Tikkun Olam Watch

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Recently, in a four-part series published in the Charlotte Observer, my old college roommate Binyamin Appelbaum, broke a huge story about another corporation — Fortune 500’s Beazer Homes — taking advantage of the little man.

Southern Chase was a new kind of subdivision for Beazer, an experiment in selling low-cost homes to low-income families.

The strategy was a financial success for Beazer.

But the neighborhood fell apart.

Seventy-seven buyers have lost homes to foreclosure in a subdivision of 406 homes. That’s about one in five, more than six times the national rate…

…an Observer investigation found Beazer acted in ways that made a high rate of foreclosures inevitable. Beazer not only built the homes in Southern Chase, it arranged mortgage loans for two-thirds of the buyers. The company used that control to arrange larger loans than some buyers could afford. That allowed it to include the cost of financial incentives in the price of homes.

Some of Beazer’s actions violated federal lending rules, the Observer found. (MORE)

Now, thanks to Binyamin’s reporting, Beazer is the subject of an investigation launched by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

So kudos to Binyamin. Here’s journalism at its best — a reminder that sometimes writing can make a difference.

Posted on April 6, 2007

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