02-26-2024  4:50 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Amid Fentanyl Crisis, Oregon Lawmakers Propose More Funding for Opioid Addiction Medication in Jails

Democrats are looking to counterbalance restoring criminal penalties for possession with expanding access to treatment for a potentially growing number of people in the criminal justice system. The proposal would create a million grant fund for jails looking to provide opioid addiction medication. Federal data shows only 24% of jails provide such medication to people with prior prescriptions.

KGW Apologizes After Airing Racist Image

Television station KGW says it deeply regrets inadvertently showing a racist image during a segment called “The Good Stuff,” which invited viewers to share “cheesy, silly, or memorable” photos from the past. The 1950s image showed children throwing balls towards a sign prominently displaying a racial slur. KGW apologised for “the profound hurt this image inflicted upon our viewers and staff, particularly members of our Black community.” Leaders of the Portland NAACP chapter said they were appalled

Rep. Blumenauer Talks Retirement from Congress and His Plans to Help Put Portland Back Together

U.S. Representative for Oregon has held his seat for nearly 30 years.

NEWS BRIEFS

Black Community Input Helps Fuel George Park Project

The effort is an innovative partnership between the City, Portland Parks Foundation, and The Kidz Outside ...

Renewal of School Local Option Levy Will be on May Ballot

If approved by voters, the levy renewal would maintain the current tax rate and continue to fund approximately 660 teachers and other...

Wyden, Merkley Announce $70,000 for the Oregon Food Bank

“Nothing is more important than making sure folks in need have food to eat, and the resources to thrive,” Wyden...

Historic Church in Seattle Hosts Free Black History Month Film Series for All

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located in Seattle’s historic Central District, will host “Freedom Fridays: A Black History...

US government may sue PacifiCorp, a Warren Buffett utility, for nearly jumiB in wildfire costs

The U.S. government is threatening to sue PacifiCorp, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, to recover nearly jumi billion in costs related to the 2020 wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California, though the company is trying to negotiate a settlement. The potential...

Man is shot and killed on a light rail train in Seattle, and suspect remains on the loose

SEATTLE (AP) — A 26-year-old man was killed in a shooting on a light rail train in Seattle and a suspect who fled the scene remains on the loose, police said Monday. Officers responded around 11:30 p.m. Sunday to a report of a man shot on the light rail train downtown, the Seattle...

Vanderbilt visits Arkansas following Battle's 42-point outing

Vanderbilt Commodores (7-20, 2-12 SEC) at Arkansas Razorbacks (14-13, 5-9 SEC) Fayetteville, Arkansas; Tuesday, 9 p.m. EST BOTTOM LINE: Arkansas hosts the Vanderbilt Commodores after Khalif Battle scored 42 points in Arkansas' 88-73 victory against the Missouri Tigers. ...

Grace Beyer sets women's NAIA career-scoring record with 32 points in season finale

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Grace Beyer set the women's NAIA career-scoring record on Saturday, rising to 3,874 points with a 32-point effort in an 80-56 victory for University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy (St. Louis) over Hannibal-LaGrange (Missouri). Needing 14 points to pass the NAIA...

OPINION

Message from Commissioner Jesse Beason: February is 'Black History and Futures Month'

I am honored to join the Office of Sustainability and to co-sponsor a proclamation to mark “Black History and Futures Month” ...

Ending Unfair Contracts Harming Minority Businesses Will Aid Gov. Kotek’s Affordable Housing Goals

Senate Bill 1575 will protect small businesses from state and local government’s unfair contract practices while also allowing the building industry to help the governor meet her affordable housing project goals. ...

February is American Heart Month

This month is a time to recognize that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, especially in the African American community ...

Thrilling History of Black Excellence in Our National Parks

In every facet of American life -from exploration; conquest; defense; economy; resistance; conservation and the pursuit of human rights – I can show you a unit of the National Park System where the event took place, where African Americans made the...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

United Daughters of the Confederacy would lose Virginia tax breaks, if Youngkin signs off

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Legislation that would end tax benefits for the United Daughters of the Confederacy — the Richmond-based women's group that helped erect many of the country's Confederate monuments — is on its way to Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who hasn't said whether he...

Attorneys argue over whether Mississippi legislative maps dilute Black voting power

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi legislators diluted the power of Black voters by drawing too few majority-Black state House and Senate districts after the most recent Census, an attorney representing the NAACP and several residents told three federal judges Monday. But during...

MILAN FASHION PHOTOS: Feben, Rave Review promote looks for women of all shapes, ages and sizes

MILAN (AP) — London-based designer Feben opened the last day of Milan Fashion Week with a refreshingly diverse runway in every way, both in size and race. “I think why you are not seeing that around is because you are not seeing a lot of Black women in creative roles,” said the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Movie Review: Buckle up for a queer road trip caper in Ethan Coen’s spry ‘Drive-Away Dolls’

“Drive-Away Dolls” is, technically speaking, made up of old parts. Its script was written two decades ago, when references to Ralph Nader and Chelsea Clinton’s security detail were current. Its homages are even more vintage, with trippy transitions harkening back to the...

A beloved fantasy franchise is revived with Netflix's live-action 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

NEW YORK (AP) — A new entry in the “Avatar” franchise is about to soar and James Cameron has no part in it. “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a completely different fictional world from Cameron's Pandora but the two similarly named dueling sci-fi fantasy properties have kept...

A trio of warming spices makes this beefy Egyptian omelet dinner-worthy

Omelets often are served at breakfast or brunch in the U.S., but in plenty of cuisines the dinner table is fair game, too. Which also means you're not limited to American-style omelets, which can be overly cheesy, greasy and salty. We keep things lighter and more flavorful with...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Actor Gérard Depardieu faces another sexual assault complaint as #MeToo echoes through French cinema

PARIS (AP) — French actor Gérard Depardieu faces another complaint of sexual assault, this time from a movie...

Sideways moon landing cuts mission short, private US lunar lander will stop working Tuesday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — A private U.S. lunar lander is expected to stop working Tuesday, its mission cut...

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

WASHINGTON (AP) — An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the...

Feleti Teo is named Tuvalu's new prime minister after elections that ousted Taiwan supporter

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tuvalu’s former Attorney General Feleti Teo was named prime minister of the tiny...

Israel's air force strikes deep inside Lebanon, killing 2 people, after Hezbollah downs a drone

BEIRUT (AP) — The Israeli military said its air force on Monday struck targets of the militant Hezbollah group...

Senegal's president says elections will be held before the rainy season around July

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Senegal's President Macky Sall told a national dialogue Monday that elections will be held...

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.

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast