Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Long Read: Mobile Home, Immobile Racism

Clayton Homes is the largest mobile home manufacturer in America, they absolutely dominate the marketplace. Their mortgage arm is as scummy as it comes, pushing people of color into subprime loans that are meant to bankrupt them and wipe them out.  It's predatory lending at its most awful.

And Clayton Homes is owned by Warren Buffett.

Clayton’s predatory practices have damaged minority communities — from rural black enclaves in the Louisiana Delta, across Spanish-speaking swaths of Texas, to Native American reservations in the Southwest. Many customers end up losing their homes, thousands of dollars in down payments, or even land they’d owned outright. 
Over the 12 years since Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway bought Clayton Homes, the company has grown to dominate virtually every aspect of America’s mobile-home industry. It builds nearly half the new manufactured homes sold in this country every year, making it the most prolific U.S. home builder of any type. It sells them through a network of more than 1,600 dealerships. And it finances more mobile-home loans than any other lender by a factor of more than seven. 
In minority communities, Clayton’s grip on the lending market verges on monopolistic: Last year, according to federal data, Clayton made 72% of the loans to black people who financed mobile homes
The company’s in-house lender, Vanderbilt Mortgage, charges minority borrowers substantially higher rates, on average, than their white counterparts. In fact, federal data shows that Vanderbilt typically charges black people who make over $75,000 a year slightly more than white people who make only $35,000
Through a spokesperson earlier this month, Buffett declined to discuss racial issues at Clayton Homes, and a reporter who attempted to contact him at his home was turned away by security. 
Clayton and Berkshire Hathaway did not respond to numerous requests for interviews with executives, delivered by phone and email, as well as in person at Berkshire Hathaway’s headquarters in Omaha. The companies did not answer any of 34 detailed questions about Clayton and its practices. Nor did they respond to an extensive summary of this article’s findings, provided along with an invitation to comment.

So yeah, Warren Buffett is one of the good guys?  My ass.  He can rot in the same jail cell as the Kochs and Sheldon Adelson and the rest of the 0.0001% that run this country.

At some point, everyone with wealth of that magnitude got it by crushing people.  I'm tired of it.

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