07-15-2019  1:33 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Tobacco in Oregon: Cheap, Sweet, Plentiful and Sold at Kids’ Eye Level

New report shines light on tobacco industry marketing across Oregon

Hope for Historical Preservation in Portland’s Black Neighborhoods

The current preservation movement is about shifting focus to the preservation of cultural heritage sites, and Black history advocates have reason to hope this means better protection in historically African American neighborhoods

Edwards Retires

After 10 years with the city and decades as a ‘community mom,’ Antoinette Edwards is retiring to ‘be still for a while’

TriMet Brings Yellow Line Up To Speed in North Portland

Upgrades will allow the line to run at regular speeds during higher temperatures

NEWS BRIEFS

Police Evacuate City Hall, Close Terry Schrunk Plaza

City Hall closed due to suspicious package ...

Oregon Settles with Health Insurer Premera Over Data Breach

Oregon to receive jumi.3 million from settlement ...

Michael Lewellen Appointed New Vice President for Marketing and Communications at University of Portland

Former Portland Trail Blazers executive steps into new role July 15 ...

John Morrow, Jr. Receives Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing

Morrow, military historian and author, is the first African-American recipient of the Pritzker Military Museum & Library...

Jeff Merkley Book on Refugees to be Published in August

'America is Better than This' will be published by an imprint of Grand Central Publishing ...

Oregon schools must teach the Holocaust

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon will require public schools to teach about the Holocaust and other genocides.Gov. Kate Brown signed a bill Monday to add Holocaust instruction to the school curriculum starting in the 2019-2020 school year. Eleven other states require some level of genocide...

Toddler struck, killed by father backing up vehicle

OTIS, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a toddler was struck and killed in northwestern Oregon by a pickup truck his father backed out of the driveway.KOIN reports that emergency responders rushed to the home in Otis, Oregon, around 9:45 p.m. Sunday, authorities said in a release. The pickup's...

The Latest: Missouri still awaiting decision on NCAA appeal

HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on SEC media days (all times local):2:05 p.m.Missouri coaches and players feel good about the Tigers' football team, especially after adding former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant to a veteran offense during the offseason.That's led to lofty goals for the...

Former Missouri football coach Pinkel says cancer returned

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Former Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel says he is being treated for cancer again.Pinkel told ABC17 TV in Columbia Saturday that he had treatment last month after his cancer came out of remission for the first time in four years.Pinkel retired after the 2015 season...

OPINION

Hearing on H.R. 40 Puts Reparations Debate in National Spotlight

“These are the vestiges of enslavement that people don't want to deal with,” said Dr. Julianne Malveaux, the former President of Bennett College. ...

Perfecting the Cat Nap: Lessons on Sleep From a Cat

Watching Soleil's languorous lifestyle has inspired me to establish better sleeping habits which have led to increased happiness and productivity. ...

Happy Independence Day!

The Skanner would like to wish all of our readers a relaxing and safe 4th of July. Wondering about the history and science of fireworks? ...

Plastics Are Strangling the Planet

You have probably heard about islands of plastic (and other garbage) inhabiting our oceans. The impact of this is the dying off of entire segments of oceans. In addition, many countries in the global North, including but not limited to the USA, look at the...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Charlottesville victims describe pain of attack

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the state sentencing of a man convicted on federal hate crime charges related to a white nationalist rally (all times local):4 p.m.A woman who was seriously hurt in a car attack on anti-racism protesters during a white nationalist rally in Virginia...

After Supreme Court ruling, NC gerrymandering case begins

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A partisan gerrymandering trial began Monday in North Carolina, where election advocacy groups and Democrats hope state courts will favor them in a political mapmaking dispute that the U.S. Supreme Court just declared is not the business of the federal courts.Lawyers for...

Some in GOP rebuke Trump, but party leaders still silent

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Republicans remained largely silent after President Donald Trump said over the weekend that four women of color in Congress should "go back" to the countries they came from. By Monday, some in the party were speaking up.Several GOP senators, and some House Republicans,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Fox 2000 chief joins Sony after being jettisoned by Disney

NEW YORK (AP) — Elizabeth Gabler, whose Fox 2000 produced acclaimed literary adaptations like "Life of Pi" and "Hidden Figures" before being axed in the aftermath of the Walt Disney Co. acquisition, has found a new home at Sony Pictures.Sony on Monday announced a new production deal with the...

'Spider-Man' does victory lap over 'Crawl,' 'Stuber'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "Spider-Man: Far From Home" is celebrating another weekend at No. 1, but non-franchise fare continues to struggle at the box office. Fresh studio-released counterprograming such as the horror movie "Crawl" and the action-comedy "Stuber" barely made a dent in the...

State investigating Wally Lamb's inmate writing program

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The state of Connecticut is investigating an inmate writing program run by author Wally Lamb after a lawsuit was filed this spring by participants.The lawsuit alleges the inmates have not been paid for their contributions to Lamb's third anthology of writings designed...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Trump nominates Esper to be defense chief, succeeding Mattis

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Monday asked the Senate to confirm Mark Esper as the successor...

Scientists close in on blood test for Alzheimer's

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Scientists are closing in on a long-sought goal — a blood test to screen people...

Final blast of torrential rains unleashed by weakened Barry

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Tropical Depression Barry spared New Orleans from catastrophic flooding, but it still...

India aborts moon mission launch, citing technical glitch

SRIHARIKOTA, India (AP) — India aborted the launch on Monday of a spacecraft intended to land on the far...

Italian police clear migrant squatters amid burning debris

ROME (AP) — Migrants and squatters set up burning barricades at an abandoned school outside Rome on Monday...

Telescope foes tie together, block road to Hawaii summit

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii (AP) — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered Monday at the base of Hawaii's tallest mountain...

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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