Owned: A Tale of Two Americas

Owned: A Tale of Two Americas weaves together the racist history of mid-century housing policy in America and the ramifications of the 2008 housing market collapse.

Owned_Levittown housing and water tower
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
February 7, 2022
90 minutes

Giorgio Angelini

After touring in bands for most of his 20s, Giorgio Angelini enrolled in the Master of Architecture program at Rice University during the '08 real estate collapse. In that tumultuous time, the seeds for Giorgio’s directorial debut, Owned, took shape. He launched Ready Fictions production company with producing partner Arthur Jones, and produced Show more Jones' film Feels Good Man (Independent Lens). Show less

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Feels Good Man

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The Film

In an effort to bolster both housing supply and a sluggish post-World War II economy, the U.S. government undertook the most sweeping wealth redistribution project in history. The idea was to subsidize home ownership in order to help build a robust new middle class centered around the 30-year mortgage. But this idea was never meant to help everyone. Often attributed to “white flight” from crumbling and dangerous inner cities, the migration of white families from city centers was spawned by something far more calculated. From 1945 to 1965, the intentional, government-fueled mass exodus of white families from inner cities took their jobs and their investment potential into the suburbs. While the government’s postwar housing policy created the world’s largest middle class, it also set America on two divergent paths – one of perceived wealth, propped up by speculation and endless booms and busts, and the other of systematically defunded, segregated communities, where “the American dream” still feels hopelessly out of reach.

Owned: A Tale of Two Americas weaves together the history of mid-century housing policy in America and the ramifications of the 2008 housing market collapse. In 2008, the U.S. housing market became the epicenter of an unprecedented global economic collapse. In the years since,  protests in cities across the country have highlighted the stark racial disparities that define much of America. The crash of suburbia and urban unrest are not unrelated, the seeds of each germinated by the United States’ post-war housing policy. Over time, racist policies have created subcultures in our built environments that are inherently vulnerable and makes clear our society can’t continue to thrive in a segregated state. The stories of a retired New York City police officer, an eccentric Southern California realtor, and an ambitious real estate developer in Baltimore embody the promise of U.S. housing policies and the systematic oppression still plaguing many American cities. Ultimately, the communities created by the country’s housing history may have more in common than they expect.