Kushner’s company is relentless in its pursuit of “virtually any unpaid rent or broken lease—even in the numerous cases where the facts appear to be on the tenants’ side.” Residents are slapped with thousands of dollars in fees and penalties, even if they had previously won permission to terminate a lease. All of this is compounded by poor upkeep of facilities. MacGillis describes one family that has had to deal with mold, broken appliances, and physical damage to their unit—even after paying the management company for repairs. In one complex, a resident “had a mouse infestation that was severe enough that her 12-year-old daughter recently found one in her bed.” In another, raw sewage flowed into the apartment.
Jared Kushner stepped down as chief executive of Kushner Companies upon taking his position in the White House, although he retains a $600 million stake in the business, which still holds and manages these properties. “They’re nothing but slumlords,” said one tenant to MacGillis. For someone whose company all but exploits the precariousness and desperation of people who have few other choices for decent housing, it is a fair charge.
What’s striking about this story of exploitation and extraction is how it’s one of many within the Trump administration. There’s the president himself, who stiffed and stole from contractors as a real estate developer, and scammed thousands of people out of their savings with his “university.” There’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who allegedly (and repeatedly) broke California foreclosure laws as head of OneWest Bank by violating statutes on notice and waiting periods and illegally backdating documents to push underwater homeowners out of their homes over sums as small as 27 cents. “After years peddling the kind of dangerous mortgage-backed securities that eventually blew up the economy, Mnuchin swooped in after the crash to take a second bite out of families by aggressively—and sometimes illegally—foreclosing on their homes,” said Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in a statement last December.
I’m sure Kushner will be a voice of reasoned, pragmatic moderation within the Trump administration!
Still, if Kushner wasn’t allowed to make huge amounts of money abusing his tenants, what incentive would people have to be born into a family rich enough that your dad could buy your admission into Harvard?