While millions of renters struggle to make ends meet, corporate landlord Stephen Schwarzman, whose company spent mountains of cash to successfully kill rent control ballot measures in California, has bought another multi-million-dollar mansion, according to a news report. Schwarzman already owns posh homes in New York, Palm Beach, Saint-Tropez, and Jamaica. One of the richest people on earth, Schwarzman made his fortune by carrying out predatory business practices that fueled the global housing affordability crisis, United Nations housing experts have said.
Schwarzman, a staunch foe of rent control, is the co-founder of Blackstone Group, one of the world’s largest corporate landlords. CEOWorld recently estimated Schwarzman’s net worth to be $29 billion. In 2018 and 2020, Blackstone shelled out millions in campaign contributions to defeat California ballot measures that would have repealed or reformed statewide rent control restrictions. For the 2020 campaign, Housing Is A Human Right caught Schwarzman and Blackstone trying to dodge public scrutiny by using a shell committee to funnel millions to No on Prop 21.
In 2019, United Nations housing experts Leilani Farha and Surya Deva wrote a letter to Schwarzman, criticizing Blackstone for using “its significant resources and political leverage to undermine domestic laws and policies that would in fact improve access to adequate housing consistent with international human rights law.” Farha and Deva also wrote that Blackstone is one of the leading companies that fuels the global housing affordability crisis.
In 2020, Housing Is A Human Right published a widely read special report about the controversial billionaire, titled “Modern-Day Robber Baron: The Sins of Stephen Schwarzman.” It detailed his rise as a cutthroat executive; his political and financial connections to former President Donald Trump; and his charitable giving to major institutions so he could whitewash his predatory business practices, among other sins.
Last month, City A.M., a news site based in England, reported Schwarzman had bought a sprawling, 2,000-acre estate in the English countryside for $89.2 million (or 80 million pounds) – a staggering sum of cash. While renters in the United States and around the globe can barely afford one small apartment, Schwarzman is reportedly “excited” to spend even more big bucks on restoring his new mansion.
That lavish spending has been funded by Blackstone’s massive real estate holdings, which include apartment buildings and single-family homes around the globe. Farha and Deva found that “Blackstone’s and its subsidiaries’ business model is pushing low-income, and increasingly middle-income, people from their homes. Blackstone’s practices… have abruptly increased the rental payments of single-family rentals, making them unaffordable for millions of existing residents, decreased the availability and affordability of social housing, and has undertook aggressive evictions to protect rental income streams to satisfy investors.”
Then after all that human wreckage, Schwarzman goes out and buys an $89.2 million estate, called Conholt Park, in South West England.
To protect his enormous revenue streams and penchant for buying opulent homes, Stephen Schwarzman and Blackstone are expected to oppose any kind of major rent control legislation or ballot measure in the United States. But the billionaire will have his hands full: a national rent control movement, spearheaded by a coalition of tenants, housing justice groups, labor unions, and social justice organizations, continues to gain momentum in the U.S. Schwarzman will need to explain his need to own five extravagant mansions when millions of tenants can’t even afford one studio apartment.