Bo’s clips: The news media is reporting fair housing stories for a change

Segregated housing remains in America well into the 21st Century despite Fair Housing Laws. The separation of people of color from whites carries negative impact on all aspects of quality of life. The discrimination is presently seen in Dallas where HUD has taken the city to task for concentrating affordable housing in the southern portion of the city.

On another front, behemoth banks continue to negotiate settlements with the Justice Department for sleazy mortgages issued during the housing boom.

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A Battle For Fair Housing Still Raging, But Mostly Forgotten

By Gene Demby       NPR       December 2, 2013

It’s not something we think about a lot or something that gets reported on often, but once you start digging around some, it’s hard not to see the consequences of our country’s long, sordid history of housing discrimination everywhere racial disparities manifest. The giant wealth gap between black and Latino Americans and white folks. Shorter life expectancies. Worse educational outcomes. Mass incarceration.

HYPERLINK “”Last week’s This American Life episode was entirely devoted to this topic, and it makes the relationship between housing discrimination and these other disparities jarringly clear.

“[On] every measure of well-being and opportunity, the foundation is where you live,” Nikole Hannah-Jones, the ProPublica reporter on whose reporting much of the episode was based, told TAL’s Nancy Updike. “Cancer rates, asthma rates, infant mortality, unemployment, education, access to fresh food, access to parks, whether or not the city repairs the roads in your neighborhood.”

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HUD: Dallas affordable-housing practices break civil rights laws

By Scott Goldstein       Dallas Morning News       December 3, 2013

Dallas officials promote discrimination against minorities and the disabled through affordable-housing practices that violate federal civil rights laws, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development investigation has found.

According to a 29-page letter outlining the initial findings, “the evidence shows that there was a pattern of negative reactions to projects that would provide affordable housing in the northern sector of Dallas and that those decisions were inconsistent with the goals required by HUD program obligations.”

City Council member Scott Griggs, vice chairman of the council housing committee, said the HUD letter confirms the long-standing image of Dallas as a city divided between a northern sector for better-off people who can pay market-rate rents and a southern sector for low-income people who need rent subsidies.

“It sets up that in southern Dallas, we’re going to continue to put low-income housing, but when you get to the north we’re going to use the money that should be used for low- and moderate-income housing but find a way to create market rate.”

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Bank of America to pay Freddie Mac $404M in mortgage settlement

Al Jazeera        December 2, 2013

Payout will settle all remaining repurchase liabilities on home loans between 2000 and 2009

Bank of America Corp will pay $404 million to Freddie Mac to resolve all repurchase liabilities on home loans sold to the government-controlled mortgage company from 2000 to 2009, the bank said Monday.

The settlement covers about 716,000 loans and compensates Freddie Mac for past losses and potential future losses related to denials, rescissions and cancellations of mortgage insurance, Freddie Mac said in a statement.

Bank of America will pay a net $391 million, reflecting a $13 million credit for prior repurchases and adjustments, Freddie Mac said.

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Cost Aside, JPMorgan May Have a Good Deal

By Peter Eavis       New York Times     November 28, 2013

JPMorgan Chase on Tuesday agreed to a mortgage settlement that will cost the bank $13 billion, a large number that will bolster the government’s claims that justice was done.

That $13 billion is a record for a single company and its sheer size notches an important victory for the government. Even so, a closer look at the troubled mortgages in the settlement suggests that JPMorgan may actually have secured HYPERLINK “”a good deal for itself.

The government’s legal onslaught centered on billions of dollars of subprime and Alt-A mortgages — loans that often required little documentation — that were made in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis. JPMorgan made some of the loans itself. The other loans were originated or sold into the markets by Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns, two firms that JPMorgan bought in 2008. JPMorgan assumed many of the firms’ future costs, including mortgage liabilities.

The Justice Department’s main allegation is that many of these loans should never have been packaged into the mortgage bonds that were sold to investors. The mortgages, the government contends, often fell short of the standards that JPMorgan and the other two firms legally agreed to when selling the bonds to investors.

“No firm, no matter how profitable, is above the law, and the passage of time is no shield from accountability,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said on Tuesday in a statement on the settlement.

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U.S. residential building permits reach 1 million, a 5-year high

By Ricardo Lopez        Los Angeles Times     November 26, 2013

The number of U.S. residential building permits issued in October surpassed 1 million, the highest level in five years, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday.

Building permits in October were up 6.2% from the month before, reaching 1,034,000, government figures show. That’s up 13.9% from October of last year.

Data for the number of housing starts were not included with the report due to the partial government shutdown last month. The release of those figures has now been pushed to Dec. 18.

Nonetheless, the building permits data are a good barometer of the overall state of residential construction, which has been strong over the past year.

Single-family home permits slowed to 620,000, the report said. Meanwhile, multi-family housing permits jumped 15.3% in October from the month before, reaching 414,000.

The housing recovery in recent months has boosted home prices, spurred new construction and generated consumer spending at hardware stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s.

But the pace appears to be slowing, economists said.

“This was a mixed report,” economists from IHS Global Insight wrote in a note. “Despite strong October numbers, a three-month moving average of both single- and multifamily permits shows that construction is slowing.”

However, Patrick Newport and Stephanie Karol, the IHS economists, said it’s unclear why housing permits have slowed recently. In a note, they said it’s possible that a lack of developed land to build on is delaying the housing recovery.

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Houston condos selling fast; growth seen in other major Texas cities

By Nancy Sarnoff       Houston Chronicle       December 2, 2013

Houston-area home buyers are snapping up condominiums and townhomes at a fast clip, depleting supply and forcing prices up, a new report shows.

Through September of this year, buyers closed on 5,067 condo and townhome properties in the greater Houston area. That’s up 25 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the 2013 Texas Condominium Sales Report released today by the Texas Association of Realtors. The full report is below.

The median price for a condo here was up 7 percent to $140,000 compared with last year. Listings were down 31 percent, and the average time it took to sell a condo during the time period fell 27 percent to 61 days.

The report shows double-digit growth in condo and townhome sales across all four major Texas markets.

“Given the rapid job and population growth across Texas’ major metro areas as well as our state’s shrinking housing inventory, it’s no surprise condo sales are playing an increasingly important role in the Texas housing market,” Shad Bogany, chairman of the state’s realty association, said in a statement.

Based on data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, the report analyzes 2013 year-to-date condo sales in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio through September 2013.

“Inventory is at an all-time low for both condominiums and single-family homes, but the development of new condos and townhomes has lagged behind that of single-family homes through the housing recovery. As a result, we’re at least a year or two away from delivering the condos that are currently needed in Texas’s metro areas,” Jim Gaines, economist with the Real Estate Center, said in the statement.

2013 Texas Condominium Sales Report_December 2013

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Interactive: Texas’ Homeless Population Declines

by Ryan Murphy and Corrie MacLaggan       Texas Tribune     November 27, 2013

Nearly 30,000 Texans were among more than 610,000 Americans who were homeless this year, according to a report released this month by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Texas was among the states with the largest decreases in the homeless population, according to the report. The state saw a 13 percent decrease since 2012 and a nearly 26 percent decrease since 2007. Still, Texas was one of five states that together accounted for more than half of the homeless people in the country. The others were California, New York, Florida and Massachusetts.

Nationally, homelessness has declined in recent years, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, which examined the homeless population on a single night in January 2013. About a quarter of the homeless people across the country were children. About 12 percent of homeless adults were veterans.

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