Owned: A Tale of Two Americas (2018) Movie Script

Get ready
to experience Baltimore.
The Flippers.
Y'all ready to come see
this bathroom upstairs?
That door right there.
Dude take your shoes off.
- Uncle Yank right there.
- Uncle Yank right there, yeah.
That's Uncle Yank.
One, two, three, four bedrooms.
Bathroom in here,
this is the one.
This is the one.
Come check the shower out.
Check the shower out.
All granite. Huge, sexy.
This is a sexy shower.
Me, a woman, her friend.
Whatever you into.
You know!
The... The Flippers.
- Dan is gonna create...
- I'll put a puddle there.
He's gon' create a puddle
in the middle of the concrete.
- Money should have just flow.
- Nah...
- Man off...
- Yeah, if you're asking me,
I prefer my shit
just full straight out.
- Go straight out.
- Ain't nothin' heavy
coming back here, though.
It ain't ever heavy,
but my whole thing is puddling.
Home ownership to me,
it means freedom, strictly.
It is a...
The more and more
I evaluate this world,
the more and more
I understand that
when you don't own anything,
you are nothing, you know?
Something happens
in this world, catastrophic.
You gotta have a place that you can go to,
and say this is mine.
No matter what's going on,
I own this.
And it means so much to me,
it means everything to me.
If I'm by myself,
I tend to savor it.
So peaceful.
Getting out of the bed,
walking around in my underwear.
Going into the refrigerator,
get then some apple juice or somethin'
and go out on to the porch
and smokin' a cigarette.
You always find a reason
to snap out of it.
'Cause like,
you can only daydream so long.
It's not fun when
you leave and go home
and you back to where
they call the trenches.
From the '30s onward,
every single president
has spoken of home
ownership almost
as the basis of citizenship.
Your ability to own a home
kind of makes you a citizen.
The most tangible cornerstone
that lies at the heart
of the American Dream,
and that's the chance
to own your own home.
For those of us who've
been given positions
of responsibility must,
must do everything we can
to spotlight the dream
and to make sure
the dream shines
in all neighborhoods.
All across the country
I say to millions
of young working couples,
by the time your children are
ready to start the first grade,
we want you to be able
to own your own home.
Because in order
to be secure in their human rights,
people need access
to property rights.
We must make
sure that every family in America
lives in a home of dignity.
A neighborhood of pride
is the community of opportunity
and a city of promise and hope.
Hi, I'm Jim, The Realtor. Here's
some tips for home buyers.
Number one,
work with a great realtor.
A good realtor sells
at least one house a month.
Check their sales history
on Zillow.
Americans love buying homes.
In Southern California
especially, we dig real estate.
And we forgot about the bubble
and all the other trouble,
the financing
and everything else.
And here we are right back
at it, frenzied up,
five, ten, fifteen buyers for every house,
like none of that ever happened.
Here we are
on the 800th video.
I document the real
estate market on YouTube.
I got almost 1500 YouTubes now,
and it gives people a real
good sense of what's happening.
I'm in Chula Vista today.
That house sold for 1.6, 1.1,
I'm talking millions here.
I don't know what to say either.
Let's go take a look.
What! I don't what the heck
that is, a doll house.
Pool in the front yard.
Slightly unfinished fire pit.
Why are you stealing the
trim piece out? You got me.
All the other appliances
all stolen.
What could have been
so nice about those pillars
that they had to steal those?
I'm not sure about that.
There's 15 houses
on this street.
I think it was at least eight
of them had loans way over a million.
Well, if you're sitting
on a 1.2 or 1.4 loan,
and you see houses
listed for 585,
how's that gonna make you feel
about making that next payment?
I'm Jim, The Realtor.
So what we saw in 2008 was the
unwinding of the housing finance system.
What most people understand
as a financial crisis,
or a problem
of our housing stock,
actually is the unwinding
of a social contract
that was built in the 1940s.
And so understanding that,
and how the American home
was the basis of how
we organize the economy,
and how we organize
social stability,
is an important part of understanding
why we are where we are now.
It's still pretty nice
neighborhood here.
How you doin'?
Do you know if any
of these places here used to be
- an old firehouse many years ago?
- Uh...
- Is a somewhat active firehouse?
- Yeah.
Oh no,
this was an old, old firehouse.
Years ago it shut down.
- Hi.
- Hi. I'm sorry to bother you.
- I, I want...
- Did you ring the bell?
- I did.
- Which one, the yoga or the attorney?
Well no,
I was born here many years ago,
and there used to be an old
firehouse around here someplace,
would you know
where it would've been?
Might have been here,
that was converted, or there.
That used to be a tiny,
tiny firehouse.
But let me just check up
a little bit further.
My mother punched a nun
right in the face over there.
When I was six months old,
we moved from Little Italy
in Manhattan
to this area right here,
it was a housing project.
One night, my Uncle Frank
was over with his wife
and a mob of guys...
...came down this path,
all Italian guys, with bats...
...and belts and sticks.
They were on their way
to fight a bunch of black guys.
And they walked past us
and my Uncle Frank
said to my father,
"Get this kid, get him out
of this neighborhood and move."
And it was not that long after
that that we moved to Levittown.
I still say you're
making a big mistake, Tony!
How could
you leave New York, huh?
The Triborough Bridge.
Hey look, Mrs. Rossini, you gotta admit
this neighborhood is falling apart.
How you gonna support yourself, huh?
Oh hey, Mrs. Rossini, I got
a great job and a great place.
It's all green
with picket fences.
There's an open road
And a road that's hidden
A brand new life
Around the bend
There's a path you take
And a path not taken
The choice
Is up to you, my friend
- Not so long
- Aw!
But you might awaken
To a brand new life
Brand new life, a brand
New life around the bend
Holy shit.
- How much you want for that?
- 38.
- $3800?
- Yeah, right.
- That... That's a deal.
- Okay.
Levittown is not a rich
neighborhood as you can see,
but what I love about this town
is, it's a blue-collar town.
It is what I consider to be
the backbone of America.
When America fights its wars,
it's people like us who go.
Levittown was the first community of its
kind that was built like this in the nation.
Nobo... everybody thought
it was gonna fail,
because he built
10,000 houses like that.
Coming out
of the second World War,
the idea of mass production
became something
that was truly a reality.
Hey kids, look,
a whole new world to build.
The idea that came to a
man named Bill Levitt was this,
why not mass-produce the elements
that go to make up a house
just as the auto industry does with
the parts that go into a new car?
When I was living there,
it was at a very particular moment,
and that was coming out
of post-war trajectory
that created the need
for that type of housing.
If you were
a returning G.I.,
you could buy a house...
...for as little as $100 down
and about $99 a month.
And that was partly
because the federal government
was insuring your mortgage.
We had the G.I. Bill encouraging
construction of new homes
so the whole idea is,
your government wants you to have a home.
So this was an easy way
to sort of jump start
the housing industry and make
home ownership possible.
Without those subsidies,
lower-middle class families
would never have been able
to afford
the massive movement into the
suburbs that we saw
in the late 1940s,
1950s and early 1960s.
I was a police officer
here in Nassau County,
and we were, uh,
the SWAT Team as well.
Here's the school I went to.
And you know the story
about sticking your tongue
on the flag pole
in the middle of the winter?
- Yes sir.
- I did that right there,
right on that flag pole.
I swear to god I did.
If you couldn't afford to put
a down payment on these homes,
Levitt would let you rent them
with the option to buy,
so he was just terrific.
Ladies and gentlemen,
this is William Levitt,
who heads the largest
home-building firm in the world.
Bill, all this must have
taken an awful lot of doing.
We had to start from scratch
with absolutely nothing,
and everything
had to be done at once.
If you go back to
William Levitt, he said,
"No man who owns
his own home and lock
can be a communist,
because he has too much to do."
This was a fundamental part
of how our political leadership
and our country at large
understood the bargain.
You get a home, right,
I mean, you have to work,
there are 30-year jobs that go along
with it that match the 30-year mortgage.
And then you don't rebel,
right, that's the thing,
you don't revolt if you have
a stake in the system.
CBS News now presents
a special report on one
of the most unusual
diplomatic events
in recent history.
So the Kitchen Debate served
one of the most famous moments
in the history
of post-war housing.
That's basically Nixon
saying to Khrushchev
that the strength of the American
economy is the post-war home
and the ability of Americans to
purchase consumer-durables to fill it.
So let's compete.
The system that will give the people
more goods will be the better system.
In this one particular moment,
Nixon was right.
This was the strength
of the American economy.
I can remember, even as a kid,
looking at house magazines
and seeing these incredible
visions of the future.
The house represented
in those pages
was something
that you could aspire to,
and that was starting
to become a reality.
What a dream.
Imagine how wonderful it would
be to live in a house like this.
Just imagine.
The future becomes the
present in House of The Future.
The house of 1999 will be
virtually maintenance-free.
Yes, life will be richer,
easier, healthy
as space-age dreams come true.
And now we channel our tuning, it tracks
the color more automatically than ever.
See the talking alarm clock.
Enjoy the classic
beauty of these rugs
for a fraction of the cost.
But I'll confess,
I like the conveniences as well.
- Wouldn't you like to trade in your old kitchen?
- For one like this?
gives me what I want,
and anything is possible.
Hey buddy,
give me like 45 minutes.
- Okay.
- Alright, buddy boy?
Alright. Alright.
The only thing that Levitt did
that was wrong...
Wow, look at that.
The only thing that Levitt did
that was wrong,
and I'll be the first one
to admit this,
"No blacks allowed."
"No blacks allowed."
And that is disgraceful.
If I'm fighting
alongside a black man
who's willing to die
for his country...
...and he can't buy
a house next to me in Levittown?
I'm sorry man,
that don't make any sense to me.
Why did you
select Levittown to live?
We were looking
for a place to buy a home.
We looked at Levittown,
we liked the homes here,
we liked the advantages
that Levittown seemed to offer
and, uh, in comparison
to other cities.
And we understood that it was
going to be all white,
and we were very happy
to buy a home here.
When you come
to this neighborhood,
you know immediately,
it's different.
They're all drawn together.
There's no real fences.
It gives you a feeling
of a park-like setting.
I was struck by
how familiar it felt.
It was a connection to Levittown
that they both developed
as post-war suburbs.
I believe Gregory Ain,
when he built these houses,
he really built these houses
for the veterans
coming home from the war.
It was hard for him to get financing for
these houses, because they were so different.
The whole social part
was part of his design,
and, um, probably also,
I shouldn't even say that,
so don't,
I'm not even going to open...
- Aw, I wanna hear it.
- He was a socialist,
and I think a lot of the people
that moved in here were...
I'm gonna get
in trouble for this.
My father is Gregory Ain,
a fairly well-known
California architect
from the '40s and '50s.
So these are the letters.
It does say,
"I just came into my hotel room
from an interesting
and unexpected visit
through the basement
drafting rooms at Yale.
The one and a half days at
Phillip Johnson's dual new canon,
he is a real fascist
I started rummaging through some old
papers and then I came across this,
you know, 200 page or 100,
yeah, 200 page file
that the FBI kept on him
and they were watching
everything he did from
the mid-'40s to the mid-'50s.
Gregory believed
that decent housing should be
the right of everyone, not just the
privileged and very wealthy people.
Twelve per cent
of the population is black,
there should be a lot of black
families living out here.
Yeah, this is only a beginning
but I think it's wonderful.
Well, let's see
how wonderful it is
when the watermelon rinds
come flying out the window.
Oh that... oh.
Too many notes.
The neighborhood was supposed
to be, uh, twice as large.
The plans was for 100 homes
and only 52 were built.
The FHA at the time
didn't think that
integrated neighborhoods would be
attractive to the general public.
And they're providing mortgage
insurance, and in their minds,
that would bring down
the value of the homes.
You know, most people in America,
the value of those homes,
and parents passing that
on to their children,
that's made
the biggest difference.
were left out of that.
That inability to participate
in what created
American middle-class,
um, has a lot to do
with the problems we have now.
It would be really
interesting to dial it back,
and think about the longer,
deeper history
of what housings meant
in the United States.
Not just that old question
of the American Dream,
but the bigger question
of who the dream has been for.
It's a good feeling
To live in Baltimore
There's something
Magic in the air
Just waiting here for you
It's a good feeling
It's a good feeling to know
It's a good feeling
It's a good feeling to know
It's a good, good
Feeling to know
Baltimore is
the beautiful little city
with a lot of bad habits.
The houses here are beautiful,
but what goes on outside the house...
It's tough, it's tough.
As a kid, I didn't
really understand how segregated
the city was
'cause I never left my areas.
One time, my dad sending me to
my godfather's house for a week.
It was like Liberty
right outside the city
and he had a nice
apartment complex.
We went in the pool every day,
we were grilling.
People had decent cars,
it wasn't loud at night,
it was fun, but when I got back
to the city, we got evicted.
My dad sent us
somewhere for the week
just to get the house together.
I've moved
too many times to count.
I've lived
in so many neighborhoods.
It doesn't allow you
to gauge what is normal.
This neighborhood still
pretty much look the same.
A lot of these
houses are vacant.
We used to go all behind them
and climb up in 'em.
Almost like a treasure hunt.
You'd go in there
and find everything
that the people have left
before they got evicted.
You know, a jackpot,
you a would find some pornos or
something like that.
- Ooh!
- Whoa.
The community didn't feel
as empty as it does now
when you see
all these vacancies.
When we was kids
it was just about having fun.
Baltimore is a microcosm
of many urban areas in America
and it is, like Dickens would say,
the tale of two cities.
You have great investments
in certain parts of town
and other investments
looking like a ghost town.
Baltimore, in many ways,
is the ground zero
for racial apartheid in America.
It's where racial zoning
was invented in 1910
and then racially restrictive
covenants were also created here.
We have a myth in
this country that, uh,
the reason neighborhoods are
segregated is
because people like
to live with one another
who are of the race or because
African-Americans have
too little income to move
into white neighborhoods,
or because this private
prejudice that prevents
African-Americans from buying
homes in white neighborhoods.
And that's all true, but it's
a tiny, tiny part of the truth.
There's intentionality
with the Capitol decisions
that were made around housing
in the '40s and in the '50s,
and I think people are lulled
to sleep thinking
that certain things happen by
default rather than by design.
You have the FHA and the VA,
the Federal
Housing Administration
and Veteran's Administration.
They subsidize
home-building in suburbs
and then they say
it's racially exclusive.
It means white people
can move out to these areas
but black people can't.
What is probably
a surprise to a lot of people
is that redlining is created
by the federal government.
Michael, what's redlining?
That's when the white bankers
draw red lines
around black areas and don't give up no green.
And the government has to
determine which zones is it going to insure
and which zones is it not going to insure,
and it does that based on
the racial makeup
of neighborhoods.
that had a certain number
of black residents would
have literally red lines
drawn around them on the map,
and they wouldn't insure
mortgages in those areas
because they believed that the
properties would not hold value.
The bank turned down our loan.
They said I'm a bad risk.
Why would they say that?
Banks take up
that same practice.
They decide they're not going
to lend in those areas.
That meant that
all these benefits
that were flowing
to potential home owners
were flowing to whites
and not flowing to minorities.
It baked this element
of racism into
our home ownership culture.
It ain't their problem,
it's our problem!
These people are stepping up
in life and we're moving down.
How much you think our property's gonna
be worth with them living two doors away?
So we passed the law in 1968,
the Fair Housing Act.
It proclaims that fair housing
for all, all human beings,
is now a part
of the American way of life.
The mandate that the government has given
to not just prevent discrimination,
but to actually affirmatively go out
and say how do we desegregate America,
except the government
betrays that policy.
I find as I travel
across the country
that, uh, whether we're
talking about white Americans
or people who may be, not Negro,
but in other minority groups
like the Mexican-Americans,
the rest, uh,
just like the black Americans,
what everybody wants is an equal
chance to have a piece of the action.
But the federal government has
never enforced the Fair Housing Act
and that State and local governments
do not enforce the Fair Housing Act.
And so, again, you know,
you could have federal policy
but it's the local
administration of these policies
that often meant that black people
received discriminatory treatment.
Hello, my name is Tyrone Washington,
I'm calling about
- the apartment on Park Street.
- It's not available.
Yes, hello, my name is Graham Wellington,
I'm calling about the apartment
for rent on Park Street,
is that still available?
- Yes it is.
- Oh it is?
- Yes.
- Really?
And so what does this mean?
It means
that the places
that were segregated
in the '30s, '40s and '50s,
they're still racially segregated today,
because we haven't done anything
to undo the racial segregation.
Uh yeah, Levittown today
is over 95% white.
Very few minority
families living there.
We didn't fix
the damage that was done,
we just allowed all those
inequalities to continue
but said from this day forward,
we can't discriminate.
So it didn't fix it.
All of these
policies and practices,
these systems that federal
government, state government
and local government
pass and enact,
they converge to sort of
create concentrated poverty
by the time we reached
the '50s and '60s.
So that creates a situation
where in many urban areas,
you had like,
what George Clinton would call,
you know, chocolate cities
in the vanilla suburbs.
Oh, what's happening CC?
They still call it the White House,
but that's
a temporary condition.
There's a lot of chocolate
cities that are around.
We've got Newark,
we've got Gary,
somebody told me we got L.A.
And we're working on Atlanta.
Hey, uh, we didn't get
our 40 acres and a mule.
But we did get you, CC...
I am trying
to tell you that I know now
there is no program or promise
that a president can make.
- Thank you.
- That the federal government can then come in...
...and wave a wand and do this. Yes.
There is legislation in congress.
The condition of black
veterans and white veterans
diverged even though,
when they returned from the war,
they were economically
similar families.
Public housing then
became a black phenomenon.
The people who fall
into this category,
they have to live where society
is pushed them to live.
It... it's depressing
just not to have
any kind of nature. Just, uh
tearing down things
and people constantly tell you,
"You're the cause of this."
Cities didn't
adequately service neighborhoods
that were heavily concentrated
with African-Americans.
Garbage collection
wasn't picked up as frequently,
streets weren't
repaired as well,
and conditions deteriorated
then urban areas became slums.
Yeah, I would like
to rub America's nose
in this and say
take a look at it.
You wanna reject it, go ahead.
But I certainly would hate
to think that anybody
thought I'd said
they were giving up hope.
What I'm really saying
is that society has failed
the hope of the people
who live here and struggle here.
That's what I'm really saying,
they're gonna go on
struggling anyway
whether we fail or succeed.
But at the same time
you have concentration,
you also have clearance,
you have highway construction
which is destroying
black communities.
often time in urban areas
are built dead in the middle
of black communities
so there's
a sort of rising anger
and frustration
that takes place.
Once they became slums,
authorities looked at them
and said, well, we need
to do some slum clearance.
These subsidized homes!
We can't afford no other homes!
What the heck.
Where are all
those black people,
all those little kids,
where are they going?
When they're uprooting
their neighborhood,
they're messing with our unity.
It takes ten years
to re-root yourself.
They know what they're doing,
this is systematic genocide. Systematic.
Well those African-American families who
were displaced, uh, had to move somewhere.
So those families were given
Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
The idea behind
Section 8 is fabulous.
It's exactly
what one would hope is
that people who are impoverished
have an opportunity
to move into neighborhoods
that are not impoverished.
Unfortunately for black Americans,
it doesn't work that way.
A large reason for that is
is you can still legally
discriminate against someone
for using a Section 8 Voucher.
So landlords in most suburbs would not
accept Section 8 Housing Vouchers.
And that's perfectly legal.
White home owners,
deathly afraid
of a black person
moving next to them
because blackness is associated
with lower home values.
We feel your presence
in the neighborhood
can undermine the value of
our homes, and we're concerned.
We'd like you to move out before
it becomes common knowledge
that there's a Negro family
in the area.
- It's nothing personal.
- Oh, it never is.
If it was personal,
well, I'd feel real bad.
We grew up in Philadelphia
actually, originally,
and we were
in an all-black neighborhood
and my life changed
when we moved to South Jersey,
not far from some of the
Levittown type of neighborhoods.
And when we came in, the police
had to come in with us
because people were, uh,
throwing things at our house
and terrorizing
our house at night.
We moved there because we wanted
a place that was integrated
and we just wanted to raise
our standard of living,
and it was the strength of my parents that
said, "This is where we're going to be".
Do you think
a Negro family moving here
will affect
the community as a whole?
- Definitely.
- In what way?
I think that, well,
the property values
will immediately go down
if they're allowed
to move in here in any number.
Do you think
the Meyers staying in Levittown
will affect property values?
Uh, I don't think that the Meyers
have anything to do with the, uh,
the property decreasing
or increasing.
I think it's purely a white
problem, not a Negro problem.
Well, as a result
of all these policies,
we created a segregated system.
And because we've forgotten
now this entire history
of how it happened,
white families believe
that they got where they are
simply by their own hard work
and determination to succeed
in the middle-class life.
What they don't understand
is that their parents
could have come as an immigrant
from a white country
and immediately
had access to loans
and the ability to move in
to white neighborhoods
that black Americans
whose families had
been citizens
for generations could not.
And so, it's not saying that
their families didn't work hard,
but it is saying
that their families benefited
from a great deal of affirmative
action to get where they are.
White Americans don't see what it's
like to live in these communities.
And so, because of that,
they're unable to connect
with what it is like
to be in these areas
that have been deprived
of every type of opportunity.
Now, how do these
communities get seen?
They go for decades
in these festering situations.
They are segregated communities that
have been completely abandoned.
And suddenly we see them only
when they burn something up.
This is a world
of hurt people
crushed by conditions
that they don't understand,
and the rest of America doesn't
even want to admit they exist.
- Can you make it out, what it is?
- Uh, I can't Al.
Smoke just billowing
out of that entrance to the CVS.
What can you say about having all this
murdering and... and co... confusion?
They're poking holes
with a knife.
This is a city
that is out of control.
It happened for reasons we
had not been willing to recognize.
And it is this
riot we must understand
if we are to do something about
the dangers that face us now.
It shouldn't be that
hard to understand
why that becomes kind
of the ultimate outcry.
Because it's the only way
that these communities
becomes visible
to most Americans.
I don't want anything big,
big, big, big.
- You wanna get a meatball hero?
- I think so.
- Where is it?
- Not on here, but you said you can get 'em.
What are
you gonna do, Johnny?
I'm gonna get a meatball
platter, that's what. No bread.
I'm gonna get
a meatball platter.
- Yeah.
- Why?
- I love meatballs.
- So do I.
Just a platter of meatballs,
- and, and he wants a hero.
- Hero?
- Meatball hero.
- Yeah, put parmigiana on it too, okay?
Okay, one platter
with meatball, only meatball.
- Yeah, only meatball.
- Yeah, platter of meatball,
- platter of meatball.
- Yes.
Well, in 1956 when I came
out here, there were farms.
I was five years old
when I came here in 1949.
I came from the South Bronx.
My father foresaw the future
in that area and he says,
"Let's get the hell out
of here." And we did.
He had a very outstanding career
with the police department.
They took him out
of the South Bronx
for the benefit
of the community.
When I first became a policeman,
I was in the riot squad.
And any riot
or any type of demonstration
there was in the city,
I went to it.
Mostly Irish cops on the job
then. And they were nasty.
- They'd tell you to move and you didn't move, you got the stick.
- I mean...
There was law and you didn't...
you didn't disobey it.
Protest all you want,
people fought
for your right to protest,
but you see guys
putting holes in hoses
so they can't put out fires,
not just to businesses,
but to people's homes.
Now, you have
a right to protest,
but you don't have
a right to do that.
Are you sick and tired
of where you are,
working hard for years
for nothing?
Do you have the guts
to step out of where you are
to achieve your
financial freedom?
It's pretty easy to do
if you just follow my system,
step by step.
It's so easy
to make money in real estate
and I'm planning to be
a millionaire by age 25.
Look, I just got my first
deal, and I'm gonna do
many more like this
for millions of dollars.
Make seven deals in 30 days,
make $15,000,
a check to prove it,
one, two, three, four, five...
You can do it too,
what are you waiting for?
I own that one, that one
and this one right over here.
Now's the time to buy a home.
- Eh, Adam.
- Yeah, Halloween.
Trick or treat
would be Halloween.
No, Halloween...
Be good for mom.
- I will.
- Can you be good for mom?
Okay, I'll be good for mom.
Seriously, try to be
a little less crazy.
He has a Masters in Urban
and Regional Planning
from the University of
Minnesota's Humphrey Institute.
Please give them Chuck...
- Thank you.
- ...a warm welcome.
Thank you. Um...
A little bit about our
organization Strong Towns.
Our organization has now evolved
into a national movement
of people trying to reconfigure
their communities,
uh, to be more
financially sound.
Post World War Il America,
the financing mechanisms of it
act very much
like a Ponzi scheme.
You have this immediate
sugar high
with this long-term
liability kind of hanging out
there in the future,
and the last generation standing
is the one that's gonna
have to pick up the bill.
We preyed on our
fellow Americans
just so we could
keep the growth going.
And nobody stopped
to consider the impact
that this was gonna have on
real people and real families.
I was bird dogging,
finding foreclosures
for other investors.
I just saw
that the majority of the wealth
created in the United States
was through real estate.
So, I was determined
to follow that track.
It was so much fun,
at the height of when we were making money,
the company had
season tickets to the Lakers
right behind the Lakers bench.
So Kobe Bryant's wife,
Leonardo DiCaprio,
literally right in front of us,
and when he used to date Gisele
and my son, I'll never forget,
he's 15 years old, Gisele's
sitting right in front of him.
Gisele's hair is hanging
over the back of her seat
and Jeff goes, "Dad",
and I go, "What?"
And he goes, and he starts
playing with Gisele's hair.
So I'm, oh my god.
Anyway, I tell you right,
it was just a bit... But, uh...
Back in '96, '97,
there's a new product
that started to flood the market
called a 125% loan to value.
And when I first
started seeing that, I said,
"This is a recipe for disaster."
Are you a home
owner with too many bills,
too many high interest
monthly payments?
Why not pay them off
with a second mortgage...
They'll lend you up to 125%
of the value of your home,
less your first
mortgage balance.
They went after the payment
buyer, that's what they did.
"Hey, get a $50,000 second
for 500 bucks a month.
Go buy that boat,
go buy that second car."
It wasn't
a home improvement loan.
It was a signature loan that you
could do whatever you want with.
I just thought it was
an exceedingly irresponsible
loan product,
but I took advantage of it.
Tiki, come here Tiki.
Come on, come on, good girl.
Mikey, Mikey, come here, Mikey.
Hey, hey, Cinnabons, no, no!
The lenders got greedy
and they figured,
okay, we exhausted
the 125 potential pool,
let's go make it super easy
to get purchase money now.
If you were to ask me
what the perfect credentials are
to qualify for a home loan, I honestly couldn't tell you.
May I help you sir?
Need a quick
answer on a new home loan?
Oh yeah.
Stated income,
stated employment,
stated, stated, stated,
which means,
whatever the borrower says,
is factual.
As recently as 1997,
you had to put 20% down
and you had to struggle
to save that kind of money.
You fast forward five years,
and a bus boy
from a local coffee shop can
buy the same house for nothing.
We'll have to verify
your credit so
how about a list of creditors?
We don't have any.
If we can't pay cash,
we do without.
Shh, shh, shh.
What are you saying?
That could ruin
the entire American economy.
I mean, where would this country
be if we didn't all owe
more than we could pay back?
In order for the house
of cards to stay standing,
it has to get bigger.
So the guy that's in the three bedroom,
one and a half bath house,
he's gotta move up to the four
bedroom, two bath house.
The house of cards
just kept getting bigger
and bigger
and bigger and bigger,
and bigger
and bigger and bigger.
And it's just all
on fake valuations.
Yeah, at that point,
the home did absolutely
become a vehicle for excess.
Home prices rising, it's
from the Case-Shiller Index.
I look at the number, and I say,
yes this looks good,
it's much better than expected.
You look at the number and say...
Nobody knows
what home prices are gonna do.
People are
increasingly speculative.
When they buy a house,
a major concern is
how much can I sell this to
someone else at the other end.
It can be called, "the greater fool theory."
Maybe I'm a fool
to buy such a big house,
but I'm gonna sell it
to an even greater fool.
There were people who thought
50 or 100 years ago
that home prices
should decline with time,
and the reason is,
they wear out.
Don't expect it to gain value,
expect it to lose value.
That was
a common view in the past.
For so long
we have come as a society
to place a tremendous amount
of value on the home itself.
And the bigger the home,
the better.
It's interesting
because Levittown
and the houses were meant
to evolve and change
as families evolved
and changed over time.
The idea was that this home
would be livable all your life.
You could have one bedroom
or three bedrooms,
depending on what your needs
were at the time.
And, um, this area was, could be
an extension of the living room,
or it could be closed off
and become a bedroom.
So you close it here.
- You wanna go outside so you can talk?
- Yeah, yeah.
You'd close it here.
And then you would enter
from the hallway.
So I have, I'm coming out
from the bedroom hallway now
where all the entrances
are to the bedrooms.
So it could be either
one bedroom or three bedrooms.
Right now,
we created one bedroom here
and in the rear
there's one bedroom
that could be partitioned
with a rolling wall
so it would become two bedrooms.
That was an extension
of the dynamic coming out
of post-war idea
of what the house provided.
Wasn't really
about the upscaling
or the supersizing of the house.
And so that relationship
between the growth
of the physical house
was still somehow in balance.
Subsequently, people began
to make the scale shift,
where the houses
became just large.
I'm in love
with this indoor tree.
I hope it ain't a ficus.
I don't think it is.
So this is where
your dining room would be.
That's a lot of alcohol.
It's a maze, 5000 square feet.
Only one staircase,
it kind of feels like
that back staircase
or something.
I feel like
it's very track home-ish.
So the attached office,
I can see that set up.
That is really
more suited for Grandma.
She doesn't really
wanna have a detached unit.
I don't think Grandma needs
12-foot ceilings though.
The McMansions, they're going
the way of the dodo bird.
People wanna buy what they need
and they don't want any extra.
And this has so much
square-footage and wasted space.
They might get away
with one more sale,
but in the years to come,
it's gonna be
tougher and tougher.
- Connor, was that fun?
- Yeah.
There's just tremendous
economic dependence
on this idea that
we can keep building
new single family homes
in their own lots.
And that they have to keep
marching across the US landscape
because it's a huge part of what the economy
depends on, for its health and wellbeing.
Dolce, come here.
Yes, so our property line
is just basically the white
picket fence all the way around,
all the way back up to there.
So we're gonna have
our garden over here,
and a chicken coop over there.
Gigi's a grand champion.
Uh, not so much Dolce.
So this whole industry of easy,
quick money for property did not
end at the retail borrower.
The developers were
exposed to these funds.
So these companies were
going in and buying up
swaths of land from these
farmers at ridiculous prices.
Just giving them enough money
for their great-grandchildren
to retire on.
And it, it was
just so hard to say no.
And that's where you see all of these
citrus farms in the Inland Empire gone.
And of course,
the cities were loving it,
because the tax basis
on real property
with a house on it
is far higher than farmland.
The cities were seeing
their tax base quintuple,
literally overnight.
And then
the developments stopped.
The United States economy
has never been in better shape.
We have created
the highest standard of living
for a country of our size.
I never knew
How to say
No to you
It's a terrific time to buy.
We've never had a decline
in house prices
on a nationwide basis.
Homes may see
an ebb and flow in the price
but you're not going to see
the collapse
that you see when people
talk about a bubble.
If there is a bubble
burst, as they call it,
I sort of hope that happens because then
people like me would go out and buy.
A new warning that the
housing bubble is about to burst.
How to say no to you
It's poppin'!
Our entire economy is in danger.
And that means life
as most Americans know it,
now it is about to change.
14 million people
took a mortgage
in the last three years.
They will lose their homes.
This is crazy!
That rate is actually higher
among people of color.
Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba
San Bernadino recently became
the third
Californian city
to file bankruptcy.
And unlike a home
owner who can walk away
from a mortgage that's
more than the house is worth,
a municipality cannot.
I never knew how to say no
If you come back
to this property,
it's considered trespassing.
Did you ever think
that this word could become
- 50% of your business?
- No, never would've imagined.
- Say yes
- Yes, I found a flaw
in the model that defines
how the world works.
- Never knew how
- Your ideology was not right?
- To say no
- Precisely.
Say yes
Never knew Yes
Never knew how to say no
Jar opener,
everyone needs one of those.
Yeah, it's not in here.
That's 10 by 17
for the living room.
That was 18
counting the counter.
- Did you count this two feet here?
- No.
I've only been doing
real estate with him
since Natalie was two
so that's, um, 16 years.
After the L.A. Times article,
the Nightline piece, all that,
I remember us being
just completely crazy busy.
I mean, as, as great as it was,
it was such a blur.
- It was a blur?
- Yeah, complete blur.
You think when I said blur,
you think that
I don't know all those details?
I'm just saying blur
meaning it was
a blurred time of my life.
Well, let me add some color then
because I remember every detail.
- I'm sure you do.
- The blog was running...
I don't wanna talk
about those details.
Because of our connection
to Countrywide,
they started,
at least they had us apply
to be one of the agents,
that's what happens.
You should watch
yourself do this 'cause it's...
December 2006,
this house sold
for a million dollars.
1900 square feet, right across
the street from the freeway.
One million.
That's what we call a retro
water heater. A vintage.
Oh, lovely.
If you, uh, are watching
this video and you're a realtor,
and you're jumping off
the couch saying,
"Wait a minute,
I represented the buyer
when they paid a million",
I want you to put your Mai Tai
down and go grab your shingle
and send it in
to the D.R.E. right now.
You don't deserve
to be licensed.
December 2006,
this sold for a million dollars.
Everyone who was on that deal
deserves to get fired.
I'm Jim, The Realtor.
There's a lot
of trust...
...in the marketplace on value.
Could this be just
a value bubble where people
just keep paying
these crazy prices a lot more
than they used to just,
literally, a year ago,
just because they wanna
get a house.
There really isn't the evidence
to help support them
that I can say,
"Oh, for sure, it's worth that."
There's really,
I think, some valid concern
about valuations
when the proof is so thin.
It's always been
a problem in this industry.
There is really just
that one way to determine
what something is worth
is look what other people pick.
What if the other people
were crazy?
They were hoping to get
two million dollars
for these up here,
and you can see they built,
I think,
a handful of 'em and gave up.
And those are five and six
thousand square-foot houses.
Everyone was going
by the mantra, "Get in,
or you might get
priced down forever."
'Cause, up to that point,
no one had seen
any previous downturn,
it just wasn't in the vocabulary
and nobody, including realtors,
ever really thought,
hey, party's never gonna end.
I mean, the thing about this is
this is the kind of crap I used to build.
I was the engineer
who would design
and lay out
and build this stuff.
I would work on these
big development projects.
Cities would come to us,
we want this done,
we go out and build it
and I sincerely believe
that the work I was doing
was building a great America.
But then I started
to ask some questions
about what comes next.
After we build something,
how do we take care of it?
What's the cash flow
that makes this all work?
I started to look at developments
that I had worked on
and run some
larger math problems.
For example, the developer would
come in and build the road,
the developer paid
all the cost to build it.
People have been
paying their taxes,
and the idea was
they pay their taxes,
and then the government
would fix this road.
The cost was
$354,000 to fix that road.
We asked the question,
okay, based on the taxes
the city's collecting
from these people,
how long is it gonna
take them to recoup
the money they just spent?
The answer is 79 years.
As an engineer, I knew that road
wasn't gonna last 20, 25 years.
This doesn't make any sense.
The growth creates what we call,
"the illusion of wealth."
If you lose money on every transaction,
you don't make it up in volume.
Where are we at today?
We... we're like way out here.
You can look at the run up to the
housing crash as a prime example.
Everybody felt like, well we're
doing okay because, you know, yeah,
I made $12,000
in housing payments
but my house went up by $40,000.
I cashed out the difference,
I'm doing fine.
You're essentially
skirting around the core problem
which is that the underlying
economy does not work.
In 2000, we had 1100
census tracts in this country
that you could classify
as persistent poverty.
In 2010, it went
from 1100 census tracts
to 3300 census tracts, three
times the American geography
is now in persistent poverty.
Our places don't work, they're
just designed to decline.
If you don't know what was lost,
you... you don't look
at the place and see,
like, this is decline.
Well I'm 43. If you're 10 years,
20 years, 30 years older than me,
all you see is wounds.
And so it's really hard for you
to get your mind out of that,
and actually see how
this could be a better place.
Now we have an Olive
Garden so we've made it, right?
I don't know, man,
in the Mid-West is heartbreaking.
The Mid-West is heartbreaking.
Think of all the places,
this is like,
one of the last ones I live in
but it's home and I, you know,
- there's a part of me that loves it too.
- Yeah.
Like I look at it and I'm like,
I wanna help this place,
- I want to make it better.
- Yeah sure.
I'm moving the little
Google street view guy...
Yeah, yeah.
...down South 6th Street.
- Yeah, that was our...
- Holy shit, man.
That's our Champs-Elyses, man,
that's our one street...
- One muffler shop after another.
- Yeah, I know.
I'm educated enough to,
to know that I shouldn't talk about
some race things because I'm, I'm...
I realized how ignorant I am.
I mean, I grew up in
a city that is 99% white
and probab...
still is very close to that.
But when you start
to get a mixing of people
in the community like
"the other" start to move in,
whether "the other" is
someone of a different race
or someone
of a different social class,
I think, like,
psychologists have said
there's a natural
human tendency to in a sense,
like circle the wagons.
And what zoning did is
it gave like this really
wonderful tool
to be able to write
in a more camouflaged
kind of racist way,
uh, we don't want
those people here.
I think the irony today is that
it's also now trapped
poor white people.
The mechanic says
you owe
$250 for new brake lines.
- Doug.
- Well, what is you better go to that dude in my neighborhood,
- he'll fix anything for $40.
- White boy, you know Cecil?
Yeah, but my Cecil's name is Jim
and he fixed my refrigerator,
my air conditioner and my cat.
Yeah, yeah,
everybody's got a guy.
Ooh, you alright, Doug.
You know,
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said,
"The, uh, hyper problem
we have today is less race
than it is poverty."
And I think he was
exactly right,
I mean, there...
there's a racial element to it,
but middle-class whites
will sacrifice poor whites too.
There's no racial loyalty there,
they're gonna
kick 'em to the curb.
I've been able to travel
around the country
and experience
different communities.
Uh, it's the same,
it's the same thing.
So you see across the Rust Belt
and you see across rural
America, people struggling,
and those struggles
are kind of shared struggles
with people in urban areas
that have long been left behind.
When you find that you can
no longer get the mortgage,
uh, when you can no longer
cash out the equity,
when you can no longer get
the car loan for the new car,
your world changes
and your experience changes,
and America becomes
like a really cruel place.
We're starting
to see more and more,
that is a mainstream experience.
How are you going to get
your message to anybody
when even the commissions
aren't here and nobody else
comes to council meetings,
how do you...
How are you gonna
get to the people?
You can create a social contract
and make tons of promises.
Uh, we now live in the day when
those promises are coming due.
And that's not
a left or a right thing.
Uh, it kind of transcends
left and right,
'cause neither side
understands that.
They both wanna go back
to what they thought worked.
It didn't work.
is very similar
to many cities
in terms of the way
that it's been wrecked
by post-industrialization.
Between 1950 and 2000,
Baltimore lost
100,000 million factory jobs.
So that's had a negative
effect on people feeling like
they have control over
the necessities of their lives.
We don't like it then.
They can run around
and they say, you bet,
they can run around and gas
and everything else.
We're paying for it!
And what the hell are
the guys on the streets doing?
They're sittin' on the corners,
they can't work,
they got no work.
Doesn't mean anything at all!
And we're not gonna be fooled
against each other anymore.
We're gonna fight with each
other, no matter the Hispanics,
the colored, white, anything,
we're gonna be a rainbow.
Not only this community,
we're gonna get 'em
all together and fight!
We will build it.
Port Covington.
And when we build it...
...it will be ours.
Port Covington,
a bold vision for Baltimore.
At the heart of it,
a new world headquarters
for UnderArmour, an opportunity
for all of Baltimore.
This will be big,
Baltimore big...
Baltimore City Council
put the stamp of approval
on the $660,000,000
for the Port Covington project.
The developers guarantee
the city affordable housing,
jobs in exchange
for the investment.
Our intent is to have a mixed
income, diverse community.
Their definition
of affordable housing
is affordable to
families who're making
about $70,000 per year.
So what we're saying
is, you just can't build
a community with people
who are wealthy.
This sort of a,
you know, snarkiness
- is not helpful to the discussion.
- Boo!
- It doesn't follow logically...
- But if only a select few
individuals get to move
into those neighborhoods,
is there still inequality?
All in favor.
Any opposed?
Remember, we are creating
structural disadvantage
in ourAfrican-American
communities, but we're creating
structural advantage
in our white communities.
And that's where we are today.
It wasn't 'til I got older
and started understanding
um, politics a little bit more,
and at the same time I started
getting real big
into, uh, black history
and about the things
that America had done to us.
A gun shot, a stab
that makes the evening news,
that's spectacular violence.
We readily recognize
that is violence, right?
But we don't recognize
redlining as slow violence.
We don't recognize
putting people in environments
where they don't have
opportunity as slow violence.
But that's what's
going on in Baltimore City.
I was sitting here
at my desk watching the police
and the children interact
on the day of April 27th, 2015.
And the children
were throwing rocks,
the police throwing
rocks back at the children.
And eventually,
the police, you know,
they're shooting rubber bullets
and they deploy tear gas,
and at the moment
they deploy that tear gas,
I'm sitting here and I'm like,
I feel like
this weight
come right on my chest,
and I'm like, I can't breathe.
I couldn't watch it anymore
because I knew it was causing
some sort of physiological
reaction in my body.
It really was, uh, a powerful,
pivotal turning point,
'cause everybody went
into overdrive after that.
Everybody went into throwing
themselves into activism
and non-profit work
and volunteerism.
So, um, this is what
you're gonna talk about here.
So you're gonna
talk about what is home
in a neighborhood mean to you?
Exercise is set up
for you to be with a person
that you would least
likely be with in the room.
Partner up and really
sit with your partner, folks,
don't sit side
by side like this, sit...
- How you doing, Miss Gale?
- Hi, Greg.
I'm originally from Greenmount,
the Greenmount area.
To me, that small section
of a neighborhood is everything
because it's
a certain level of pain
you gotta go through to be,
uh, really from Baltimore,
and when you're really
from a neighborhood
that has a reputation,
you get what's known as a stamp.
I have my, my literal stamp.
You know? Uh...
Zone 18, it stands
for the last two digits
of your area code,
so it's really big,
you know, to be connected
to a neighborhood.
What people outside
this street don't understand,
all of this stuff
is about legacy.
We don't really
know where we come from,
we don't know our families.
So when you decide
that you're a street dude, then you
put your all into being a street dude.
It's really
the only industry that we run,
or we think we run,
you get what I'm sayin'?
So from there, your kids
grow up under your name.
What is your name? What kind of name
you wanna leave for your children?
You get what I'm sayin'? That...
That's the name my father left for me.
I, I could go anywhere
I want to in East Baltimore
and not have a problem
because of who my father was.
But, because
I'm not a street dude,
and, but I still carry
those morals,
I gotta leave my son something.
I'mma buy a block in this city.
And it's gonna be a...
It's gonna be new block,
I'm tryin' to tell you.
I'm gonna help a lot
of people just by giving them
places to stay in,
and doing what I know how to do,
use these hands.
I know too much
about real estate
to not get them
into these homes.
That's gon' be my legacy,
that's gon' be my legacy.
It wasn't until the early '70s
when they started
putting money into the harbors,
and said it would back into
the neighborhoods, which it did not.
I have seen so much in Baltimore
and it hasn't changed
uh, from when
I was younger to now.
Telling us,
our neighborhoods are bad,
and it's dangerous, and then we,
as African-Americans,
feed into it,
and then we move out,
and then other people move in,
then all of a sudden,
the neighborhood's good again.
People who've been here
and have been mentally beaten up
their entire life,
there's so much
that you got to be mad at.
That feeling
of hopelessness in me,
kind of manifested
itself into hate.
So when you get the opportunity
to display your anger,
and it's been pent up forever,
it just,
it goes way beyond
anybody could think.
Hey guys,
theyjust set the CVS on fire.
They just set the CVS on fire.
What you get
an the example of is
what's really
inside of everybody.
Our trials is they
build up and build up.
How far
is this gonna go?
As far as they take us.
- As far as they take us.
- What is this...
Watch out for that.
See that? Theyjust...
Did you see that?
We just saw that
they just,
while we were talking,
they've just cut through
that hose.
We just saw that guy
cut through the hose
trying to thwart
the efforts of the authorities
to actually turn out this fire.
So I'm gonna stop it
right here.
I just wanted you
to see this piece first,
but I wanna do something
else in here too.
You saw that
young man was poking
the water hose
with the pocket knife?
Well, I want you to know,
that's him right there.
Right there.
At 21, with no priors,
I spent two years fighting 25.
And people was trying to give me
more time than I had been on Earth.
It was scary, but it was
eerily familiar,
because it felt like, no matter
what I accomplished in my life,
being the first person
to go to college,
graduating high school,
I felt like
I was supposed to be there.
It's kind of hard
for you to... take this stuff
that we see here and translate
it into the humanity of it
as a person.
A million.
I got a million dollars
in restitution.
$100 a month,
that's 10,000 months.
Anybody know anybody here
that's lived 10,000 months?
Yeah, can't leave the city
'til my restitution's paid.
- Wait what?
- Whoa. I didn't know that.
Yeah, can't, you're not
allowed to leave your city
- 'til the restitutions paid.
- Seriously?
These are the struggles
that don't make the news.
These are the differences
that make people
like myself turn off
from everybody.
Hate yourself,
you know what I mean?
everybody else hates you.
When people make
the claim of, you know,
why would people burn down
their own neighborhood?
I think it's
sort of a glib statement,
to sort of gloss over the fact
that many of these neighborhoods
don't have investment
to begin with.
I mean, why would they
burn down their own community?
I mean,
it really isn't a community
that they've been able
to have ownership in.
Don't push me
'Cause I'm close to the edge
Black communities
have been pushed to the edge
and I think that is
sort of why we see some
of the uprisings we see now.
Black lives matter!
People may begin to understand
that black lives matter,
but black lives don't matter
if black neighborhoods
don't matter.
I came back here subsequently
when I was a police officer.
And it was all bricked up,
all the, the windows, the doors.
It's choice property now.
The area is gentrified.
You know,
gentrification, I suppose,
on one hand is a good thing
'cause it cleans up
the neighborhood,
it makes it nice.
But my heart goes out to
the people who once lived here,
who got moved out, because where
did those poor people go?
You know, they were forced
out of their neighborhood.
Their homes are gone.
If we as a country
don't pay attention
to the places where people live,
the homes that people have,
then we'll continue to go
in circles and not really
get to the root of the problem.
When you look
at a rainforest,
you're seeing
a very complex ecosystem.
Not only do you have
these massive trees,
but you have all the understory,
all the animals.
Every leaf has its own
individual ecosystem.
And when you add up all of that,
you have this massive, massive complexity.
You compare that to,
say, a corn field.
You have one species of plant,
a complete monoculture.
And what you see is a very
efficient undertaking.
And you produce a lot of corn
in a very small space.
But you certainly
don't have the complexity
and the ability to thrive
that a rainforest does.
So what we did
is we switched cities
from being complex
systems to corn fields.
You look back in history,
in the way humans
evolved along with the city.
And what you see
is that messiness,
that friction, that rubbing up
against other people,
is an essential component of it.
And there was a certain discomfort
that went along with that,
but there was also
a social dimension to it,
that we've just completely lost.
This pattern of development
has allowed us
to be intentionally
ignorant of the pain
and the hurt and the needs
that go along in all our places.
My house was shoved
On the corner
On a gravel
Road Edmund Street
But here's
You missed and you got 'em
Never wanted help from me
You'll never say I'm the one
Ayo ayo
You'll never say I'm the one
Ayo ayo
Ayo ayo...