Bo’s news clips: Austin looks for new ways to pay for low-income housing

With all the chips on the table, including social and housing programs, all eyes focus on the continuing bargaining as Washington deals with the fiscal cliff. Meanwhile, the legal of fallout of sleazy mortgage deals cut by banks during the housing boom continue to mount.

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U.S. agency sues JPMorgan over mortgage securities

By Aruna Viswanatha       Reuters       Dec 17, 2012

The U.S. credit union regulator sued JPMorgan Securities and Bear Stearns & Co on Monday over $3.6 billion in mortgage securities the bank allegedly sold to credit unions that collapsed because of losses from the securities.

The lawsuit by the National Credit Union Administration is its second against JPMorgan involving losses to credit unions. In June 2011 the agency sued it over some $1.4 billion in securities in which JPMorgan was the underwriter and seller. That suit is still pending.

The actions add to a growing list of cases the largest U.S. bank is fighting over conduct by Bear Stearns, which JPMorgan acquired in 2008.

After the New York Attorney General sued JPMorgan in October alleging that Bear Stearns deceived investors buying mortgage-backed securities in 2006 and 2007, the bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, lashed out at the government.

Speaking at a Washington event, Dimon said the company lost $5 billion to $10 billion in Bear Stearns-related costs and is still paying the price for doing the Federal Reserve “a favor” by buying the teetering investment bank.

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After ballot rejection, Austin looks for new ways to pay for low-income housing

By Marty Toohey        Austin American-Statesman       December 14, 2012

Five weeks after Austin voters rejected a $78.3 million bond proposal for low-income housing, City Council members are looking for other ways to spend money on affordable housing.

On Thursday, the council, despite some concerns, unanimously directed city management to find between $8 million and $10 million in the city budget for low-income housing. Council Members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo say that money could leverage at least $30 million in state and federal grants.

The money would go to two “shovel ready” apartment complexes built by nonprofit or private organizations, plus possibly other projects, according to city staff members who worked with Morrison and Tovo as they crafted the proposal.

“The affordable housing issue is one that is not going away in Austin,” Morrison said in an interview.

The resolution doesn’t bind the city to spend whatever money the city staff might find in city coffers. Mayor Lee Leffingwell said he will probably oppose whatever spending possibilities the city manager brings back to the council.

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Terraces at Haven for Hope answers housing need

By Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje       San Antonio Express-News     December 12, 2012

Two years ago, Beaux Gilliam, 60, found himself out of work and sleeping on the sidewalk near a downtown church.

Last month, he moved into spacious, airy digs, the first resident of a new affordable housing apartment complex at Haven for Hope, the city’s homeless center, where he’d lived for the past year.

“This gives me a new sense of independence,” Gilliam said Wednesday in his studio apartment, which he’s decorated with framed pictures and other homey touches. “When you’re on the streets, it’s depressing and discouraging. This just lifts you up.”

The Terraces at Haven for Hope, 140 apartments for graduates of the Haven for Hope campus as well as low-income residents from across the city, is a unique form of supportive housing and one of the first of its kind in the nation, said Haven President and CEO Mark Carmona.

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Fort Worth housing initiative shows results

By Scott Nishmura        Fort Worth Star-Telegram     December 17, 2012

FORT WORTH — Fifty-four homes built this year by a city-private partnership in the Historic Southside neighborhood are almost all leased.

Tenants leased four last week, and four remain. Demand for the three- and four-bedroom, two-story frame homes — rented to families for up to $1,080 monthly under affordable housing rules — is the latest encouraging sign in the piece-by-piece revitalization of the low-income central city neighborhood, officials say.

“Community revitalization has to have a housing component, and it has to have an economic development component,” said Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, whose district contains the neighborhood.

The neighborhood, once known as Terrell Heights, had a grand opening last week on the $10.5 million Terrell Homes project, a partnership of the city Housing Finance Corp. and NRP Group of San Antonio. Mayor Betsy Price, state Sen. Wendy Davis and former Councilwoman Kathleen Hicks attended.

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Coalition on Homelessness: beyond protest

By Kevin Fagan       San Francisco Chronicle      December 15, 2012

A drop-in help center that handles 300 homeless people a day. Permanent homes for 1,300 more. Millions of dollars in shelter funding in San Francisco. A newspaper written and hawked by street people that has put $8 million cash into their hands.

None of this would have happened if a few activists hadn’t gotten together 25 years ago this month and formed San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness.

Most people know the coalition as the band of protesters who show up at Board of Supervisors meetings to rail against cuts to anti-poverty programs, or who rally against the roustings of homeless encampments.

But there is much more to the collection of poorly paid, mostly volunteer antipoverty activists.

Some of those who started out at the nonprofit’s cramped, messy office on Turk Street have gone on to form more than a dozen social justice programs, from the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, which battles sex trafficking, to the People Organized to Win Employment Rights, a welfare rights group based in San Francisco.

And though coalition workers usually delight in poking a finger in the eye of “the man,” several have burrowed into the establishment to promote change from the inside.

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