Warren renews criticism of personal fairness's function in housing development

Elizabeth Warren Photographer: Eric Lee/Bloomberg

Eric Lee/Bloomberg

Senator Elizabeth Warren is stepping up her criticism of private equity's involvement in the US housing market as the nation grapples with a shortage of affordable housing.

In letters sent Thursday, the Massachusetts Democrat questioned housing companies Progress Residential LLC, Invitation Homes Inc. and American Homes 4 Rent about recent rent increases, plans to acquire more properties and the number of evictions in recent years.

Warren and other Democrats have scrutinized Wall Street's role in the housing market since the 2008 financial crisis. During the pandemic, lawmakers have been on high alert over eviction moratorium violations and unfair treatment as Americans struggled financially to stay on their feet.

Warren also expressed concern about automated home buying practices that allow companies to buy up properties using algorithms. Bloomberg reported that Zillow has sold thousands of homes to institutional investors over the past year.

Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent are both publicly traded companies. Blackstone Inc., a leading private equity firm, took Invitation Homes public in 2017 but later sold its stake in the company. Progress Residential was founded by alternative investment manager Pretium Partners LLC.

American Homes 4 Rent said in a statement that it is "trying to improve the situation and find solutions." Progress Residential said it had complied with eviction moratoriums and would work with Warren. Invitation Homes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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