you had one better. So you picked up for you. That's right is within the only bitter, was an investment group headed by Steve managing years before he beat President trumps Treasury secretary manoeuvre, was just a hedge fund. Guy who'd once worked for Goldman Sachs. He lived in that opulent apartment building on park, avenue that we told you about earlier.
He was mostly known as the Son of Robert mention a top executive. It Goldman. This was Steve's big chance to do a deal on his own here's how he described years later on CNBC it one of the most part aspects of life, career was buying Indy MAC. During the financial crisis, we bought it from the government in a highly competitive six month auction and we saved a lot of this- was a great deal from in each in his group paid the government nothing in exchange. They got the bank headquarters in Pasadena. Thirty, three bank brand just across southern California, in six billion dollars worth of deposits, and they got all of Indy MAX loans, including billions of dollars worth of reverse mortgages, among them the one Sandy's parents
bout, while malnutrition and his group didn't pay the government anything in an email to reveal. He noted that they did invest one point: six billion dollars in the bank. I wanted to ask Venetian more about this, but he never agreed to be. Interviewed. Even all these years later. Sheila Bear tells me that was the best deal. The government could get but you basically sold it for zero dollars. Right people like that you know well what you saw the for nothing. We saw it in. Turn for it wasn't a modest wizard check. They wrote as what they were. They were standing behind. They resume in all of those liabilities that otherwise we were gonna happen, yearn to yourself. She says Indy MAC loans were so bad that the government would have lost a fortune if it had to pay off all that bad debt itself, so even four zero dollars says Steve Manoeuvre was doing us all a big favor, but here's the thing when Steve Maneuver
in four closed on a family like Sandy's and law. Money. The government promised to pay almost all the difference, but actually with their agreements, as is that, if they lose money, then you'll subsidize that two right, when I last put the music higher. If we had not off of the washer cuz they've, been they I even taken. I showed her a copy of the deal. It's thirty eight pages long, but in this case the gun, when it's gonna pick up the loss and not only the loss alone, but also you know it says here: the accrued interest, attorneys fees, foreclosure, cost property protection It's an insurance appraisal, costs inspection costs, we're subsidizing. All of this. So I think it's easy to years after to D say: oh you couldn't do this this in this differently. She says the government had been handling bang take overs this way. As far back as the ninety navies. Lila Bear notes. She did get signature. We agreed to one thing to help the people on the other. And of all those bad looms. Shipping
This is a major victory for homeowners. You'll basically invented mortgage modification programmes which were supposed to help regular people like, Andy Jolly, who are caught in the middle of a national economic catastrophe by this point if it be nearly four years since Andy's father died and she taken the bank to court Now she hoped that with new ownership and a mortgage modification deal in place, the bank might work with her. I stood outside the courthouse issued scribe. The case all those years I kept holding out the hope that justice could be served. Sandy didn't get a mortgage modification. Instead, she got a year's long court battle, under many leadership, the bank fought back hard,
the central issue. Whether Sandy's parents had the mental capacity to sign the loan. The bank hired an expert witness who examined Sandy's. Mother when he interviewed her, Patricia couldn't remember what day the weak. It was, the name of her dog or even how many legs cow has the way I saw this case may be in my naive way was that it was slam dunk, but on the stand, the bank's medical experts testified that Sandy's mother, dear they have the mental capacity designer reverse mortgage. The case didn go to trial until two thousand and eleven by that point, Sandy's mother had died in the bank's attorneys. They painted. MR picture of Sandy's relationship with her parents. They called me Freeloader living off my parents that I moved in with my parents, because I lost my job and that I was
greedy, evil, child who wanted the property, and I didn't care one whit about my parents- that I didn't love them at all. The jury sided with the bank after the trial The foreman signed a sworn affidavit saying Although a majority of the jury members thought the bank committed fraud, it didn't matter because sandy Father, wanted the reverse mortgage. Accordingly, the bank's lawyer, her dad even hung the salesman. The bank's attorneys had done a good job. Norman, said that by the end of the trial, most the jury didn't like Sandy Jolly several said they just didn't want her to get her parents house, the bank, had success Hollywood sandy on trial, she lost in court, but a fight was just beginning. He who can stain. The most pain wins This is my investment philosophy. When we come back, we made another.
Record who also found a way to profit off the house on Benson Way. That's Exxon reveal from the centre for investigative reporting, MP or X from the centre for investigative reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a mallet today, we're talking about a handful of people. Made a ton of money by destroying the american dream or calling them home wreckers. Their close to President Trump live close to Trump town, a bunch of them even live in the same building. Seven forty park avenue earlier, we mention the Treasury, say
The terrorists diminution lose their, at least when he's not at one of his other homes in Scotland Bel AIR or Washington DC during the housing. Bust manoeuvring got the nickname the foreclosure king, the federal government paid him more than a billion dollars when his bank for closed on tons of hopes. The women we ve been following Sandy Jolly lived in. One of those hopes have been in a family for generation. Before the break, we heard how Sandy lost her court battle with Monitions Bank. She refused to give up, reveals airing glance picks up the story. There Sandy was one of more than a hundred thousand families, including twenty three thousand had reverse mortgages that Monitions Bank foreclosed on. To her court battle sandy kept living in the house on Benson Way and on April,
second, twenty thirteen. When the house, when on the auction block she showed him, the auction was out the same court house where she had lost a trial. This spring we went there together. And he told me how she had arrived and our early clutching a large packet of paperwork, a crowd of potential buyers with clipboards gathered on the patio outside the building? They were waiting for the bidding to open on her home and at least a dozen others, and it was mostly men. I started talking to them and I handed them. My flyer said all reasons why they should not purchase this house. For the most part it work, people bid or another homes. But then a woman came walking up. She was short.
I don't know five feet, maybe less. She had a suitcase with her and she set up her little table. I've never seen one like this. It had a bench and it had it death she plugged in everything plug dinner, Bluetooth, had her cell phone and started making Paulson and setting up or computer, and I was intimidated by her, but what I can it be put off. I came over to her and I wanted to hand her one of my papers and she wouldn't take it. The bidding started at three hundred fifteen thousand dollars. She opened a bed and then one other person did something, and then she bit ten thousand dollars over it, and that was that she brought the house for three hundred thirty thousand dollars right. I kept asking her. You know what.
Gonna happen. Who you know who are? You do have a card and she said Don't worry, you'll be contacted, I stayed here while she packed it all up. Air her computer, Blue Bluetooth, all of it Sandy walked back to her car then sat there for about an hour. She was too upset to drive there were nowhere else to go, but the house she a longer owned. So when she composed herself, she drove back to Benson away. Her daughter was waiting for her there. Her sister came over to me just one around the house, you know remembering how long parents and been there how much they loved that house. How proudly were that house, I was thinking of all the memories her reminiscing didn't last long. The next morning she heard a sound at the door came downstairs.
And there was this guy there, this young guy, he said worthy new owner and we have the right to evict you. He was sticking, notice to the door with blue masking tape. Sandy save the notice and gave it to me to read my priority. Is to keep you in the home as our tenant. The new owner did not purchase this home for resale purposes there. For we are not asking you to move, should use liars and letters that say we are trying to forcibly evict you. Please know that this is absolutely not true, but at the same time he also delivered a three day. Eviction notice, those There are said to me: they're gonna, put attention in here These are gonna, be you and your dinner graded, their terms or it's gonna be somewhere.
The house and we don't really care the name on the eviction notice was a mouthful coal, thin air. I five California LLC. That's who owned the house now, I'm obviously I never heard of these people and had no idea who they were, but as soon as the guy left, I got on my computer. Her googoogling took sandy to colony capital accompany found by another home Reykir billionaire Tom Barrack, for decades there has been a close friend of Donald Trump. He chaired the present his inaugural committee raised more than a hundred million dollars for it that put him under scrutiny. We're mowers. Investigation among barracks many homes is an apartment in one of Donald Trump buildings on central park. South on the same flourish, trumps on Eric less than a mile from Sleeve monitions Home on park. Avenue
and that company that bought Sandy's home coffin. I California LLC. We found it was why of more than three hundred shell companies incorporated in Delaware that were all part of Barracks empire, see for decades. Has been known as a contrary: investor fine, and everyone else is trying to sell. This is I investment philosophy. We wanted to talk to bear it, but he didn't want to talk to us, but here he is giving a key now at a university of Chicago Real estate conference the housing bust. He told the crowd. He was placing a big bed by snatching up thousands of foreclosed homes It's been the greatest thing. I've ever done my professional life honestly, what he
described is exactly what happened, the Sandy Jolly, so you send out teams with polluters analyzing what's going on in these houses, and that afternoon they announced a place at which they will hold this auction. All cash hundred dollar increments. He sounds almost gleeful talking about it. All cash means you have guys walking and honestly with bags of Kashmir checks, because you have no idea what you you'd have to bid. So we have these little twenty one year old, kids are walking around with with bags with Blue Tucson with cashiers checks in these denominations. All those teams, armed with blue tooth help barracks companies amass more thirty thousand homes, including the one that had belonged to sandy jollies family, but that the only we bear got houses. The government also helped,
any time. The government is intervening in our business. If you buy, you will be successful remember the country was in a recession and by two thousand and eleven the gun on more than two hundred thousand homes they didn't want. These were homes that had government back mortgages. When those mortgages went bad in the homes went into foreclosure, guess who ended up with them? We did all that real estate swamp the newly formed federal Housing finance agency with foreclosure fires literally piling up in rooms rooms just full of files, that someone was simple, do something with, and they didn't know what that thing was entered Julia Gordon a high level bureaucrat with a large degree from Harvard she saw this economic crisis as an opportunity for reform. When she arrived the agency,
in disarray and solely reaction was how can we make things go away and get back to normal as quickly as possible. The agency did ask the public what to do with all these foreclosed homes. Thousands of people waited some said. They use the properties to prevent blight or promote. Huh ownership. Was there any discussion like ok? What have we bundle these, unlike bundles of twenty five or fifty, where, like it, you know a non profit organization or a city or somebody who wasn't a giant private equity firm could conceivably bid. Did they talk about that zero discussion of it. Of course it was proposed, but it was. Sit on a non starter due to complexity. Here's what the government did. Instead, so we held a big fire sale and we sold mortgages at pennies on the dollar, to the private equity infrastructure of the country. The first deal was with Tom Barracks Company Colony capital
It pays thirty four million dollars to buy a controlling interest in a thousand homes across LOS Angeles, LAS Vegas in Phoenix the deal was a steel, independent appraisal valued those homes at more than a hundred fifty million dollars, but Julia Gordon's bosses said it was the best deal. They could get now there were a lot of people, including Julia Gordon, who argued that if these we're gonna be sold in bulk. The deal should come, conditions say giving. More homeowners like Sandy Jolly the opportunity to buy them back the was the more conditions that you put on these sales the lower the price would be for people who wanted to buy them. But I don't stand because you told me that there was this incredible pressure to maximum The return to the government and now telling me that you went on a fire, sale and use all these things were pennies on the dollar the,
prevailing view inside the building. Was there If you had put conditions on what you could do, had to do with these properties that their number would have been even smaller, think about the supply and demand curve. At this point, there is a big supply and a desperate seller that's an some time to be a buyer, but the auction Only for people who wanted to bid on one found Holmes, a better price saying ass, true, that the way all of these options have been set up is that they are set up so only very well he'd moneyed interest can participate. The government had other options and there must be an end to conduct in banking added business which too often given to a sacred cross, the likeness of color and selfish wrong guy back in the nineteen thirties. When America faced with even greater depression, prison Franklin, Roosevelt
a government run mortgage company under Roosevelt, the government issued more than a million loans that help keep people out of Fort closure and in the rare cases when foreclosures did happen, the government held onto the house's rented them out and then sold them to families. One at a time after that pressure ended as a result, the nations homeownership rate rose for decades, helping to cry Eight, the modern middle Class, Roosevelt's government bank even made money for the taxpayers, unlike the recent deals that handed billions to the home wreckers. While President Obama was in office, Julia Gordon says officials knew about this history and disgusted after the two thousand eight housing bust. She says she fought for these ideas, but her bosses weren't persuaded they missed a huge opportunity there. They could have read these out to the folks who needed tarento that
I am because of a foreclosure they weren't able to buy a home again and as time passed by and, as folks became eligible, for a mortgage or You know reemployed, back in a financial position to get a mortgage, they could have sold those homes back to folks they could have kept the original owners in there or not. Who was on the losing end of those policy debates in Washington. People like Sandy millions of homes or changing hands from endeavour will families like Sandy's to corporate. Out of town landlords like the home wreckers after the foreclosure see he rented the house on Benson Way from Tom Barracks Company the rent star.
At nineteen hundred dollars. Three months later, it went up to twenty four hundred a year. After that, the company raised it again. Derek argued that is firm. Did people like seeing the favor. By not forcing them to move right away, but that's not how sandy season they stole that money. For me, that's how I feel Imagine your family owned their home for more than thirty years, and now you're paying rent to live in same house now you have no equity, no wealth in your red keeps going up There were some months where friend family? Help me to pay that, because I was still recovering from the end of I for my mom and paying those expenses, and and keep our house and the least Sandy signed with Barracks company It was unusual. It made her responsible for almost all the maintenance
If she needed M exterminator Sandy would have to pay for it plumbing burst. Sandy would be on the hook. Place, are broken window she'd also eat that cost. After renting her parents home for a year and a half, paid more than forty two thousand dollars and rent. This was a house that her parents had bought for less ninety thousand dollars back at ninety, maybe sandy, was exhausted. Anybody who hears this will understand this. Grass bet you're under is so debilitating. The helplessness that you feel in these situations is so debility hating you wanna, give up in it's not in my nature to give up, but but I can see there were times in my life, where I felt like not that I wanted to harm myself, but- that I didn't want to keep living
Sandy knew she needed to get out by now, her parents belongings were packed up. So she and her daughter, made the half hour, drive up the coast, Oxnard California We turned around the winding roads of subdivisions that bumped up against the Pacific Ocean Sandy saw a little for rent sign on a brown track. Come she pulled out her cell phone and dialed. The number the rent was cheaper than her parents from the landlord was a person company, like colony she'd, found a new place to live Cynthia moved out, but she kept fighting. I think sandy. Was a consummate whistleblower and we find out she's, not the only one who feels that the government help banks at the expense of homeowners. Fish is a disaster. So you, Ass homeownership its more. I think they said, like
Thirty one years, it's allow right fifty one years, that's what Donald Trump sit on the campaign trail, but he surrounds himself with homeworkers. That's on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting in p eggs Yeah from the centre for investigate reporting in p r eggs. This is reveal a valid today. We ve been talking about. Small group of businessmen who cleaned up after the housing bus at the expense. Of everyday Americans and alone. These guys live in the same building in New York. Seven forty park avenue reveals. Erin glance has written a book about them called homeworkers. Air higher
where does Sandy Jolly story go from here? This the story of two neighbours. One then was sandy jollies adversary, Treasury secretary, Steve Malnutrition. Remember back in two thousand nine. He paid the government nothing to buy. Indeed MAC. Then the government paid him when his bank foreclosed on people, but Stephen Nature, never intended to own that bank forever. He wanted to fly and make a ton of money. So we started looking around for a buyer and he found it in the guy who owned the penthouse at seven Forty park Avenue and who was at his name is John thing. He was right upstairs because I remember John thing he's a guy who took federal, bail out money and turned it into bonuses for himself and other executives marrow Lynch. Even company was failing, you spent
a bail out money, remodeling his office enemy headlines for spending? Thirty five thousand dollars on a toilet? Yeah? That's John thing: he of the thirty five thousand dollar toilet, that kind of behavior got faint fired, but pretty quickly he found himself running. Another bank called see. I t and that's where Thane was when his neighbor came, calling so that bank that Steve Monitions Group bought off the government for zero dollars. Five years later, he approached his neighbour and they agreed on a price. Three four billion dollars. People must have been outraged by this I mean didn't. We just go through a whole crisis where banks were considered too big to fail and now we're going to create a their mega bank run by this guy yeah, and it would have been the first new Mega bank system so tell me what happened when the news of this deal between the Newton and John thing got out, and how is sandy jolly involved
will the new set off a ton of protest across the country homer prison consumer advocates mobilize to try to stop the sale. That brings us back to Sandy Jolly. She was one of the activists who forced Federal Reserve to hold a special hearing. She testified about what happened to her family, but in August twenty fifteen the sale went through anyway, you won and give up in its, not in my nature He gave up. Remember Sandy had been fighting monitions Bank for years and she still lost her family home. Then she paid tens of thousands of dollars in rent to live. In that same as she battled mentions, bank Sandy, heard a lot of other families, hundreds of them families who had the same problem. She did her phone rang off the hook with desperate people seeking advice
Well, what I did learn along the way in losing every step of the way was I learned how to use every step of the way to the benefit of the next person so that it would, happened to them and I should talk to these families who are trying to onto their homes. She realized. This wasn't just her problem and I was looking for a bigger solution, an alternate solution, because that's always what I'm trying to look for what are my next options? Sandy became convinced that the bank was constantly breaking the law, and she wanted to do something about it. So she went online and found David sure, a Washington DC lawyer, one of the top whistleblower attorneys in the country he specialised in a particular type of case, representing people who say they have evidence that government is being too
brought it my personal first conversation with Sandy. I remember because I remember her story is being different. She wasn't, in a typical insider sure, got us firms, private investigator involved to checks, the out and to be sure she was telling the truth. He decided to take the case. She was like any industry or something she was some someone whose parents were a victim of this fraud, and I found a fascinating soon became arm, piles of documents she'd spent years accumulating about her own story and the their family. She heard from the fraud sandy alleged was really complicated. There are a lot of consumer protection. Monitions bank was supposed to provide for families with reverse mortgages, for example they were supposed to.
The air is a chance to keep the house when elderly borrower died, but share, says the bank and follow these rules. He says they broke the law. He basically set up a system whereby this company would, as quickly as possible, immediately foreclose manoeuvring, then build the government for his class on the foreclosures for things like attorneys fees and appraisal cos because for foreclosure was improper, those fees are not legitimate, so is a couple of thousand dollars per house which may not sound like a lot, but it added up to a hundred two hundred million dollars or something by the time that you know you had it all off. Like I told you earlier, the government had agreed to backup all these bad mortgages, even picking up these other costs. If there was a foreclosure, but if these or closures, weren't legitimate than Steve Management would be breaking the law. So David share called for in the: U S: attorney's office and soon Sandy was headed to Washington for meeting at the judge,
this department, several members from hide in the Department of Justice FBI agents in day drilled, her four hours. That's that's my recollection of the meeting. I got very intimidated and after all, that growing the government decided to take the case, but they told Sandy. It was a secret can't tell anyone, cannot tell a soul. That's incredible! Secret, oh my god. There were so many times when I wanted to tell somebody anybody- and I couldn't do it by now. It was twenty fifteen a decade after Sandy's parent sign that were first mortgage and Sandy was told to wait again a year passed.
An election got underway. Homeownership right, that's the american dream, the american dream. We want the american dream, we want our. How right Donald Trump was running for president as an outsider on a populist platform and part of his pitch was that President Obama has bailed out the banks and left Americans with nothing. This is a disaster, so you as homeownership. It's down more. I think they said like fifty one years, this allowance right. Fifty one years, contributors, Obama, Job Obama, that's from campaigning in sport, Serena August, twenty sixteen shortly before the election, but while Trump,
slaughtering the joys of homeownership, he surrounded himself with the very home records who are undermining the american dream: Steve Newton was his campaign financed Chairman Tom Barrack, who ran the company that bought Sandy's home after the foreclosure after Trump. When he planned the inauguration and there were others like Wilbur Ross, who led an investment group that also bought a bank off the government for zero dollars and got billions in subsidies. He came the calmer secretary and trumpet minutiae to run the Treasury department, putting Sandy's nemesis in charge, regulating every american Bank American should know that Stephen our nations financial system is truly red hands with him. We're gonna have no problem. Believe me, the Senate confirm the nutrient. They didn't know about Sandy's whistleblower complaint because it was still a secret, all the while
EL, the Justice Department was quietly working away on Sandy's case non may seventeenth. Twenty seventeen Sandy received a call from her lawyer. I was so excited because you know you think it's gonna come really. I've been doing it since two thousand and five I was just so overjoyed and- and I hoped that it would make difference Sandy's lawyer told her she'd one. The government One recover eighty, nine million dollars a figure that included a one. Point six million dollar whistleblower fee that would be paid to sandy, but even ass. It settled the bank didn't admit, had wrongfully foreclose than anyone. Of course, Steve Manichaean was gone by this time. He told the bank and was now the treasury secretary. Will it's not justice? It's not even remotely justice. I will never be able to recover From this experience sandy share of the settlement, one point: six, billion dollars it sound
like a lot, but after her lawyer, took his percentage in the Irish took its share. Sandy was left with about five a thousand dollars. After more than a decade of fighting that our Sun Benton Way, which was to be our families inheritance. We would have had five or six hundred thousand dollars equity in it for our family, but I have the big win against them. Making them pay something, even though its a drop in the bucket too, I have done with the money she got. Sandy bought a new car Alexis and finally got some long delayed medical treatments, and I started my nonprofit. I use some of my money to start my known crossing the non profit is called consumer advocates against reverse mortgage abuse
or karma it. Formalizes would Sandy was already doing fighting for the people at the other end of all those bad loans, but the homeworkers are still winning an incredibly there still cashing in on Sandy's family home. This is six eighty one pension way when my parents left her thirty five years in the spring of twenty nineteen, I went back to see the house with Sandy. It was raining the house was sitting empty because it was up for
and now I see they put one of those guard gates, those gates on the door. It was easy to get inside. The house we signed up online and corporate owner sent us a code to get in. The house was completely empty, no furniture. If you can imagine this tiny kitchen, I mean there will be ten of us in here cooking a holiday dinner in its little tiny place. I told Sandy what had happened to this house and she moved out in twenty seventeen Tom Barrack sold it along with the rest of his single family, rent or business invitation homes invitation was part of a huge private equity, firm, called Blackstone, which is run by another home record Steve shorts. President Trump appointed Schwartz meant to chair the strategic and policy forum, which meant regularly at the White House. Shorts men also lives at seven forty park Avenue a few floors up from sea minutiae.
So short spends firm on eighty thousand houses across thirteen states from Miami to Seattle. The house on It's the way was just one of them and I told sandy something else: the rent had gone up again. Thirty one hundred a month I mean thirty one hundred dollars for this. Really, it's crazy, We were standing in the living room where her father had watched James Gardener pitching reverse mortgages on tv. So many years earlier, then we were a narrow flight of stairs to the home office were sandy first discovered those loan documents. I told sandy that letting rent wasn't the main way. The home homemakers made money off this house. Now. It's like this collecting rent takes time. They wanted to make a lot of money right away, so they bundled thousands of homes together and took on a ton of debt and now
it was part of a billion dollar mortgage backed security, that's mind, boggling, to a person like me who thinks Hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money. They put their money in their pocket that they sold it off to other investors that debt and that just a few months ago they did it again. And now it's a billion dollars that they pulled out of this home and thousands of other homes. You know how a family might pull twenty thousand dollars worth of equity out of their home to remodel their kitchen or fixed their roof. I told sandy the homemakers did that on thousands of homes all at once in fact, there was a nine hundred, sixty million dollar lean on her parents home. It seems inconceivable to me that people like that can conceive of the scheme
And now we're talking about billions of dollars like its hundreds of dollars. It's a building block The house that we are standing in is a building block of a fortune to be leverage and traded and SALT rang a big difference. Is that you know a home is a place for a family dog to live and grow and be happy gain some equity and to them it's not it's that number in the property address. That's all it is dollar signs and property address. I talk to an official invitation hopes, she said corporate landlords worth doing anything wrong by leveraging the homes they own for billions of dollars in debt. She said company wasn't responsible for killing the american dream,
didn't have anything to do with the decline. In homeownership they're just providing options for people who want to rent A sandy and I walk through the house on Benson Way, with its empty rooms, sandy realized. It was the last time she would ever be here. I'm happy I came, I am happy. I came because there's nothing here for me There is not even a memory here for me anymore. Those are in my heart and in everything I have of my parents and was just isn't Ares anymore. We walked to the door and stepped outside into the rain and drove off
that was reveals airing glance. His book is called homeworkers after the show. First aired last fall as Reseca Steve, Mnuchin, emailed Darren objecting to his reporting, an invite mention once again to come on our show, but he wouldn't do it. We and by our reporting that's the only pushed back. We got Steve Schwartz means private equity for Blackstone, an invitation homes created a whole website to try and discredit Erin, but then Blackstone. Old all of its stock in the window. Housing company, leaving that market entirely Where does that leave the House offensive way enjoyed it. From his house in San Francisco wearing sheltering in place to tell us how hey man so now the weight of global pay dammit. What's the latest was saying these family home, while it still bundled together with more than five thousand
their houses in a giant mortgage backed security leverage with almost a billion dollars in debt. Long as the tenants in nearly all of those homes continue to pay. Rent or property values, go up invitation home. Should be able to pay off that debt write but tens of millions of people out of work, how are they gonna pay so far, the key then he says nearly all their tenants are still paying rent or even getting lots of new leases, but my reporting shows things could go south really fast. The giant mortgage backed security on Sandy's old home has some feet that might remind you of the bad loans from before the housing bust, there's no fixed interest rate in India. Patient homes only asked to pay interest and not principle until the bill comes, do with a giant balloon payment and the bundle on Sandy's hum could mature as early as next year. So far the company has paid off just three percent.
Of the nine hundred sixty million dollars it took out now the company says to negotiate with the Treasury department on a bail out the Treasury department led by Stephen Hughes right, he's, leading closed or meetings with trumps other bank regulators to decide who should get bailed out and who shouldn't We started this. Our talking about how some people see opportune, When there is an economic crisis, are you seem to come profiteering? No? Well, it's a little soon. What I see as these home wreckers marshalling their cash. They call it dry powder to spend in a moment of Crisis Tom Barracks Company COM, and he told investors this month. It has more than three billion dollars to spend. Blackstone has a hundred fifty two billion dollars. Millions of people are really hurting right now, but these guys are sitting pretty and they're ready to pounce when the
prices right things in an earlier statements over this thanks out. Those reveals airing glance Our leap producer for this week show is Cathy, Miss Gower Ski shall help this week from Ike trees, conjurer Deb George edited the show special thanks to Jeff Chandler and the whole team custom House Books and Kate Limburg. In Quinn, Louis Sport, for reveals, provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation, the John D, and can T Macarthur Foundation the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, before foundation, the Housing Simons Foundation, the democracy fund and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal physical production of the centre for investigative reporting in p r x, amount lit and remember. There is always more to the story
Transcript generated on 2020-05-19.