This past month, the University of California announced a $4.5 billion investment in the Blackstone Real Estate Investment Trust. By partnering with one of the largest private landlords in the US, the University is directly contributing to and profiting from housing scarcity and tenant disempowerment. It is also betraying its public mission. As students squeeze into overcrowded dorms, or sleep in vans, tents, and closets, the hour has come for the UC to use its massive capacity to help solve the housing crisis, rather than prolong it.
Shelter is one of the largest items in a person’s budget, and among the most rigid. How can the state ensure that renters don’t get crushed as workers during a recession, and then crushed again with housing costs as the economy recovers?
By documenting how public debt produced our present nightmare, Destin Jenkins allows us to dream about using public money to mend the ills of our era.