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Notorious landlord has another problem to explain

One of Boston’s most notorious landlords is housing international high school students in a building for which he does not have a proper license and whose facade Boston University considered structurally unsound when it sold the property to him in 2006.

Anwar N. Faisal, who largely caters to student tenants in Boston and was among the subjects of a Globe Spotlight Team investigation last month, has been operating a dormitory on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston with a license intended for the New England Institute of Art.

Read the full story from The Boston Globe here.

The Center for Investigative Reporting has uncovered more problems in Richmond, California's public housing system. Two maintenance workers, who also live in public housing, were found to have double-billed for tasks, billed for more hours than were worked and charged overtime during their regularly-scheduled shifts. Overtime paid to the two workers totaled more than $125,000 over four years.

All time sheets from the two workers were approved by the appropriate officials and it is still unclear if the two men were deliberately abusing the system. 

A Detroit News investigation found about 1 in 4 Detroit landlords paid to rent to poor families through the state’s Housing Choice Voucher program collectively owe the city at least $5 million in back taxes and probably much more. Federal and state guidelines for the rental assistance — known as Section 8 — don’t require that all landlords pay.

Read the entire story here.

Following a report by the Center for Investigative Reporting, the City Council of Richmond, Calif. voted to give residents of the Hacienda public housing complex vouchers to move into private housing. Tim Jones, executive director of the Richmond Housing Authority, called the bulding uninhabitable, and dozens of residents have complained of health problems due to mold.

Jones has blamed deteriorating conditions in public housing on the lack of federal funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city said it will ask HUD for voucher funding. But if the city can't get the money from HUD, it will pay to relocate Hacienda residents with money from its day-to-day budget. Relocation fees are estimated at more than $480,000.

Read the full story.

City officials are moving more than 400 children and their families out of two city-owned shelters in the wake of a New York Times series about homeless children.

“For nearly three decades, thousands of children passed through Auburn and Catherine Street, living with cockroaches, spoiled food, violence and insufficient heat, even as inspectors warned that the shelters were unfit for children,” the Times wrote today.

“State and city inspectors have cited Auburn for over 400 violations — many of them repeated — for a range of hazards, including vermin, mold, lead exposure, an inoperable fire safety system, insufficient child care and the presence of sexual predators, among them, a caseworker.”

Read more here.

"Following an uproar by residents and some members of Congress, the Department of Homeland Security has opened an investigation into whether $15 million in tax dollars to build housing for Border Patrol agents here was improperly spent," The Arizona Republic reports. Read the full story here.

Facing Foreclosure: Oklahoma's mortgage settlement program benefits attorneys | Tulsa World
"So far, the largest financial beneficiary of Oklahoma's mortgage settlement program is a young attorney who used a system of vouchers and possibly a family connection to acquire dozens of clients."

Shocking cost investigation: Utility middle men charge renters inflated prices | Columbus Dispatch
"A 10-month investigation by The Dispatch found that residents pay markups of 5 percent to 40 percent when their landlords enter into contracts with certain submeter companies. If the customer fails to pay, the companies sometimes resort to collection tactics that would be illegal for regulated utilities, including shutting off heat in winter and even eviction."

South Austin pastor lives lavishly while West Side project languishes | Chicago Tribune
“In a rolling investigation, Chicago Tribune reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx examine government's haphazard efforts to assist one of the city's hardest-hit neighborhoods. Tracing where the money goes, their latest installment how a politically-connected pastor lives in a lavish suburban mansion while some tenants in his apartment buildings endure substandard conditions and go without heat.”

New reports fuel debate of whether Lisa Steed arrested innocent drivers | Salt Lake Tribune
“This month, UHP provided The Tribune with more documents about Steed, including the Winward review and the internal affairs investigation undertaken before her firing last year. In the internal affairs investigation, UHP found prosecutors who had received complaints about the former trooper of the year, but some of those same prosecutors also praised Steed’s work.”

Facing lawsuits over deadly asbestos, paper giant launched secretive research program | The Center for Public Integrity
“Named in more than 60,000 legal claims, Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific sought salvation in a secret research program it launched in hopes of exonerating its product as a carcinogen, court records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show.”

Wisconsin Supreme Court justices tend to favor attorney donors | WisconsinWatch
“Justices have the option of recusing themselves from cases involving donor attorneys but have rarely stepped aside, remaining involved in nearly 98 percent of such cases, the Center found.”

Booming rental market makes it easier for neglectful landlords to ignore substandard living conditions | Austin American-Statesman
“A wide range of involved parties — City Council members, city Code Compliance officials, tenant advocates and real estate industry groups — agree that Austin’s real estate boom has made it possible for a subset of “bad actors” among rental property owners to ignore substandard conditions and tenants’ complaints. One indicator of the scope of the problem — code complaints and violations at rental properties — has exploded in recent years.”

$1,100 an hour? Part-time service at little agencies means big bucks and benefits for politicians | San Jose Mercury News
“Even the elected officials who benefit were surprised by the hefty hourly rates, which this newspaper calculated through an analysis of government meeting minutes and the Bay Area News Group's public salary database.”

Ivy Tech, DNR emails expose favors between officials, raunchy jokes, nude pictures | Indianapolis Star
“The emails — which featured jokes about erectile dysfunction and breast size, and pictures that compared naked women to various animals — appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Ivy Tech’s sexual harassment policy. Yet they were allowed to continue for at least six months before administrators asked Walkup to cease sometime this year.”

Research stalls on dangers of military burn pits | Democrat and Chronicle
“Thousands of returning veterans and civilians are now attributing myriad symptoms — respiratory problems, neurological disorders, cancers and ALS — to exposure to the burn pits, which were located at dozens of bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Dozens of Georgia children die despite state intervention | Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Epic failures by Georgia’s child welfare system have given the state one of the nation’s highest rates of death by abuse and neglect, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows.”

Ted Cruz Failed To Disclose Ties To Caribbean Holding Company | Time Swampland
“Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz potentially violated ethics rules by failing to publicly disclose his financial relationship with a Caribbean-based holding company during the 2012 campaign, a review of financial disclosure and company documents by TIME shows.”

GW misrepresented admissions and financial aid policy for years | The GW Hatchet
George Washington University admitted publicly for the first time Friday that it puts hundreds of undergraduate applicants on its waitlist each year because they cannot pay GW's tuition.

"A 10-month investigation by The Dispatch found that residents pay markups of 5 percent to 40 percent when their landlords enter into contracts with certain submeter companies. If the customer fails to pay, the companies sometimes resort to collection tactics that would be illegal for regulated utilities, including shutting off heat in winter and even eviction."

“In a rolling investigation, Chicago Tribune reporters David Jackson and Gary Marx examine government's haphazard efforts to assist one of the city's hardest-hit neighborhoods. Tracing where the money goes, their latest installment how a politically-connected pastor lives in a lavish suburban mansion while some tenants in his apartment buildings endure substandard conditions and go without heat.”

“A wide range of involved parties — City Council members, city Code Compliance officials, tenant advocates and real estate industry groups — agree that Austin’s real estate boom has made it possible for a subset of “bad actors” among rental property owners to ignore substandard conditions and tenants’ complaints. One indicator of the scope of the problem — code complaints and violations at rental properties — has exploded in recent years.”

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