09-24-2021  11:43 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon School Board Ban on Anti-Racist, LGBT Signs Draws Ire

An Oregon school board has banned educators from displaying Black Lives Matter and gay pride symbols, prompting a torrent of recriminations and threats to boycott the town and its businesses.

New, Long-Term Black Lives Matter Public Art Piece Installed at Seattle City Hall

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture today announced that a new, long-term Black Lives Matter public art piece has been installed at Seattle City Hall.

Black Man Fatally Shot Outside Bend Nightclub, Man Arrested

A Black man was shot and killed outside a bar by a white man in central Oregon

Cascadia Names New Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Bukhosi Dube will lead innovative “integrative health” model

NEWS BRIEFS

5th Annual Yard Tree Giveaway Events to Begin

Free trees for all Portlanders continue Portland Parks & Recreation’s Urban Forestry division’s mission to grow, preserve, and...

House Passes Historic Abortion Rights Legislation With Support of Reps. Bonamici, Defazio, Blumenauer and Schrader

Today’s vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act comes three weeks after Texas’s radical 6-week abortion ban went into...

Oregon Announces Stabilization Grant Opportunity to Assist Child Care Providers

Oregon received approximately 4 million in grant funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to be paid directly to eligible...

TriMet Plans Weekend Construction Along MAX Red Line to Help Keep Trains Running Efficiently

Shuttle buses will replace MAX Sept. 25-26 between Gateway Transit Center and Portland International Airport ...

Larsen Chairs Hearing on Surge in Air Rage Incidents, Effects on Workers, Airlines, Airports

The hearing was an opportunity for the subcommittee to examine the alarming increase in disruptive and unruly airline passengers, the...

Tribe wins major step toward resuming whaling off Washington

SEATTLE (AP) — An administrative law judge has recommended that a Native American tribe in Washington state once again be allowed to hunt gray whales — a major step in its decades-long effort to resume the ancient practice. “This is a testament to what we've been saying...

Civil rights complaint targets Idaho health care rationing

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An advocacy group for older adults has filed a civil rights complaint against Idaho over the state's “crisis standards of care” guidelines for hospitals that are overwhelmed by patients amid the coronavirus pandemic. The group Justice in Aging asked the...

Boston College hosts Missouri in juicy ACC-SEC matchup

BOSTON (AP) — ACC vs. SEC. It’s a juicy interconference matchup when Boston College (3-0) hosts Missouri (2-1) on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. BC, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, will be hosting the first Southeastern Conference school since...

College Football Picks: Neutral sites for 2 ranked matchups

Last week, college football gave fans one of its tastiest, and unfortunately rare, treats when Auburn visited Penn State. Good teams. Great setting. Entertaining game. What college football is all about. This week, not so much. The...

OPINION

Homelessness, Houselessness in the Richest Country in the World: An Uncommon Logic

When and why did the United States of America chose the wealth of a few over the health, wealth, and well-being of so many ...

American Business Leaders Step Up to Fight Inequities in the South

With COVID-19 still an omnipresent concern and the country’s recovery still very much in jeopardy, individuals, families, and communities are struggling to deal with issues that have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. ...

Waters Statement on 20th Anniversary of September 11 Attacks

Twenty years ago today, our nation suffered devastating terrorist attacks on our soil and against our people that wholly and completely changed the world as we knew it. ...

Letter to the Editor: Reform the Recall

Any completely unqualified attention seeker with ,000 for the candidate‘s filing fee can be the largest state in the Union’s next governor ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Nationalizing her governor run? 'You bet I am,' Sanders says

CABOT, Ark. (AP) — She's toured the state in an RV emblazoned with her name, launched a TV ad that's airing during Arkansas Razorbacks football games and spoken to packed rooms at restaurants. Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders' introduction as a candidate for governor hasn't...

10 years after ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell,’ cadets see progress

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) — Kelli Normoyle was nervous as she arrived at the Coast Guard Academy campus in Connecticut in 2008. She had come out as a lesbian to a few friends near the end of high school, but she faced a military environment where “don’t ask, don’t tell” was still the policy...

Neo-Nazis are still on Facebook. And they’re making money

BRUSSELS (AP) — It’s the premier martial arts group in Europe for right-wing extremists. German authorities have twice banned their signature tournament. But Kampf der Nibelungen, or Battle of the Nibelungs, still thrives on Facebook, where organizers maintain multiple pages, as well as on...

ENTERTAINMENT

X Ambassadors push boundaries with new multimedia project

NEW YORK (AP) — To say the third, full-length album from X Ambassadors has a lot going on would be a little bit of an understatement. It’s a concept album about a fledgling superhero but also a trip into Jungian psychology and a valentine to old-fashioned radio dramas. It...

Former ABC News executive says Chris Cuomo harassed her

NEW YORK (AP) — A television executive who accused Chris Cuomo of groping her at a party 16 years ago says the CNN anchor needs a public education about sexual harassment and if he did that, “he'd be a hero instead of a cad.” The executive, Shelley Ross, said Friday she's...

Harris 'View' interview delayed, hosts positive for COVID-19

NEW YORK (AP) — Vice President Kamala Harris' live interview on “The View” was abruptly delayed Friday after two hosts of the talk show learned they had tested positive for COVID-19 moments before Harris was to join them on the set. Cohost Sunny Hostin and guest host Ana...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Back in Haiti, expelled migrant family plans to flee again

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — You’re lucky, the U.S. officials said. “You’re going to see your family.” ...

Powell meets a changed economy: Fewer workers, higher prices

WASHINGTON (AP) — Restaurant and hotel owners struggling to fill jobs. Supply-chain delays forcing up prices for...

Autopsy: Actor Michael K. Williams died of drug intoxication

NEW YORK (AP) — Actor Michael K. Williams died of acute drug intoxication in what New York City's medical...

Contenders tout credentials in close vote to replace Merkel

BERLIN (AP) — The contenders to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany's chancellor sought to mobilize voters Friday...

Back in Haiti, expelled migrant family plans to flee again

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — You’re lucky, the U.S. officials said. “You’re going to see your family.” ...

Thunberg joins large German climate rally ahead of election

BERLIN (AP) — Tens of thousands of environmental activists staged a rally outside Germany's parliament Friday,...

Anna Challet New America Media

SAN FRANCISCO -- Despite soaring home prices in the Bay Area, many homeowners in communities of color are dealing with a perfect storm of housing ills.

"The Bay Area has strong pockets of homeownership by people of color – in Oakland, in Richmond, in the Bayview," says Gloria Bruce, Deputy Director of East Bay Housing Organizations. But due to the number of foreclosures in recent years, she adds, "there are fewer homeowners than there used to be, and the homes are less likely to be controlled by people who live in the community."

In 2011, the Center for Responsible Lending reported that homeowners of color nationwide, particularly Latinos and African Americans, were about twice as likely to lose their home to foreclosure as their white counterparts – owing in part to the fact that these homeowners were more likely to have been targeted for subprime loans.

Today, of the 6.9 million California homeowners who have a mortgage, over 2 million of them are underwater according to foreclosure database Property Radar, meaning they owe more on their home than it is actually worth on the open market. Many of the hardest hit areas in terms of home devaluation are in communities of color. Some 46 percent of the homes in the 94607 area code of West Oakland, for example -- a historically African American neighborhood -- are currently underwater, according to real estate database Zillow.

In addition to losing money on their property, many of these same homeowners are still grappling with the economic recession in other ways. Cheyenne Martinez-Boyette, who leads the Homeownership Program at Mission Economic Development Agency in San Francisco, says that many of his clients are struggling due to "being unemployed or underemployed," leaving them unable to get back on their feet. Without the income to qualify for a loan modification, many could eventually wind up losing their homes. Ironically, if they did lose their home, many would be unable to afford a rental unit in their neighborhood due to rising property values and rents. For families with children in school, says Martinez-Boyette, relocating is especially difficult.

"We don't see a lot of affordable rentals," says Martinez-Boyette. "We have a large base of people who have lost their homes – where do they go to?"

Bruce says that with the elimination of redevelopment agencies under Governor Brown in 2011, which provided for affordable housing projects, places to live are even scarcer.

"There's increasing concern about what people are going to do," agrees Kevin Stein, Deputy Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition. "It's expensive to rent and we have an affordable housing crisis."

Investors and Cash Buyers

So, who is buying up foreclosed homes? One indicator is the dramatic increase in cash sales, which have recently accounted for over a quarter of the home sales in California, according to Property Radar. In 2007, that number was below 10 percent.

The nonprofit Urban Strategies Council found that in Oakland, investors bought nearly half of the over 10,000 homes that foreclosed between January 2007 and October 2011. Over 90 percent of the homes those investors purchased are in low-income neighborhoods.

"Investors are coming in with cash and crowding out people who want to buy [a] house because it's affordable and rates are low, and the seller might rather deal with an investor," says Stein.

Foreclosed homes that are "distressed" -- fallen into disrepair or in need of work to bring them up to code – present another challenge for prospective homeowners who rely on loans. Stein says that, for example, if a buyer wants to use a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, he or she can't bid on a property that doesn't meet FHA requirements, which many distressed homes don't. Those same homes are often snatched off the market by cash-paying investors who can afford to bring them up to code. The end result is a diminished stock of affordable housing for buyers who are looking to be owner-occupants.

Foreclosed properties in communities of color are more likely to be in distress and left vacant, as banks and lenders are less likely to maintain foreclosed properties in communities of color, according to an investigation by the National Fair Housing Alliance.

"A lot of local people are really priced out of buying a home," says Bruce. "People with deep pockets can make cash offers, and the average local home buyer can't compete."

"The average middle class family just cannot afford to buy a home that's decent, let alone low-income individuals," she says.

Bank Malfeasance and Scammers

Thanks to the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, which went into effect in January, there is one bright spot in the landscape: both Stein and Martinez-Boyette say that they've seen a recent decrease in homeowners being foreclosed on while they are in the process of obtaining a loan modification -- a practice known a "dual tracking" -- which the Homeowner Bill of Rights prohibits.

But the fact remains that the largest mortgage servicers continue to deny loan modifications to homeowners who are qualified to receive them. Over 60 percent of federally certified nonprofit housing counselors and legal service lawyers surveyed by the California Reinvestment Coalition earlier this year said that the largest mortgage service companies continue to do this, while over half of counselors reported that the banks are offering no clear explanations for the rejections.

The same study found that in many cases, clients who spoke little English were unable to speak to their servicers in their native language or through a translator.

Martinez-Boyette also continues to see mortgage loan scams. Recently he's seen "realtors who are trying to pawn themselves off as lawyers," and they typically target clients with limited English proficiency.

Martinez-Boyette cites the case of one family that had hired a realtor who had falsely identified himself as a bankruptcy attorney. The realtor was charging the client an ongoing fee to assist with a loan modification, despite the fact that the client was ineligible for a loan modification due to lack of income.

For stories of Bay Area homeowners and tenants who have been helped by free legal advice, see the stories of the Castillofamily, the Camelofamily, and the Jonesfamily.

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events