10-21-2020  12:56 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Portland Police to Wear Helmets with 3-Digit Identification

Portland Police Bureau said Friday it will assign each officer a three-digit number which will be displayed on their helmets during events

Kafoury & McDougal File Four “Shopping While Black” Lawsuits

One woman was refused gas on her way to work becase the attendant "doesn't serve Blacks"

New Initiative to Boost Black Students’ Success

Oregon Community Foundation oversees grants, coalition of 20 community organizations to support education equity 

Oregon Historical Society Museum to Open Wednesday, October 14, Following Building Vandalism

The Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt, which was taken Sunday evening has been recovered but sustained damage

NEWS BRIEFS

U.S. Senate Votes to Keep a Regulation that Harms Communities of Color and Low- and Moderate-Income Families

OCC overhaul of an anti-redlining law will perversely encourage redlining ...

New Artist Relief Program to Provide $1.25 Million in Relief to Oregon Artists

Applications are now open to professional artists who have experienced or anticipate loss of revenue of $1,000 or more ...

Meals on Wheels Needs 500 Thanksgiving Friendly Chatters

To combat loneliness during the pandemic, volunteers are needed to call homebound participants on Thanksgiving Day ...

Multnomah County Elections Expands Open Hours

SE Portland and Gresham voter service locations now open each Saturday leading up to the Nov. 3 General Election ...

THURSDAY: Blumenauer and Ocasio-Cortez to Hold Joint Town Hall

Lawmakers will discuss their collaboration on housing, environmental justice, and more ...

Proud Boy barred from protests after beating gets jail time

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A member of the far-right Proud Boys has been sentenced to six months in jail after authorities say he violated probation by attending a protest in Portland. Tusitala “Tiny” Toese was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail, according to the Multnomah...

More than 17% of Washington voters have returned ballots

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Voters in Washington state are returning their ballots much earlier than in previous years, with 17.6% of the state’s more than 4.8 million voters already having cast their votes two weeks before Election Day.The secretary of state’s office reported that...

SEC postpones 3rd game this week, moving Missouri-Florida

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Southeastern Conference postponed next week's game between Missouri and No. 10 Florida on Friday, the third league contest moved this week because of COVID-19 outbreaks.The Gators had at least 21 players and coaches test positive for the coronavirus and dozens...

Week 7: Georgia-Alabama in spotlight; schedule disrupted

The COVID-19 pandemic is packing a punch in college football this week, nowhere harder than in the Southeastern Conference.Alabama coach Nick Saban might not be on the sideline when the No. 2 Crimson Tide hosts No. 3 Georgia on Saturday in perhaps the biggest game of the season. Saban tested...

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

Police: Officers fatally shoot armed robbery suspect

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida police officers fatally shot a Black armed robbery suspect Tuesday morning, authorities said.Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan said during a news conference that two officers confronted Dominique Mulkey, 26, minutes after he left a Dollar General store.Employees at...

San Francisco officials let people sue over racist 911 calls

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fed up with white people calling 911 about people of color selling water bottles, barbecuing or otherwise going about their lives, San Francisco leaders unanimously approved hate crime legislation giving the targets of those calls the ability to sue the caller. The Board...

DOJ announces center to help cops, offers aid to Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it has put million toward the creation of a national center that will provide training and assistance to help law enforcement agencies prevent the use of excessive force, and officials expressed hope that Minneapolis...

ENTERTAINMENT

Director Stephen Daldry exits 'Wicked' film adaptation

The long-gestating film adaptation of the Broadway hit “Wicked” has hit another snag. Director Stephen Daldry is exiting the project, a studio representative confirmed Tuesday. The industry trade website Deadline first reported the news. The “Billy Elliot” director has...

Review: Charming 'Over the Moon' gets lost in lunar orbit

The acclaimed animator behind such powerful figures as Ariel, Aladdin, Tarzan and Rapunzel has a new heroine and she's going further than any of his creations — the moon.Twelve-year-old Fei Fei builds a handmade rocket to blast into outer space in the new Netflix movie musical “Over...

Football rules nationally, Dodgers in Los Angeles

NEW YORK (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers played for their season Sunday night on Fox, the seventh game of the National League Championship Series. Win and go to the World Series, lose and go home.At the same time, the Los Angeles Rams played a regular season game on NBC against the San...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Kershaw, LA stars shine, Dodgers top Rays 8-3 in WS opener

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Clayton Kershaw, Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts — the Los Angeles Dodgers...

Grand juror speaks after judge ruling in Breonna Taylor case

LOUISVILLE, Ky (AP) — A grand juror who won a court fight to speak publicly about the Breonna Taylor...

From Detroit to Oakland, pandemic threatens urban renewal

DETROIT (AP) — Downtown Detroit was returning to its roots as a vibrant city center, motoring away from its...

Mexico halfway through quake restoration of old churches

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The earthquake struck in seconds, but three years later restorers still face a...

The Latest: Cases in Czech Rep soar to 12K amid new measures

PRAGUE — Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have hit new record levels as the number of confirmed...

Polish academics protest 'fundamentalist' education minister

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Activists dressed as security guards hung a banner over a Polish Education Ministry...

Vote like your life depends on it
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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