July 6, 2016
When the neighborhood is owned by billion-dollar companies
    When the neighborhood is owned by billion-dollar companies By MIKE SCHNEIDER | Jul. 3, 2016 9:42 AM EDT | AP APOPKA, Florida (AP) — Many of the single-family homes in …

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When the neighborhood is owned by billion-dollar companies

APOPKA, Florida (AP) — Many of the single-family homes in the Piedmont Park neighborhood of Apopka, Florida, used to be owned by families — the Vargases and the Townes, the Pierces and the Riddles. Now, they’re owned by Blackstone, American Homes 4 Rent and Colony Starwood Homes, companies associated with big real estate investment firms.

And the occupants are tenants, not owners.

In the decade since the housing boom deflated into a bust, financial firms recognized an investment opportunity in hard-hit areas like this Orlando suburb. Single-family homes lost to foreclosure could be bought cheaply and transformed into rent-generating income streams.

The corporate purchases have spread through Piedmont Park and surrounding neighborhoods, where the percentage of renters rose from a bit over 10 percent to more than 35 percent within a decade. Piedmont Park homeowners complain that the result is more transient neighbors, less engagement at homeowners’ meetings and difficulties reaching absentee corporate landlords.

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