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The Steve Jobs of Housing

Earlier this week I was talking with a friend who just moved back to L.A. and into one of those managed apartment buildings downtown that are something like dorms on steroids. The amenities are pretty good: she’s steps away from the gym, there’s rooftop cookout spots, the ceilings are high and the layout doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a shipping container headed towards a final destination of senility and death.

The staff though, is motivated by the corporation’s relentless pursuit of profit to be a bunch of argumentative dicks—once you’ve signed your lease, that is. The adversarial relationship starts to take on the tone of RAs vs. students, and the dorm metaphor comes to full fruition.

There are a lot of buildings like this in L.A.. There are some that have hideous reputations on Yelp for being overcharged slums with fancy façades.

It seems to me that the worst people become landlords. That no matter the place you are on the socio-economic ladder if you’re renting you’re probably dealing with some serious bullshit. (I’m lucky right now: no bullshit, but plenty of quirks.)

As I listened to her story—involving a car that got towed by the building that was supposed to be on the lease—I started to wonder where the Steve Jobs of the housing market is. The person who is committed to creating the best user experience possible for the thing we all absolutely need: housing. Who would doggedly chase after that goal, and in so doing bring higher standards within reach of more people.

I know, it’s a very middle class problem to be concerned with. Yet would’t it be nice to have something worth aspiring to in the middle class?