The Atlantic Daily: The Nightmare Landlords of Wall Street

How some corporate landlords fleeced renters after the U.S. foreclosure crisis. Plus: Trump’s shutdown strategy this time around, Steven Soderbergh’s ‘crackpot theory’ on moviegoing, and more

Carlos Barria / Reuters

What We’re Following

After the foreclosure crisis of a decade ago, American homes were left empty and buyer-less. In that absence, big private investment firms scooped up nearly 200,000 homes under the premise that, as landlords, they could streamline an often shoddy renting process. But, for many of the renters who had thought they had struck gold with lovely homes and lush yards, things didn’t pan out that way. Tenants conveyed stories of rapacious corporate landlords who fleeced them at every turn, from not returning security deposits to forestalling and skirting necessary repairs. One family finally moved out after a series of flooding incidents left them with health problems and a decaying house.

The U.S. government seemed to be careening toward yet another shutdown—but then! Congressional negotiators agreed to a new funding deal, one that only includes a fraction of the billions that President Donald Trump requested for a border wall—the same sticking point that led to a 35-day partial government shutdown starting at the end of last year. While factions of the right-wing media are buzzing in Trump’s ear about a shutdown redux, he so far seems to be taking a different strategy than he did the last time around, indicating that while he doesn’t like the deal, he’ll (likely) vote for it anyways.

Allegations against Bryan Singer finally seem to be turning into an anvil weighing down his reputation and career. The director of Bohemian Rhapsody should be looking forward to the Oscars, where his film is up for Best Picture, but he’s been dogged by an exposé last month that laid out numerous allegations of sexual misconduct over his decades-long career. Despite the maelstrom of negative press, Singer hung on to his gig directing Red Sonja, which was slated to start production later this year, and for which he would have received a reported $10 million paycheck. Now, the company behind the film is putting the project on hiatus (it hadn’t yet secured any financing).

Evening Reads

What Do Early KonMari Adopters’ Homes Look Like Now?

Since Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was published in the U.S. in 2014, millions of people have absorbed her lessons on how to declutter and purge their  homes of items that don’t bring them happiness. Years after doing the cleanout, most people speak favorably about the experience, though it fosters pangs of regret for some:

“The most missed item in all these purges was a special-edition pack of Pepsi bottles, each emblazoned with a cartoon alligator, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the University of Florida’s football program. The bereaved: Imani Clenance, a 34-year-old graduate of the university who lives in New York City. ‘Every now and then I think about those, like, Hmm, those might’ve been kind of cool to keep … But if I really wanted them, I could probably find them somewhere on eBay,’ Clenance says. (I looked—she could.)”

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Steven Soderbergh

(Illustration: The Atlantic)

Steven Soderbergh, the director behind films like Ocean’s Eleven and Erin Brokovich , says in an interview with critic David Sims he has “a lot of crackpot theories about how moviegoing has changed and why”:

One of the most extreme is, I really feel that why people go to the movies has changed since 9/11. My feeling is that what people want when they go to a movie shifted more toward escapist fare. And as a result, most of the more “serious” adult fare, what I would pejoratively refer to as “Oscar bait,” all gets pushed into October, November, December.

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Look Back

50 years ago: Photos from 1969

(Photo: Warren M. Winterbottom / AP)

In the above photo, FBI agents carry the Vietnam War draft resister Robert Whittington Eaton, 25, out from a home in Philadelphia, where Eaton had chained himself to 13 young men and women.

Also fifty years ago: Sesame Street premiered, humankind sets foot on the moon, and more. Glimpse more of the global events of 1969, in this gallery from The Atlantic’s photo editor Alan Taylor.

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