Category: Banking


Santa Rosa approves $ 38 million loans for affordable housing


The Santa Rosa Housing Authority has approved the use of approximately $ 38 million in federal disaster relief funds to build hundreds of new affordable homes over the next few years.

On Monday afternoon, a shorthanded housing authority voted the loan of $ 38,353,107 to developers of five projects in Santa Rosa that initially offer the pledge of 377 combined units, almost all of which are reserved for low-income residents.

The top prize, notable both for its circumstances and for its size, went to the first phase of the 3575 Mendocino Avenue project, which, when fully constructed, provides for 532 homes on the site of the former Journey’s mobile home park. End. Linda Adrian, a former park resident and staunch supporter of the redevelopment effort, praised the $ 11.9 million price tag for the project, which would create 370 apartments at market rates as well as 162 units in an affordable development to replace the 160 Journey’s End homes, most of which were destroyed in the Tubbs fire in 2017.

“At the moment, I still live in a temporary apartment of only 320 square feet, and I was waiting for this – for Journey’s End to be rebuilt so that I can go back there,” said Adrian, who had lived at the park for 25 years.

The funds represent a bittersweet boon to a city in desperate need of additional affordable housing. While the money offers a rare chance to spur several large projects simultaneously, Santa Rosa would not have had access to the funds had it not been for the massive Tubbs fire disaster.

The city received money last year through state officials from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development because of the damage inflicted on Santa Rosa by the Tubbs fire, which exacerbated the current shortage of affordable housing by destroying more than 3,000 homes across the city. The city officially opened the fundraising process in November, less than a month after reaching an agreement with state officials to release the money.

The city received 17 applications, four of which were deemed incomplete. Two were subsequently withdrawn. The remaining 11 claims, representing claims of around $ 80.3 million – more than double what the city had to offer – were reviewed by a panel of two Housing Authority members, Vice President Diane Test. and Commissioner Steve Burke, and two members of the town. Council, John Sawyer and Tom Schwedhelm, guided by city staff.

Their unanimous recommendations went in support of five projects, three of which are supported at least in part by Burbank Housing, the affordable housing developer based in Santa Rosa. According to city documents, the projects, along with their loan amounts, total costs, number of units and estimated month of construction completion, are:

  • The first phase of 3575 avenue Mendocino; Loan of $ 11.9 million; Development cost of $ 56.7 million; 94 units; March 2023.
  • The Railroad Square Cannery; $ 10.3 million; $ 86.8 million in development costs; 129 units; June 2023.
  • The first phase of Caritas Homes; Loan of $ 8.9 million; Development cost of $ 39.8 million; 64 units; December 2022.
  • Burbank Avenue Apartments; $ 5 million loan; Development cost of $ 38 million; 64 units; July 2023.
  • Senior Linda Tunis Apartments; Loan of $ 2.1 million; A development cost of 9.4 million dollars; 26 units; March 2022.

The loans include affordability guarantees for 55 years from the date of original occupancy and annual interest rates of 3% deferred for the same term, according to city documents.

Burbank Housing is a development partner in the 3575 Mendocino, Caritas Homes and Burbank Avenue Apartments projects. The Cannery Project was presented by the John Stewart Company, and the Linda Tunis Project – named after a former Journey’s End resident who perished in the Tubbs fire – is supported by Petaluma Ecumenical Properties, or PEP Housing.

“This is actually a major step forward in reducing the housing units that are needed and in demand, especially affordable units, for the city of Santa Rosa,” said Efren Carrillo, director of housing development and development. government affairs for Burbank Housing.

The two non-Burbank housing projects have both agreed to reduce the amount of loans they requested from the Housing Authority, according to city staff. There was no indication that the three Burbank Housing projects had to do this.

The Housing Authority usually has seven members, including two tenants’ commissioners. However, at its Monday meeting, the administration did not have the two tenant positions, two of its current five commissioners were serving expired terms and one had to recuse himself to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

All units except one for each project, for a total of 372 units, are limited to some extent to income. The other five units are unrestricted and are intended to accommodate on-site project managers.

The pre-award review took into account the projects’ ability to obtain planning approval and other committed funding sources, conduct environmental reviews, total costs per unit, and start dates and construction completion, said Nicole Rathbun, the city’s housing program specialist.

“We really focused on preparing for the project and we wanted to get these units into the community as quickly as possible,” Rathbun said.

You can contact editor Will Schmitt at 707-521-5207 or [email protected] On Twitter @wsreports.

Editor’s Note: Efren Carrillo was misidentified in an earlier version of this article.

Illinois AG, member of a coalition calling for more aid for student borrowers


CHICAGO (WREX) – A group of attorneys general across the country, including Illinois, is calling on the federal government to provide more relief to student borrowers.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul, as part of a coalition of 23 attorneys general, today wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel Cardona urging him to adopt reforms to facilitate the process of education. repaying student loans and preventing student borrowers from repaying their debts. for-profit and missing colleges.

In the letterRaoul and Attorneys General are urging Secretary Cardona to consider several actions that could help student borrowers, including:

  • Continue the policy of suspending student loan payments and waiving interest for as long as necessary to support distressed borrowers.
  • Continue the policy of suspending involuntary collection activities and allowing suspended payments to count for both utility loan forgiveness and income repayment scheme (IDR) remission.
  • Enact reforms to allow student loan borrowers to access and stay in the IDR plans to which they are entitled, allowing borrowers to have more affordable monthly payments, avoid the severe consequences of default and to obtain the cancellation of the loan if necessary.
  • Enforcement of the higher education law’s paid employment requirement, which would protect borrowers from for-profit programs that do not prepare students for a career.

“For millions of student loan borrowers, the struggle to repay loans has been exacerbated by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and these borrowers need relief,” said Raoul. “I encourage the US Department of Education to support borrowers by enacting reforms that will help them repay their loans and avoid defaults.”

Attorney General Raoul is also working with Illinois lawmakers to pass legislation to protect student borrowers and those considering taking out student loans.

Raoul Know Before You Owe’s legislation was passed by an Illinois House of Representatives committee earlier this month and will ensure student borrowers have information about their eligibility for federal aid before they go. turn to more expensive private loans.

The measure is also pending in the Illinois Senate.

Additionally, an Illinois House committee recently passed Raoul’s legislation to protect student borrowers from student debt relief companies, or SLDRs.

SLDRs often prey on student loan borrowers by charging high fees for services they cannot provide, such as loan forgiveness and cancellation. Borrowers can apply for these benefits free of charge from the federal government or their loan manager.

Student borrowers who have questions or need assistance can call the Attorney General’s Student Loans Helpline at 1-800-455-2456. Borrowers can also file complaints on Attorney General’s website.

Attorneys General of California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey , New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Oregon join Raoul. , Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

You can read the full letter below.

Mars_2021_AGs_Policy_Letter_to_Sec_Cardona

Halloween party causes COVID ‘cluster’ at Westwood High School, prompting district to switch to distance learning


Westwood school officials cited an unmasked indoor Halloween party as the source of a high school COVID-19 cluster that caused at least five positive cases of the coronavirus.

Westwood Superintendent Emily Parks and Westwood High School Principal Amy Davenport said on Sunday that Westwood’s Director of Public Health, the school doctor and the COVID-19 medical advisory team recommended to unanimity that the high school is switching to distance education this week as a result of the cluster. .

Two positive tests of first-year high school students on Sunday prompted school officials to move. The two new cases bring the total to five last week in high school.

School officials said the switch to distance learning would give them time to complete contact tracing, receive close contact test results and “hopefully shut down the cluster.”

On Sunday, contact tracers at Westwood identified around 20 students considered close contacts of those who tested positive. They will be quarantined for at least 14 days.

School officials said during the contact tracing, “There were inconsistencies in reporting and varying levels of cooperation with the contact tracing process.

“We strongly recommend that parents have frank and honest conversations with their children about their social behavior over the past week, including attending indoor gatherings and socializing without following other measures. required safety, such as wearing masks, ”a letter to families from Westwood High School said. “If you have reason to believe your child has engaged in these behaviors, our Westwood Public Health Director recommends that you contact your child’s doctor and get them tested for COVID-19.”

The district contacted DESE for support from the state mobile testing unit. School officials said the unit may be able to provide free tests to a limited number of students and staff this week.

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Coronavirus shuts down small businesses, say Yelp and Womply


For seven years, Maxine Sheaffer owned an art studio in Philadelphia Manayunk Section, where budding painters went to take courses and workshops. Her studio, Art on Main, was a gathering place to explore creativity, said Sheaffer, 39, who ran the business with her husband and a part-time worker.

Sheaffer’s studio closed in mid-March after Governor Tom Wolf ordered temporary shutdowns of businesses deemed non-essential because the spread of wildfire-like COVID-19 made gatherings unsafe. Sheaffer lost his clients and couldn’t earn enough on art commissions to pay the bills. She made the difficult choice in May to shut down Art on Main forever.

“It was very difficult,” said Sheaffer. “All you can do is hope that in the future this is not going to continue.”

Sheaffer’s studio is among thousands of small stores, salons, studios and restaurants that could not survive the pandemic. In the Philadelphia area, at least 252 businesses closed permanently between March 1 and July 10, according to Yelp, the business listing and rating website. This tally is almost certainly an undercount, as it only includes businesses that have reported their closures on Yelp.

More small businesses are expected to go bankrupt after resisting the first five months of the pandemic, said the experts. Running a small business is tough enough in the good times, but now they are navigating government restrictions, cautious consumers, and widespread remote working that has reduced foot traffic in the city center, experts have said.

“LEARN MORE: What happens to the attractiveness of the neighborhood if the coronavirus permanently shuts down small businesses?

The widespread loss of so many small businesses is not only a concern for individual owners, but will also slow a broader recovery, said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economics, a Bucks County consultancy firm. “It will contribute to the problems of trying to grow the economy at a rapid rate, because it will increase the unemployment rate.”

Small businesses collectively employ nearly half of all private sector workers nationwide and account for 44% of economic output, according to the Small Business Administration. In 2017, a large majority of businesses in the Philadelphia area were classified as small, with 99.7% employing fewer than 500 people, while 53.7% employed fewer than five people, according to the Greater Philadelphia Economic League.

Jennifer Kinka saw her staff grow from 21 to seven after closing two of the three storefronts at Nesting House, a retail business she started in 2010 to offer cloth diapers, wooden toys and baby clothes. other durable childcare items for new parents. Although the company has an online presence, most sales are done in-store and foot traffic was suddenly only a fraction of what it was before the pandemic, she said. Kinka made the difficult choice to shut down its South and West Philly locations in mid-May, leaving only one Mount Airy store.

“I woke up with a stomach ache when I realized I was going to have to remove them from the communities,” she said. “There were many, many people relying on them, but our hands were tied.”

“LEARN MORE: Coronavirus forces small businesses to shut down permanently: ‘There is nothing we can do’

It is impossible to get a definitive tally of local businesses that closed during the pandemic. Representatives of state and city government agencies, chambers of commerce and local trade associations said no agency or group was keeping the numbers.

And any count of failed businesses will likely be missing from those operated only by owners. Consultants, independent contractors and “solopreneurs” – who run stores themselves – are often not considered small businesses because they have no employees, said Maura Shenker, director of the Small Business Development Center. of Temple. In addition, there is an informal economy of businesses that operate without a license, such as those that lack their owners, she said.

Yet some companies have tried to quantify the damage. Including the temporary closures, there were 2,053 businesses in the Philadelphia metro area that were still closed as of July 10, Yelp said. Yelp declined to share the total number of Philadelphia-area businesses in its database.

The number of small businesses opened in the Philadelphia metropolitan area fell 15% between January and July 24, according to data from San Francisco software company Womply, released by Opportunity Insights, a Harvard-backed research group.

Womply has tracked the transactions of just under 9,000 businesses in the Philadelphia area and counts the businesses as closed if they haven’t seen a debit or credit card transaction for at least three consecutive days. The 15% drop represents about 1,350 businesses in the Philadelphia area that have remained closed since January.

The leisure and hospitality industry has been hit hardest, with the number of businesses opening in this sector falling by almost 21%. Education and health services activities have fallen 33% since January.

Retailing and restaurants were the worst during the pandemic, according to national data from Yelp. Between March 1 and June 15, more than 27,600 retail stores closed temporarily or permanently, followed by nearly 24,000 restaurants. About 20% of all closures were retail, and 35% of them are permanent, Yelp said.

Small businesses face the additional challenge of having fewer resources than large businesses. Small businesses often carry enough cash to last a month and don’t have as much access to credit or loans as large businesses, Temple’s Shenker said.

Government grants and loans – like the federal paycheck protection program – have kept many small businesses afloat. Over five million PPP loans totaling over $ 521 billion have been approved as of July 31, according to the SBA. But once that money is used up, more small businesses will close, said Naroff, the Bucks County economist.

“LEARN MORE: Small minority-owned businesses have largely been excluded from Pennsylvania’s first coronavirus loan program

Not everyone has the same access to these vital loans, some advocates have said. Jennifer Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, has worked with companies that have struggled to apply for loans or grants and struggled to transition to virtual platforms. Rodriguez notes that low- and middle-income communities “are not turning to technology and online shopping at the same rate as better-off communities.” This means that their business models still have a strong need for in-person interaction.

She is also concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the local hospitality industry. “The Latino is the backbone of this industry, with both workers and owners,” she said. “For our community, it would be really, really devastating to see these businesses fail.”

National data from Yelp shows the biggest peaks in permanent closings were in March, followed by May and June. This suggests that businesses that were already struggling to shut down right away, and then businesses that tried to hang on, have been forced to shut down in recent months, Yelp said in a recent report.

Shelley Marine and Karen Cooke are affectionately known to their clients as the Shiva Ladies. They own In Time of Need, a two-person business that helps plan shivas, funerals, and memorial services in the Philadelphia area.

Marine said they were getting two or three calls a week before the pandemic, but their phones stopped ringing once restrictions were placed on large gatherings. They have been out of work since March 11.

In Time of Need has been in business since 2010, but Marine isn’t sure how long it can last. What bothers Marine the most is not the potential loss of the business, but the inability to help the community.

“This is the time when everyone needs it, and there is nothing we can do about it,” she said.

Eden and Cypress secure a construction loan for the Tamarac multifamily


Eden Multifamily leads Jay Massirman and Jay Jacobson with Michael Sorochinsky, CEO of Cypress Equity Investments (courtesy of MSA Architects)

Eden Multifamily and Cypress Equity Investments have started building a Tamarac multi-family complex, having secured a $ 23.7 million construction loan and a $ 8.6 million preferred stock investment.

The joint venture, which works as CE Development Partners, is developing the 212 Eden West units at the northeast corner of West McNab and North Pine Island roads. The garden-style project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2022.

Wells Fargo issued the senior construction loan and Chevy Chase, a Maryland-based private real estate investor, FCP, provided $ 8.6 million in preferred stock, according to press releases.

Property records show that Eden Multifamily-related CE Tamarac purchased the 6.2 acres at 8501-8795 West McNab Road in September 2019 for $ 3.4 million.

Coconut Grove-based Eden Multifamily led by Jay Massirman and Jay Jacobson in November 2018 offers replacing the existing Colony West Shopping Plaza with an apartment complex. The previous owner had already demolished part of the mall.

Eden Multifamily, founded in 2015, is a residential developer and investor that has built more than 24,000 units and, through a subsidiary, manages nearly 25,000 units in six states, according to the release.

Los Angeles-based Cypress Equity, led by founder Michael Sorochinsky, is a commercial real estate investor that focuses on multi-family, according to its website. Since its creation in 2001, it has developed or invested in more than 12,000 units nationwide.

Eden West will have two four-story buildings offering studios and one- to three-bedroom apartments, ranging from 598 square feet to 1,388 square feet, the statement said. Units will have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, washers and dryers, white quartz countertops in kitchens and bedrooms, and wood plank floors in kitchens and living rooms.

Community facilities will include a 24-hour gym that will show exercise videos, a saltwater swimming pool and a veranda with an outdoor kitchen and grills.

Also in Tamarac, Plans of the houses on the 13th floor 397 detached houses on both Woodlands Country Club golf courses at 4600 Woodland Hills Boulevard.

Financing for multi-family construction has increased slightly. Last week Terra and New Valley scored a $ 64.8 million ready for 460 Natura Gardens units in northwest Miami-Dade County; and affiliate development grabbed a $ 34.1 million loan for her mixed-income 200-unit bohemian in Lake Worth Beach.

Ohio man arrested after threatening to burn down Michigan elementary school, police say


PORT HURON, MI – An Ohio man was arrested after allegedly threatening to burn down an elementary school in Port Huron.

Dominik Hricovsky, 32, of Ohio, was arraigned Sunday February 28 for threat of terrorism, use of a firearm in or in a building, two counts of firearm, felon in possession of ‘a gun, resistance and obstruction and repeat offender. notice of fourth offense.

Cleveland Elementary School in Port Huron was put under lockdown on the morning of Wednesday, February 24, after police received several calls from a man threatening to burn down the school.

About an hour after the school was closed, police discovered it was Hricovsky who had called from the 2700 block of Nern Street. When officers attempted to place him under arrest, Hricovsky attempted to flee and fight the officers, police said.

Officers deployed a Taser and took him into custody. During Friday’s investigation, detectives learned that Hricovsky also shot through the apartment window, police said.

Lockdown on Cleveland Elementary School ended after Hricovsky’s arrest.

Hricovsky received a bond of $ 250,000. The date for its probable causes conference is set for Tuesday, March 9, with a preliminary review scheduled for Tuesday, March 16. He is also on parole in Ohio.

Anyone with information on the situation is asked to call CAPTURE at 810-987-6688. Anonymous advice can be provided by texting CAPTURE and a tip to 847411 or downloading the Port Huron PD app. Advice can also be emailed to www.porthuronpolice.org.

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Discrimination revealed by brilliant black artist from Alabama


ComebackTown is published by David Sher for Greater Birmingham and More Prosperous Alabama

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Today’s guest columnist is Bill Ivey.

Have you ever heard of Birmingham artist Celestia Anne (Cookie) Morgan? I didn’t until a friend insisted that I look at his “REDLINE” exhibit at the Birmingham Museum of Art. And I certainly didn’t know anything about the practice of redlining.

Morgan is a rising superstar artist. Born in Ensley in 1981, she graduated from Jackson-Olin High School. Morgan believes she inherited her love for photography from her father, who died in 2005.

“When my dad passed away we were looking for footage of him and we realized he was the guy behind the camera,” Morgan said. “He would give me one of his old cameras and I would go around and start photographing.” She gained additional experience with a 35mm camera while participating in the Jackson-Olin Junior ROTC program.

Celestia Morgan graduated from Lawson State Community College in 2004 and in 2012 received a BFA from UAB. In 2017, she graduated from the University of Alabama with an MA in Fine Arts / Photography.

She currently holds two positions: she is a professor of visual arts in Birmingham city schools and an assistant professor of photography at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. Celestia is married with two children and lives in Birmingham.

When Morgan started taking pictures of Birmingham neighborhoods, she didn’t want to make a political statement. It was personal.

“The first intention was not to create art on redlining,” she explained. “It was for me to explore why my family only lived in a certain part of Birmingham. And I wanted to capture memories for my family, take pictures of the houses my grandmother lived in or my aunts and uncles lived in.

But as Morgan saw both dignity and decay in the neighborhoods she photographed, she began to think bigger.

Birmingham teacher, mom and artist Celestia Morgan asks how her art can help others.

“How can my story help someone else?” she started to wonder. “How can I connect it to something bigger than what I am?”

REDLINE is brilliant, timely and prophetic.

In the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration created a systematic coding system to deny mortgages to potential homeowners on the basis of race, religion, and immigration status. The term “redlining” arose from the practice of banks and government officials drawing red lines on housing maps. Red lines denoted, for example, African American or Latin American neighborhoods and designated them as “undesirable” for investment. Blacks, Latinos, Jews and other minority residents have been disproportionately affected.

Redlining has denied a wide range of services (financial and other) for residents of certain areas: a systematic denial of mortgages, insurance, loans, and other financial services based on certain neighborhood demographics rather than on the qualifications and creditworthiness of an individual. And Redlining, of course, was a perfect addition to the Jim Crow system in the South. (An important point here, however, is that the Deep South states were only part of a national caste system. Systemic racism is not confined to our region.)

Residents of Redlined communities were denied the opportunity to build wealth – and were destined to live and raise families in troubled neighborhoods. Unfortunately, other services such as healthcare or even supermarkets have been denied to residents of Redlined neighborhoods. And, as is often the case, Redlining’s policy disproportionately affects residents of minority neighborhoods.

Morgan was raised and currently lives in the areas of Birmingham that were once Redlined. His REDLINE exhibition brilliantly shows and highlights the terrible consequences of this system.

The passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 hypothetically banned Redlining, but the law was, for the most part, a failure. The discriminatory system was so entrenched across the country that challenges in federal courts continued into the 21st century. A government audit in 2010 found that HUD law enforcement was largely ineffective. Within the city limits of Birmingham, for example, there are still thousands of abandoned and dilapidated houses.

It is clear that the effects of Redlining continue to negatively affect the racial income and wealth gap in the U.S. We know that homeownership is generally a way to build wealth, but neighborhoods within low income stay pretty much the same after all these years.

In 2015, the Obama administration bolstered the original Fair Housing Act by asking local governments to follow patterns of poverty and segregation with a 92-question checklist in order to access federal funds for housing. However, the current administration is currently trying to roll back those efforts, which could make it easier for banks to deny loans to blacks and Hispanics or for cities to confine poor families to minority neighborhoods.

From The New York Times (1/7/20): “President Trump has targeted an Obama-era program to eliminate racial disparities in suburban housing, a step that policy supporters see it as an attempt to consolidate its sagging support for white suburban voters by stoking racial divide.

In a recent Twitter message, Mr Trump announced that he was considering eliminating a 2015 initiative known as “ Affirmative Support Fair Housing, ” which requires localities to identify and tackle patterns. of racial segregation prohibited under the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by creating plans. “

A second component of Morgan’s REDLINE exhibit is his Sky Maps series, which superimposes the outlines of once-highlighted neighborhoods (on the 1933 Home Owners’ Loan Corporation map) on beautiful blue skies and cumulus clouds. There is a sad tone in everyone, as if these neighborhoods are deemed “unworthy”. However, Sky Map’s beautiful backgrounds convey a sense of hope – as if all is not lost. That if we just pay attention, we can find beauty and value in each of these places – and their potential is endless. Morgan: “The sky is the limit.”

A third element of Morgan’s exhibit focuses on Interstate 20/59. The highway, built in the early 1970s, divided black neighborhoods in half and separated them from downtown and predominantly white neighborhoods. The placement of the interstate displaced many residents in its path and caused property values ​​to plummet.

Hallie Ringle, Curator of Contemporary Art Hugh Kaul of the Birmingham Museum of Art, was instrumental in bringing REDLINE to the museum. “I’ve wanted to work with Celestia for a while,” Ringle said. “She is an incredible artist and her work is truly visionary. She is from Birmingham and works in Birmingham and the museum has really focused on researching topics that are important to the city as a whole.

“All areas of Birmingham have been affected in redlining, but I think maybe not everyone knows why 20/59 is going through Birmingham the way it does, ”said Ringle. “It was very intentionally planned to prevent access, to drop the value of properties in the black quarters of Birmingham. So, it seemed like the right time to strike up that conversation when this build takes place in the backyard of the museum.

In the “reconstruction” of I-20/59, Morgan finds a metaphor. “It’s in the same place. We repeat the same. We’re modernizing it a bit, but we’re actually doing the same thing, ”Morgan said. “We are no longer using the card; however, we continue to move forward and operate on this path that has been laid out for us. “

The final piece in Morgan’s REDLINE exhibit includes several of his photographs of ‘dilapidated’ houses in the destroyed neighborhoods of Birmingham. We can see how Redlining has affected communities and families. From the caption of the exhibition: “Morgan’s photographs of houses in Birmingham show the impact of redlining and its continuing effects on the people living in these areas. … The houses bear witness to the physical, emotional and environmental image of redlining. “

When seen alongside his photographs of I-20/59, Morgan’s house photographs illustrate that Redlining, primarily through town planning, continues. Although the highway has been raised a bit, it still divides the poor and black neighborhoods into two.

Thanks to my friend Andrea Whitehead, a docent at the Birmingham Museum of Art, I was able to attend a seminar led by Joyce Benington. She is a 23 year veteran of the Museum and is incredibly appreciative of Morgan’s work. In fact, the Birmingham Museum of Art bought the REDLINE exhibit.

Ms Benington invited Dr Max Michael, former dean of the UAB School of Public Health, to participate in the presentation. Here is a summary of what Dr Michael said:

  • There are 99 neighborhoods in Birmingham, which include over 16,000 abandoned properties (many of which are the result of Redlining).
  • The health indices in these neighborhoods are terrible.
  • Growing up in the burn has a biological impact. Our environment can modify our genome for at least 3 generations. (Italics added)
  • The citizens of these neighborhoods have higher levels of cortisol (the “stress” hormone). The debilitating symptoms of high cortisol levels are too numerous to list here.

Highway:

  • Separate poor neighborhoods.
  • Ended all pedestrian traffic to the city center (like large walls).
  • Created unsanitary conditions for these neighborhoods, including:
    • The lingering effects of lead gas residues
    • Hypertension
    • Chronic kidney disease

There is a prophetic quality of the Old Testament in Morgan’s work. These prophets are best known for predicting the future, but their most important function was to speak for God and “call” the Israelites at critical times. (“Although the Lord sent prophets to the people to bring them back to him, and although they testified against them, they would not listen.” II Chronicles 24:19, version NIV) and, just like we Israelites really didn’t ‘I don’t want to listen to them!

REDLINE is timely because Morgan uses it to provide insight into one facet of a racist system designed to keep certain non-traditional groups “in their place”. She is a 21st century prophet. They are everywhere and, painful as it may be, we must seek them out and listen to them. Do we really believe that all human beings are created equal?

Check out this PBS video: The Work of Celestia Morgan, in her own words.

Bill Ivey is a retired trainer and professor of history / government / economics who holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alabama and a Masters of History from UAB. He recently closed his Birmingham Basketball Academy (due to the pandemic) and is now fully retired after 45 years of working with young people. He and his wife Cathy founded the Carolyn Pitts Class for Social Justice (Sunday School) at the downtown First United Methodist Church, which has continued to meet virtually since March.

Choose the right CD term to maximize your savings


If you have some cash that you would like to put to work and are ready to do so by purchasing a Certificate of Deposit (CD) – congratulations! We love when people use their money wisely and profitably.

Selecting a CD as a return-generating investment, however, is only the first step. You also need to decide on a CD term. Whether you consider short-term and long-term CD options depends on your specific needs. It also depends on how long you are willing to lock in your money. CD durations can last from one month to five years and beyond. The right one for you might not be the one with the best CD rates.

Read on to learn some CD basics to weigh the benefits of a CD in the short term versus the long term.

What is a short term CD?

CD durations tend to vary from three months to five years, although there are increasingly longer durations on either side of this duration. That is why it is a good idea to check out both short term and long term CD options.

A short term CD has a duration of three to 12 months. Shorter CD terms generally offer a lower interest rate due to the short term commitment.

What is a long term CD?

A long-term CD is on the opposite side of the spectrum from its short-term sibling. Although some issuers have different criteria for what constitutes a “long term,” the generally accepted term range for this category is four years or more.

How do CDs work?

A CD is a deposit account offered by banks and other financial institutions. CDs have always been a popular savings option because they offer guaranteed returns.

Standard CDs pay a fixed annual rate of return (APY) when they mature – as long as you keep the money in the account and don’t withdraw funds. If you do, you will be hit with an expensive early withdrawal penalty. These penalties can sometimes exceed the return you would have earned if you had kept that money in the account.

Over the years, variations on the traditional CD have hit the market. “Bump-up” and “step-up” CDs offer holders the opportunity to get an increase in APY if interest rates go in the right direction. In addition to these features, they are more or less standard CDs.

Several vendors offer CDs that offer withdrawal options without penalty. These usually have lower APYs than regular CDs because of this.

For the most part, however, investing in a CD is a commitment of funds. In return for keeping your funds locked up, a financial institution usually offers higher APYs than other savings products. These include offers like a savings account or a money market account, which allow a certain degree of transfer and withdrawal of funds without penalty.

A CD is considered one of the safest financial instruments for determined savers. Plus, like other bank accounts, most CDs are fully covered by the government’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Up to $ 250,000 per person per account is automatically covered by this coverage.

Why are CD APYs higher than other deposit accounts?

APY CDs are higher because you agree to deposit your funds and not touch them for a specific time. This allows the banks to use that money for a predictable amount of time. Early withdrawal penalties are a great discouragement for withdrawing money from a CD, so the money tends to stay where it is. In general, the more stable and predictable a set of funds, the higher the price an investor is willing to pay.

Following the same principle, the longer a bank can use this money, the more it is willing to pay. This is why APY CDs tend to increase with the length of terms. Keep this in mind when looking at short term or long term CD accounts.

Here’s an illustration of short-term and long-term CD rates, with a sample of fairly typical recent YPAs:

Taxpayers should know more about the UK venture capital frenzy


The lack of private funding for start-ups and high-growth companies has long been a source of concern in this country.

Well, rejoice. It turns out that the UK has the largest venture capital fund in Europe. And it’s run by none other than the government.

It is strange that the emergence of Her Majesty’s Treasury as venture capitalist didn’t prompt more questions, especially when we know so little about where he put our money.

The Future Fund, managed by the British Business Bank, amassed £ 1.2 billion into convertible loans to innovative companies.

It may seem like a small change from the billions distributed in various Covid-19 support packages. At some point, however, Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to tell us more about what’s going on in his mega-fund.

Launched in April Last year, the fund was an attempt to shut down a large number of start-ups and start-ups as other sources of funding dried up. Originally limited to £ 250million in public money, it was quickly expanded.

While the BBB, through its trading arm, previously invested money in venture capital funds as an investor, this time it went straight.

Government loans of between £ 125,000 and £ 5 million had to be financed by private investors, outsourcing part of the verification work. The companies had to raise funds from third party investors, which suggests a bottom line. And it used familiar structures and models, allowing for rapid deployment.

The end result was an absolutely huge fund. Europe’s largest venture capital funds raised around $ 800 million last year, according to Sifted, less than half of the government effort. A typical venture capital fund can hold investments in between 10 and 40 companies. The Future Fund has 1,236.

One question in the industry is how the British Business Bank intends to handle this and whether it has the resources it needs. She says she “recruits to expand her capacity as needed” and benefits from the expertise of her private sector co-investors.

A more pressing question from a taxpayer perspective is what is really in the fund? So far, disclosure has been minimal, which in itself leads to skeptical rhetoric about the quality of the portfolio the government has in its hands. The expression “adverse selection” comes up several times in conversations on this subject.

The BBB gave a regional breakdown and information on the gender and ethnicity of the executive teams.

But there is nothing on the amount of loans granted, which could give an indication of the maturity of the companies. There is nothing on the sectors or activities of the beneficiaries; nothing about the duration of their activities or the amount of private funds they had previously collected.

The BBB cites “commercial confidentiality” so as not to disclose the names, even of the 52 companies in which the government is now a shareholder. But if leave seekers are published, it’s unclear why these recipients of government funds shouldn’t be. Some become public, in all cases, through deposits with Companies House.

Given the concerns about quality, the government may want to get ahead of the fact that the investments here will be, say, blended. The Future Fund may not be a classic venture capital model, where outrageous success compensates for a high overall failure rate. But there will inevitably be radiation to come.

The government seems to have a strong taste for VC life. The Future Fund Breakthrough, announced in this month’s budget, is the next variation, albeit focused on selecting larger tech companies to support. And there are rumors that – after shaking up the UK’s industrial strategy – the government instead prefers an “innovation growth policy”.

Taxpayers may wonder why a government that was reluctant to take stakes in large, besieged companies during this crisis is so comfortable getting out of it with stakes in a wide range smaller ones, especially in such a hot VC market that some wonder if such a big bailout was really needed in the first place.

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UK Treasury takes stake in hipster label


The Treasury became a shareholder in a vinyl-run hipster record company as part of a coronavirus support program for innovative, fast-growing companies.

London-based Gearbox Records, specializing in new jazz, folk and electronic music, is the latest company to count the UK taxpayer as an investor after taking out convertible loans from the Future Fund.

The unusual venture capital-like structure of the support scheme is expected to leave the UK state with hundreds of holdings in a wide variety of companies.

More than 1,100 companies have received £ 1.1 billion in loans convertible into equity from the Future Fund, which was launched in May last year to support ‘innovative’ but loss-making companies unable to obtain funds elsewhere due to the pandemic.

The Treasury also took a stake in Vaccitech, one of the UK’s top-rated pharmaceutical start-ups, according to people familiar with the situation.

The Oxford start-up owns the biotech platform used for the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and is considering an IPO in the coming months.

Vaccitech, one of the co-founders of which led the development of the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine, raised $ 168 million earlier this month, valuing the startup at around $ 425 million. Vaccitech declined to comment.

More than fifty companies have had their loans converted to equity, according to people familiar with the situation, ranging from a Cornish broadband provider to a maker low-flow toilets based in Essex.

Darrel Sheinman says Gearbox Records met the requirements of the Future Fund as a fast growing start-up that had raised equity from investors to finance its expansion © Gabriel Bertogg

The identity of the companies is not disclosed by the British Business Bank, which administers the program. He faced repeated calls for more transparency which groups have received government-backed emergency coronavirus loans.

Gearbox Records, the King’s Cross-based label and studio, raised £ 500,000 in December, half of which came from the conversion of its Future Fund loan. The government owns about 4%. 100 of the company.

Gearbox Records founder Darrel Sheinman said he applied to the Future Fund as a “long shot” when the pandemic hit in case he needed the extra cash after record stores were shut down. forced to close.

He said the company meets requirements as a fast-growing start-up that has raised equity from investors to fund its expansion. He added that technology played an important role in the business given the digital sales of his catalog and the invention of a record player with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. He also runs a studio, where artists from the Prodigy to Moses Boyd have recorded and mastered records.

Sheinman said the experience of working with the Future Fund initially seemed bureaucratic, adding: “Now that they are shareholders, we received a note explaining that they were delighted to be, and gave me additional instructions on how to keep them up to date with the news. through their portal. As a record company, the type of news we send out doesn’t necessarily match the portal. ”

The British Business Bank said the Future Fund has a team of seasoned investment professionals, but is recruiting to expand its capacity as needed. “Although the portfolio is large in terms of number of companies, Future Fund’s stake in each of the companies that converted into shares is relatively small.”

The Future Fund, which has provided loans ranging from £ 125,000 to £ 5 million subject to at least equal funding from private investors, closed in January.

According to data provider Equity Crowd Expert, seven companies supported by the program, which have also raised money through crowdfunding schemes, have so far converted loans into equity. These include Gearbox Records, electric motor systems group Aeristech, broadband provider Wildanet and toilet maker Propelair.

Tech executives wondered why the Future Fund was necessary given the huge sums already available from venture capital funds looking for fast-growing companies.

But since the closure of the Future Fund, the government has launched a £ 375million second-stage Future Fund Breakthrough program that will increase stakes in promising tech and life science companies.

“The Future Fund supports high growth UK companies to stimulate private investment and support jobs and growth,” the government said in a statement.