Francesca Mari has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, The Cut, and Texas Monthly. (June 2020)

IN THE REVIEW

The Housing Vultures

A deteriorating bank-owned house, Moreno Valley, California, August 2008

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

by Aaron Glantz
In an alternate reality, the one progressives wanted, the government wouldn’t have bailed out the banks during the 2008 crash. When mortgage-backed securities began catching flame like newspaper under logs, the government would have prioritized struggling homeowners instead. It would have created a corporation to buy back the distressed mortgages and then worked to refinance those mortgages—lowering monthly payments to reflect the real underlying values of the homes or adding years to the mortgages to make the monthly payments more manageable. If a homeowner missed mortgage payments, rather than initiating a foreclosure after two months, as was done by many banks during the recession, the government would have held off for an entire year, maybe more. In the event the homeowner still couldn’t keep up, the government would have acquired the home, fixed it up, and rented it out until another person bought it.