10-26-2020  12:21 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Candidate Iannarone Welcomes Ruling on Complaint Against Mayor Wheeler

Mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone has welcomed the Multnomah County Circuit court ruling requiring City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero to look into a complaint against Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for loaning his own re-election campaign 0,000

Some Hospitals in Crisis as US nears high for COVID-19 cases

The global surge in coronavirus infections is hitting the United States hard and overwhelming hospitals across the nation

Report: Seattle Officers Used Excessive Force at Protests

Since May, the office has received 19,000 complaints about police misconduct during protests.

PSU’s Black Studies Department Grows, Offers Students Immediate Support

Chair Ethan Johnson announces new hire and COVID-19 Relief Fund

NEWS BRIEFS

How Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard got its Name

Oregon Historical society has republished Publisher Bernie Foster's account of how activists persuaded Portland to rename Union Avenue...

New Crisis Line will Serve BIPOC Community

Lines for Life have launched a new crisis line dedicated to and staffed by Black, Indigenous and People of Color ...

Oregon Reports the Highest Daily Case Count Since the Beginning of the Pandemic

OHA reports 550 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 3 new deaths ...

Thursday, October 22: All Registered Voters Should Have Received Their Ballots

Contact Multnomah County Elections TODAY if you have not yet received your ballot in the mail. ...

Forest Service Now Hiring

Agency accepting applications for more than 1,000 seasonal positions in Oregon and Washington ...

Crews vacuum 'murder hornets' out of Washington nest

BLAINE, Wash. (AP) — Heavily protected crews in Washington state worked Saturday to destroy the first nest of so-called murder hornets discovered in the United States. The state Agriculture Department had spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian...

Roseburg VA police officer accused of placing hidden cameras

ROSEBURG, Ore. (AP) — A Roseburg man who works as a police officer at a Veterans Affairs hospital has been accused of hiding cameras in the bedroom of a young teen. Detectives began investigating after the cameras were found in the 14-year-old’s bedroom, the Douglas County...

Missouri grinds out 1st victory over Kentucky in five years

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri kept handing the ball to Larry Rountree, and Kentucky barely got a chance to take a turn. Rountree carried 37 times for 126 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers dominated the clock and the Wildcats in a 20-10 victory on Saturday.Missouri (2-2 Southeastern...

Humbled LSU eyeing QB contingency vs surging South Carolina

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU coach Ed Orgeron was grateful for an extra week to help the Tigers confront considerable challenges on both sides of the ball.He’ll have to hope that’s enough time for the unranked Tigers (1-2, 1-2 SEC) to turn back South Carolina (2-2, 2-2), which...

OPINION

The Skanner News National 2020 Election Endorsements

Vote like your life depends on it. Read The Skanner News' endorsements for US President, and more ...

The Skanner News Statewide Election 2020 Endorsements

Read The Skanner News' endorsements for Portland Mayor, Portland City Council, and more ...

Muslim Advocates Denounces Trump’s Racist Attacks on Rep. Ilhan Omar and Refugees

The organization says Trump’s attacks invite violence against Rep. Omar and Minnesota’s Somali community ...

Trump and the Lost Country

Discussing the debate, Robert Koehler refers to an article by psychiatrists describing how power causes brain damage ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Pope names 13 new cardinals, including 1st Black US prelate

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday named 13 new cardinals, including Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who would become the first Black U.S. prelate to earn the coveted red hat. In a surprise announcement from his studio window to faithful standing below in St....

Black D.C. archbishop's rise marks a historic moment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory is set to become the first Black U.S. prelate to assume the rank of cardinal in the Catholic Church, a historic appointment that comes months after nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice.Gregory’s ascension,...

Foreign students show less zeal for US since Trump took over

CHICAGO (AP) — On a recruiting trip to India’s tech hub of Bangalore, Alan Cramb, the president of a reputable Chicago university, answered questions not just about dorms or tuition but also American work visas. The session with parents fell in the chaotic first months of Donald...

ENTERTAINMENT

Sandra Oh celebrates Asian culture in film 'Over the Moon'

NEW YORK (AP) — Sandra Oh’s role in the new animated feature “Over the Moon” may not be her largest, but it has deep meaning.The story is set in China and Oh voices the stepmother of a girl named Fei Fei, grieving after the loss of her mother. So she builds a rocket to...

Film depicts Black Lives Matter, #MeToo as new feminist wave

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The documentary genre’s power of immediacy is evident in “Not Done: Women Remaking America," which includes the still-unfolding possibility of the first Black female vice president and the loss of Breonna Taylor.The film depicts a powerful female-driven...

Passenger in Offset's car arrested for concealed weapon

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — A passenger in a car driven by Migos rapper Offset was arrested in Beverly Hills, California Saturday evening on charges of carrying a concealed, loaded firearm in public, police said.The Beverly Hills Police Department tweeted that 20-year-old Marcelo Almanzar...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Kershaw stops steal of home, hands Dodgers 3-2 Series lead

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — As much as Clayton Kershaw has dominated hitters throughout a glittering career, he...

Zeta likely hurricane before hitting Yucatan, heading for US

MIAMI (AP) — A strengthening Tropical Storm Zeta is expected to become a hurricane Monday as it heads...

Typhoon displaces thousands, floods villages in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A fast-moving typhoon forced thousands of villagers to flee to safety in...

Thousands protest as Belarus leader faces demands deadline

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Tens of thousands of protesters in Belarus swarmed the streets of the capital Sunday,...

New cease-fire announced in 4-week Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) — Fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region continued Sunday, but Armenia and...

Spain orders nationwide curfew to stem worsening outbreak

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Buckling under the resurgence of the coronavirus in Europe, the Spanish government...

Vote like your life depends on it
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.

Mingus Mapps 2020
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