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Posts published in April 2006

Area High School Students join Immigration Protests

with assistance from GIL HOFFMAN

Ten years from now, most of the current high school students will not be able to name most of the former U.S. presidents. But well into old age, area high school students will remember the civics lessons learned this week in the streets rather than the classroom.
Last week, hundreds of Houston teens went on strike to show their displeasure with the bills currently debated in Congress regarding how to deal with undocumented immigrants. Students from Aldine ISD and Sam Houston High were among the protestors.

About 220 students from Aldine ISD participated in the protests according to public information officer Mike Keeney. Six students left from Shotwell Middle; ten from Hoffman Middle. On Monday, 150 to 180 students total left from Eisenhower High and Ninth Grade Center, and on Tuesday, 80 to 100 students left. Area Supt. Margaruite Bynum said up to 100 students left from MacArthur High.
“The majority of students who left school on Monday were back in school on Tuesday,” said Keeney. “The principals did a good job of corralling the kids and making sure they stayed on campus.”
After the rally at city hall Tuesday, about 40 students got a ride home on Aldine school busses after the students called the district to request a ride.
According to Keeney, all the students received unexcused absences for the day which means that they cannot make up the work missed. Further punishment was dealt on an individual basis and ranged from a parent conference to one to two days in in-school suspension. Most of the students had to go to school Saturday from 8am to 1pm.
Keeney said Eisenhower principal Al Reynolds encouraged students to write their legislators and teachers helped students to clearly express their opinions. As of press time, Sheila Jackson Lee was scheduled to visit Eisenhower High on Monday, April 3 to speak to the students.
The Houston students’ walk out was part of protests around the country over bills currently debated in Congress to change the US policy toward undocumented immigrants.
In December, a bill passed in the House that would have made it a felony not only to be an undocumented immigrant, but also to aid one. This would have placed clergy, volunteers, and employees in non-profit aid agencies in a tough situation. On Monday, March 27, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected that portion of the bill.
Now, the debate has moved into the senate where two bills are up for debate. One is the bill approved by the Judiciary Committee and based on plans by Senators John McCain R-Ariz. and Edward Kennedy D-Mass. It includes measures to allow the 12 million current undocumented immigrants in the US to work toward citizenship without having to return to their home countries. The path toward citizenship under this plan would take about six years. The bill would also create a temporary worker program.
The other bill, filed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn. is aimed at restricting immigration. It does not contain a guest worker program but would increase border enforcement.

ACORN breaks ground on new housing

The North Forest area will soon be welcoming new neighbors. Texas ACORN Housing broke ground Thursday on ACORN Mesa Homes. Within the next two years, 89 new single-family homes will sit on the 18.3 acres near the 9600 block of Mesa Road and E. Tidwell.
The first three homes will be built on Rinn Road with scheduled completion planned for May. The next phase will be the completion of ten homes by August with five homes a month after that.

The subdivision will have new infrastructure such as utilities, water, sanitary sewer, storm water drainage. The water, sewer, and streets will then belong to the city of Houston. The construction of streets and infrastructure should be completed by mid-June. The sub-division will have an organized, “Home Owners Association” (HOA) with deed restrictions.
All homes will be single family homes, built on 5,000 square foot lots. Houses will range from 1,234 sq. ft. to 1,905 sq. ft. Units will be one and two-story, brick on three sides, 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2 or 2.5 bathrooms, with attached 2 car garage. Homes will have individual wood fence back yards.
The homes range in price from $100,000 to $113,000. However, home buyers may be eligible for down payment assistance. Through ACORN Housing, families that qualify will receive down payment and closing cost assistance of as much $7,500 to $10,000 to purchase a new home in the ACORN Subdivision. Eugene Mendoza, Housing Development Coordinator said, “These private funds are awarded through a Federal Home Loan Bank Foundation (AHP) grant provided to the project by our financial partners JP Morgan Chase Bank and World Savings, members of the FHLB system. Some families may also quality for additional City of Houston public funds of $10,000 to $15,000 dollars of down payment assistance to buy an ACORN Home.
With the down payment assistance, the mortgages will be $81,829 to $995,192. The monthly payments, including the estimated loan payment, local taxes, insurance, and mortgage insurance, will range from $885 to $1,002 dollars per month.
The target buyers for these homes are families of four making 50% of the Area Medium Income, 46 units, and families of four making 80% of Area Medium Income, 43 units.
The homes are built by Majestic Home Builders, Inc. who has been a leader in building quality affordable housing in Houston since 1994. Majestic guaranties plumbing, electricity, AC/Heat and leaksvfor the first year The house also carries a ten year limited warranty for slab construction. There are other warranties on Sears appliances and the AC equipment.
Texas ACORN Housing Corporation (TXAHC) is a Texas 501 (C) (3) non-profit Community Housing Development Organization (CHDO) .
Texas ACORN Housing Corporation the owner and developer of the project is an affiliate organization of ACORN HOUSING CORPORATION (AHC) a national non profit corporation that has been providing, since 1987, free housing counseling to families that are low and moderate-income, first time homebuyers. Mendoza said, “ACORN Housing, has opened HUD-certified, Fannie Mae-approved housing counseling offices across the US, helping over 50,000 families to achieve homeownership”.
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, founded in 1970, is the nation’s largest community organization of low and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities.
“ACORN Housing has successfully developed other single-family housing projects in Chicago, ILL, Phoenix, AZ, and New York City and is working in 30 major cities in serving low to moderate-income households in the home buying markets across America,” said, Mendoza.
For more information on “ACORN MESA ROAD SUBDIVISION” or the free housing counseling program please call 713- 863-9002 or 713-349-0760, Mon. –Fri. 9:00 am – 5:30 pm

Aldine Graduate killed in Iraq

The Department of Defense announced last week that a local airman, Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss, Jr. 37, was killed in a roadside explosion in Iraq.
Moss was a 1990 graduate of Aldine high school, as was his wife Georgina. They have 2 children, and lived in Mountain Home, Idaho. His parents were Walter Moss, Sr. and Rebecca York.
Exact details of the incident were not available, but Moss was a specialist in detecting and defusing bombs. It is thought that his death was related to activities in that field.

Moss was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. He joined the military right after high school at Aldine. Moss and his family have travelled extensively over the years.
The family expects burial to be at Houston National Cemetery, but arrangements were not final at press time.