BG Reads | News You Need to Know (September 27, 2018)



With first acquisition, workforce housing fund looks for capital to grow (Austin Monitor)

A real estate investment fund aimed at preserving Austin’s fast-disappearing supply of workforce housing announced the acquisition of its first 308-unit rental property in North Austin.

The Austin Housing Conservancy recently closed on the Preserve at Wells Branch in a deal that saw the Austin Affordable Housing Corporation and the Community Development Trust join with a group of private investors. The fund, which is managed by the nonprofit Affordable Central Texas, has a stated 10-year goal of acquiring up to 1,500 units per year of housing priced for middle-class workers, who are increasingly seeing apartment complexes bought and improved by investment groups who increase rents by 30 to 40 percent to appeal to high-end consumers.

David Steinwedell, CEO of Affordable Central Texas, said the fund has five more acquisitions in the pipeline while more socially conscious investors and foundations are brought on board to provide capital. The fund is targeting properties throughout the city that are close to transit corridors, schools, grocery stores and employment centers that can serve residents earning from 80 to 120 percent of the area’s median family income…

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APD to make changes in mental health cases (Austin Monitor)

As a result of Austin Police Department policies, “people experiencing a mental health crisis in Austin may be at higher risk of having a negative police interaction than people in a city that more closely aligns with best practices,” according to an audit report from the Office of the City Auditor, which was discussed at Wednesday’s meeting of the City Council Audit and Finance Committee.

And when auditors analyzed reports of fatal police encounters in the 15 most populated cities in the U.S. as well as Seattle, which has a robust program for dealing with mental illness, they found a startling statistic. The data indicated “APD has the highest per capita rate of fatal police shootings involving persons believed to be experiencing a mental health crisis. APD management noted that Austin may have more people with mental health-related issues than other cities. We could not find data specific to the number of people with mental illness living in Austin as compared to other cities,” auditors wrote…

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Family of Dallas man killed by Dallas police officer to sue city and officer, attorney says (Dallas Morning News)

The parents of 26-year-old Botham Jean plan to sue the city of Dallas and the former Dallas police officer who fatally shot him in his own apartment earlier this month.

Attorney Lee Merritt said Allison and Bertrum Jean plan to file a federal lawsuit claiming Amber Guyger used excessive force. The city will be named as a defendant because Guyger was operating "under the color of state authority" even though she was off the clock, Merritt said. "She is in uniform, she was wearing a badge, she purports to give commands, which he allegedly failed to comply to," he said. "Clocking in or clocking out has no bearing on that analysis." Merritt said he didn't know when the lawsuit would be filed. Through a spokesman, the mayor declined to comment on the lawsuit. Legal experts have said Dallas could be held liable for Jean's death if lawyers can convince a court that Guyger was acting in the scope of her employment when she killed Jean. The Dallas Police Department fired Guyger on Monday, more than two weeks after the Sept. 6 shooting at the South Side Flats apartment complex in the Cedars. She was charged with manslaughter three days after the shooting and turned herself in at the Kaufman County Jail. She posted bail within an hour and is free awaiting trial. Guyger told investigators she had unknowingly parked on the wrong floor of the parking garage and then walked into the apartment directly above hers thinking it was her own…

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Texas sets voter registration record, with 1.6 million new voters since 2014 (Houston Chronicle)

The Texas voter rolls have grown to 15.6 million people, a new record, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos confirmed. That is nearly a 400,000-person increase since March and a jump of 1.6 million since the last time Texas held a midterm election in 2014, according to election records.

And there is still time for more voters to join the rolls before Oct. 9, the final day to register in time to vote in the midterm elections. To register to vote, Texas residents can fill out an application online or contact their county election administrator’s office. The surge of registered voters come as Texas has one of the nation’s hottest U.S. Senate races between U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke, as well as a half dozen close congressional races that could determine control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Registering to vote and casting a ballot are two different things in Texas. Despite having 14 million registered voters in 2014, just 4.7 million people voted — about 34 percent of voters. In presidential cycles, voter turnout is much higher, hitting almost 60 percent in 2016 and 2012…

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Sen. Charles Schwertner lawyers up, denies sending lewd text, image (Austin American-Statesman)

State Sen. Charles Schwertner on Wednesday forcefully denied that he sent a sexually explicit text message and image to a University of Texas graduate student, and he hired high-profile Austin defense attorneys to represent him in the matter.

After the American-Statesman reported Tuesday that the university was investigating the allegation, Schwertner, a Georgetown Republican, turned to attorneys Perry and David Minton, who said Wednesday that they have “spent hours with Senator Schwertner and others regarding these claims.” The attorneys offered no information that would rebut the accusation. “Senator Schwertner did not send any inappropriate texts as alleged. Period,” the attorneys said in a statement. “The Senator is devastated over these allegations and is concerned for the unnamed victim. We are in contact with the University of Texas to resolve this matter. Our statements regarding the Senator will be proven in the days and weeks to come.”…

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Following Kavanaugh allegations, Cornyn and Cruz say they want to hear from both sides (Texas Tribune)

An explosive week at the U.S. Capitol is expected to climax Thursday when the Senate Judiciary Committee hears allegations of sexual misconduct against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh — and Kavanaugh gets the opportunity to respond.

Texas’ two Republican senators, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, will be in the middle of the action as members of the committee. Over the past 10 days, both have said they want to hear from Kavanaugh’s accusers. And Cornyn, the number two Republican in the chamber, has also pushed for proceedings to move quickly, accusing Democrats of playing politics with the confirmation process and suggesting that the accusations against Kavanaugh were timed to cause maximum political damage…

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