Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "housing" ...

  • Living Apart: Fair Housing in America

    The series documents 45 years of neglect of one of the most sweeping civil rights laws in our country’s history. The investigation found that the federal government made a decision almost immediately after the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act not to enforce the key provisions of the law, including the mandate to promote residential integration. The stories and maps reveal how politics hobbled the reach of the law, severely limiting both the resources and the will of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to use its vast powers to force communities to undue decades of government-sanctioned segregation. It showed how HUD has from its roots been an agency conflicted about enforcing the law and how those charged with enforcement are undertrained and often maligned within the agency. As a result of the law’s neglect by a succession of Republican and Democratic Administrations, our investigation found that segregation patterns in the cities with the largest proportion of black residents have barely budged.
  • Privacy on the Line

    Tens of thousands of applicants to Lifeline, a federal phone subsidy for low-income families, were put at heightened risk for identity theft when more than 170,000 sensitive records were posted publicly online. When a Scripps team contacted those the files, the reporters heard a startling claim: The “applicants” said they had never seen the forms bearing their signatures – and in some cases had never heard of TerraCom Inc., based in Oklahoma City. Former TerraCom field agents, who were paid on commission, told Scripps that they, not applicants, fabricated and completed applications on instruction from superiors.
  • How America Gives

    Does a person’s address influence how much they give to charity? The Chronicle analyzed tax and demographic data to determine that tax breaks, politics, faith – even the neighborhoods they call home – can have a profound effect on generosity. Regional differences in giving are stark: In states like Utah and Mississippi, the typical household gives more than 7 percent of its income to charity after taxes, food, housing, and other living expenses, while the average household in Massachusetts and three other New England states gives less than 2 percent. How America Gives explores these differences by state, city, county, and ZIP code and provides the most extensive analysis of generosity ever done. The project includes a sophisticated interactive database that allows online users to explore these differences and compare giving by community.
  • A Tale of Two Neighborhoods

    This series of investigative articles examines increasing racial segregation in student neighborhoods surrounding the University of Texas at Austin. Caused by new land zoning in housing communities near campus, rent costs have been on the rise in neighborhoods near the University at the same time that increasing numbers of low-income students of color have been admitted to the University under new admissions policies. With racial tension rising, the result has been a high density of white and Asian students in expensive neighborhoods near campus, and a high density of black and Latino students in other parts of the city who must travel by bus to reach school.
  • Subsidizing Failure

    A Chicago Reporter investigation found that public officials have looked the other way as landlords—who have received more than $1 billion in federal housing subsidies during the past decade—are running some of their properties into the ground and, in some cases, using the buildings as if they are their own personal ATMs.
  • Veterans left stranded amid squalor, crime

    The collapse of a partnership between a non-profit and a crime-ridden apartment complex left the low-income veterans it sought to help living in squalid conditions. An investigation found that the complex had a history of failed inspections and as a crime nuisance; and that no contract existed to bind complex owners to their promises.
  • Locked Out

    The Oregonian spent six months investigating the location of subsidized housing in the Portland area and related failures under the nation's Fair Housing Act. Although the federal law was supposed to fight housing discrimination and end segregation, the newspaper found that investments controlled and funded by government have often been in the region's poorest neighborhoods and areas with high minority concentrations. Because people of color often have a greater need for subsidized housing, these spending decisions reinforce and perpetuate segregation in a largely white metro area.
  • Brando Beach

    Some of the best investigative stories begin with a question. Public radio journalist Austin Jenkins wondered, why is the Washington State Investment Board contracting with a global security firm to protect its account managers? That led to weeks of digging and sifting through difficult-to-obtain documents. What Jenkins found is that this "under the radar" state agency maintains holdings worth millions of dollars in emerging (and sometimes dangerous) markets all over the world. They include housing projects and shopping centers in Brazil, beach properties in Vietnam, warehouses in Eastern Europe, cement plants in India and grocery stores in Romania. Jenkins found that the state of Washington spent $200 million to build a resort on Marlin Brando's private island in Tahiti. All these exotic investments came about because the Washington State Investment Board is responsible for funding the pensions of 400,000 public sector workers and retirees. The task is so big that a traditional mix of stocks and bonds won't do. So Washington, like a lot of states, seeks out higher risk strategies that can return higher rewards. Washington is now a leader in private equity investments. But Jenkins found that the state agency has few limits on these investments. Critics, including some pensioners, say Washington is chasing profits at the expense of social values. Even leaders at the Investment Board admit that, with $85 billion in assets, the agency doesn’t have the staff to police every investment.
  • Fair Housing in America

    ProPublica reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones looked at how and why the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development has failed to enforce the Fair Housing Act. She traced the nation’s history of housing discrimination, from the Great Migration of African Americans to Northern cities in the early 1900’s to the post-World War II boom and into the 1960’s. Again and again, her reporting showed, federal agencies played a pivotal role in keeping white and black Americans separate. While the law required localities to “affirmatively further’’ fair housing, neither Democratic nor Republican presidents had the political will to enforce it. Over time, courts interpreted that provision to mean that HUD could withhold billions of dollars in grants from communities that were not doing everything possible to end segregation. Yet officials charged with enforcing the fair housing law told Hannah-Jones they were often ignored or undercut by others inside HUD, who saw the agency’s main mission as distributing development dollars. Even when courts issued rulings insisting that communities honor the law’s intentions, as she notes in a case about Westchester County, New York, they were routinely ignored by HUD officials and local politicians alike. Hannah-Jones also looked at how little HUD does to root out or punish racial steering and overt discrimination in the sale and rental of property. Millions of Latinos and African Americans face such bias each year. Yet HUD hardly ever does the sort of undercover testing proven to catch landlords and real estate agents in the act.
  • Los Angeles VA Has Made Millions on Rental Deals

    This story is about one of the most fought-over pieces of property in Los Angeles, the 400 acre Veterans Affairs Medical Center campus in West Los Angeles. It’s in an affluent neighborhood and has been a target of developers. But with many unused buildings, it’s also been coveted as a place to house some of L.A.’s 8,000 homeless veterans. That was the original use of the land, which was donated for an Old Soldiers’ Home in the late 19th century. The VA has not acted on plans announced in 2007 to begin rehabbing unused buildings there for housing for homeless vets. Meanwhile, it’s rented out land and buildings to commercial enterprises. There is no public accounting for this income. Through FOIA and other documents, we found that the VA is renting out the property using a law intended for sharing health care resources, though the renters are non-health related commercial enterprises. We were also able to estimate that the VA has taken in at least 28 million and possibly more than 40 million dollars over the past dozen years, far more than the cost of re-habbing a building to house homeless vets.