12-06-2019  3:06 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Food Professionals See Opportunities to “Scale Up” in School Cafeterias and on Store Shelves

Two Portland women are addressing disparities in the local food scene with Ethiopian and Haitian flavors, ingredients

Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone Climbing Historic Ladders

In 1995, Boone was the first African American woman hired by Portland Fire & Rescue; this year she became its first African American Chief

Christmas Tree Shopping is Harder Than Ever, Thanks to Climate Change and Demographics

For Christmas tree farms to survive, shoppers will need to be more flexible

November Holiday Travel at PDX Brings More Comfort, Convenience and Furry Friends

If you’ve not been to Portland International Airport in a few months, you’re in for some surprises.

NEWS BRIEFS

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

North Carolina Court Decision Upholds Removal of Confederate Monument

Lawyers argued that the monument was installed at the end of Reconstruction to further the false “Lost Cause” narrative,...

Artist Talk with 13-year-old Local to be Held This Tuesday, Nov. 26

Hobbs Waters will be discussing his solo exhibit “Thirteen” at The Armory in Portland ...

Man who 'freaked out’ on plane, forced landing pleads guilty

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Washington man who ingested methamphetamine before getting on a plane in Seattle and had what a prosecutor called a "freak out'' on board pleaded guilty Thursday to interfering with crew members after the California-bound flight was forced to land in Portland.The...

Owners of Thai restaurant chain get prison for tax fraud

SEATTLE (AP) — A couple that used software to hide more than jumi million in revenue at the Thai restaurant chain they owned have each been sentenced to several months in prison and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in fines.The U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle said Thursday that Chadillada...

Missouri fires football coach Barry Odom after 4 seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fired football coach Barry Odom on Saturday, ending the four-year stay of a respected former player who took over a program in disarray but could never get the Tigers over the hump in the brutal SEC.The Tigers finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference after...

Powell, Missouri snap 5-game skid with win over Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — In a game started by third- and fifth-string quarterbacks, the outcome was decided by one of their backups. It was appropriate enough for Arkansas and Missouri, two teams facing their longest losing streaks in decades.Fayetteville High School graduate Taylor Powell...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Kansas judge accused of bigotry, profanities in courthouse

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A foul-mouthed Kansas judge accused of bigotry and racism who cursed at courthouse employees so often that a trial clerk kept a “swear journal” documenting his obscene outbursts is facing complaints that his conduct violates the central judicial canons of...

Buttigieg backs black leaders after Indiana event disrupted

HENNIKER, N.H. (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is applauding African American leaders in his home city for “speaking their truth” after a protester disrupted an event held to demonstrate black support for the mayor in South Bend, Indiana.African American...

Panel calls for Virginia to purge dozens of old racist laws

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The laws are still on the books in Virginia: Blacks and whites must sit in separate rail cars. They cannot use the same playgrounds, schools or mental hospitals. They can’t marry each other either.The measures have not been enforced for decades, but they remain in...

ENTERTAINMENT

Timberlake apologizes to wife for ‘strong lapse in judgment’

NEW YORK (AP) — Justin Timberlake has publicly apologized to his actress-wife Jessica Biel days after he was seen holding hands with the co-star of his upcoming movie.The pop star and actor wrote Wednesday on Instagram that he prefers to “stay away from gossip as much as I can, but...

Veteran producer of 'WarGames,' 'Blue Bloods," dies at 85

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Leonard Goldberg, a network and studio executive and producer whose TV credits ranged from “Starsky and Hutch” in the 1970s to the current drama series “Blue Bloods” and whose independent movies included “WarGames” and...

'Once Upon a Time,' 'Portrait' top AP's 2019 best films list

Associated Press Film Writers Lindsey Bahr and Jake Coyle name their choices for the best films of 2019.LINDSEY BAHR1. “Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood": Quentin Tarantino’s movie business fairy tale, featuring all-time performances from two of our great living movie stars, and the...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Pearl Harbor vet’s interment to be last on sunken Arizona

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (AP) — On Dec. 7, 1941, then-21-year-old Lauren Bruner was the second-to-last man to...

Chase with stolen UPS truck ends with shootout, 4 dead

MIRAMAR, Fla. (AP) — Four people, including a UPS driver, were killed Thursday after robbers stole the...

A locker, a chirp: How tiny clues help solve child sex cases

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — It was the odd-looking locker handles that caught their eye.Investigators spent hours...

Nobel body: ‘Highly problematic’ that peace winner silent

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute has called it “highly...

As 58 migrants drown off Africa, a call to stop smugglers

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — The drowning of at least 58 migrants in the Atlantic Ocean off Mauritania...

Injured journalist seeks answers from Hong Kong police

HONG KONG (AP) — More than two months after being blinded in one eye by what she believes was a projectile...

McMenamins
Bob Christie the Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) -- Francisco and Pam Cruz maneuvered around boxes of new flooring and open cans of paint as they surveyed the foreclosed Phoenix house they would soon call their own.

This house wasn't typical of the thousands in foreclosure-battered Arizona that banks have auctioned for cheap -- often to investors who make just enough repairs to satisfy a

potential renter.

The Cruzes will become first-time homeowners, helped by one of many nonprofit groups that can snag foreclosures at a discount -- and sometimes for free -- before banks make them available to speculators.

It's a glimmer of hope for struggling neighborhoods that are watching banks foreclose on a record number of homes this year.

In the Cruzes' case, Rebuilding Together obtained the home for free from JPMorgan Chase & Co., the bank that foreclosed on its previous owner. Honeywell International Inc. provided the labor to renovate it and $25,000 cash for the materials.

In a market hot with speculators snapping up cheap foreclosures, Rebuilding Together's program is one of many that give a leg up to nonprofits and redevelopment agencies trying to stabilize neighborhoods dotted with vacant houses.

Yet Jim O'Donnell, JPMorgan Chase & Co.'s community revitalization program manager, acknowledges that each home being offered to a community group also has a story about someone who lost it to the bank.

``It's an unfortunate situation, and that's why we really take a conscious effort to work with our partners to ensure that we can have some good stories at the end of this unfortunate equation,'' O'Donnell said. ``Through these programs, we put what I call this protective umbrella over these affordable homes so that first-come first-served nonprofits can get access to them to ensure they get turned back into the hands of the community.''

Cruz and his wife watched earlier this month as more than 70 red-shirted Honeywell Aerospace employees swarmed throughout the three-bedroom house, putting the final touches on new kitchen cabinets, painting baseboards and walls, and cleaning up the landscaping.

``All the neighbors, they're just so grateful, because the house was looking so bad,'' Pam Cruz said. ``This is a good example of the banks working with the mortgage companies and so forth, helping the community revitalize the neighborhood.''

The disabled Vietnam veteran and his wife bought the house after the renovation was complete and got a completely updated home for below market value. The mortgage payment will be much less than the $900 a month they were paying in rent.

Under an expanded agreement announced in September between the federal government and banks that provide about 75 percent of all U.S. mortgages, as many as 100,000 more repossessed homes will join those already being pumped into the nonprofit and redevelopment agency pipeline.

That deal started in 2008 as a pilot program to provide foreclosed homes to cities and nonprofits that could renovate them for low- and moderate-income families. About $7 billion in federal funds has been allocated to the program.

But the discount program will only handle a small percentage of the foreclosures expected in the coming years. Banks seized more than 980,000 homes nationwide through the first 11 months of 2010 and will likely take back a million more next year, according to foreclosure listing firm RealtyTrac Inc.

The home the Cruzes now own is one of 1,200 Chase has donated or sold at steep discounts to nonprofits or community development agencies in the past two years. There are similar programs at other major lenders, including Wells Fargo & Co., which will donate close to 200 homes this year and sell hundreds more at a discount.

The Cruzes said they had been contemplating buying a house for months before a friend who is a real estate agent recommended the couple to Rebuilding Together's Phoenix chapter. As first-time homebuyers, the retired couple were the type of people the group is looking to help.

The nonprofits generally have experience rehabbing homes, and their efforts help pull up home values. Groups like Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together and community development organizations like Detroit Shoreway in Cleveland and Jacob's Ladder in Memphis participate.

The availability of foreclosure homes has helped community-based housing groups like Community HousingWorks in San Diego expand from developing affordable apartment housing to helping buyers get into their first homes.

The 30-year-old group started a nonprofit brokerage in 2008 and soon discovered that buyers were not able to buy homes because of competition from investors.

``The first 15 days on the job back in '08, I made 50 offers and had none of them accepted'' because investors snapped them up, said Jorge Luis Vega, who runs the group's nonprofit brokerage.

Another group that specialized in rehabilitating homes told Community HousingWorks of banks' ``first-look'' programs, and Vega's group signed on quickly.

``Buyers in this market that we serve aren't objecting to price, they're just not being given access to inventory,'' Vega said. ``And I think that these first-look programs are really allowing a lot of folks that want to be in these more diverse communities.''

This year, Community HousingWorks acquired 18 homes, rehabbed them and handed the keys to buyers. Next year, they hope to do close to 100.

In Cleveland, the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood organization has acquired 72 one- or two-family properties in the past two years and is actively leaning on banks to help it obtain more distressed properties.

``The thing we try to get banks to realize is if you sell a property, just fire-sale it to a slum investor, you may hold the mortgage on the property next door,'' said Matt Lasko, the group's housing director. When that owner gets sick of the property next to them, Lasko said, ``then guess what, now you have another mortgage in default.''

Dennis Flynn, executive director of Rebuilding Together in the Phoenix area, said his group has historically focused on fixing up homes for the elderly, disabled and poor. Only recently has Flynn started thinking about actually acquiring properties and putting deserving homeowners in them.

``We'd like to make this a veteran's program,'' he said as he scrolled through a list of more available first-look houses on his smart phone.

For Francisco Cruz, who suffers from diabetes and other ailments he traces to his service as a Green Beret on multiple tours of Vietnam in the 1960s, watching the final touches being put on his home was emotional.

``We were overwhelmed with all these people coming to help us,'' said Cruz, who is known as ``Chico.'' ``Because you know well that labor is the highest thing whenever it comes to remodeling a home. The labor really gets you.''

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