Mental health housing opening on Alexander Street –

Mental health housing opening on Alexander Street

New York State announced the opening of a housing development for people with psychiatric disabilities and low-income families.

The $16.6 million mixed-use housing development is called Alexander Commons. On-site behavioral health services will be provided by East House.

There’s 60 units in the building; 30 for people recovering form mental illness, and 30 are available to low-income families.

Wells Fargo customers in $110 million settlement over fake accounts –

Wells Fargo customers in $110 million settlement over fake accounts

by: Matt Egan

Wronged Wells Fargo customers are finally getting a bit of payback.

Wells Fargo has reached a $110 million preliminary settlement to compensate all customers who claim the scandal-ridden bank opened fake accounts and other products in their name.

 It’s the first class action settlement by Wells Fargo since authorities revealed in September that the bank opened up to 2 million fake accounts to meet unrealistic sales targets that have since been eliminated.
Wells Fargo said on Tuesday the payments to customers will be in addition to refunds the bank has already paid out.

The settlement is expected to cover several lawsuits: including one filed in May 2015 in the Northern District of California, a separate one launched last September by customers, as well as 10 others.

Wells Fargo’s $110 million settlement marks a reversal from just a few months ago when it tried to kill a fake account lawsuit by forcing victims to resolve their claims quietly in closed-door arbitration instead of open court.

But Wells Fargo (WFC) apparently decided not to enforce those controversial forced arbitration clauses and reach a settlement instead. The bank cited a desire to “move forward and avoid continued litigation.”

Wells Fargo said the $110 million settlement will cover “all persons” who claim that without consent the bank opened an account in their name, submitted an application or enrolled them in a product or service. The period covered begins on January 1, 2009 and ends whenever the settlement is executed.

Customers who believe they were impacted by Wells Fargo’s fake accounts don’t need to take action yet because a court still needs to sign off on the agreement that was reached in principle.

Wells Fargo said once preliminary approval is received, a notice will be sent out explaining the process for customers to make claims.

It’s not clear yet how much each customer will receive because it’s too early to say how many of them will be included in the settlement.

After attorneys’ fees, Wells Fargo said the $110 million will be used first to compensate customers for out-of-pocket losses. That includes fees incurred due to unauthorized account openings.

Wells Fargo said whatever is left in the pool after that will be split among customers in the class, “based on the number and kinds of unauthorized accounts or services claimed.”

These payouts are on top of the $3.2 million Wells Fargo has paid to customers over 130,000 accounts over potentially unauthorized accounts. That works out to a refund of roughly $25 per account.

A Wells Fargo spokesman told CNNMoney that “in most cases” customers who received a remediation check are eligible to take part in the settlement.

“It really pissed me off,” Brian Kennedy, a retiree from Maryland who discovered a Wells Fargo checking account he never asked for, told CNNMoney in September.

“They expect people to not be paying attention and hope you don’t notice,” Kennedy said.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement that the settlement is “another step in our journey to make things right with customers.”

Despite the settlement, Wells Fargo doesn’t sound like it’s moving away from its practice of enforcing the fine print agreements that require customers to enter arbitration when issues arise. Forced arbitration has been criticized because it allows companies to hide misbehavior in private mediation rather than opening it up to public scrutiny in court.

“Wells Fargo continues to believe that arbitration is an efficient and effective way to resolve disputes,” a Wells Fargo spokesperson said.

KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a report that the settlement is a positive for shareholders because it removes “another overhand” related to the scandal.

But he noted that Wells Fargo’s sales results “remain subdued” since the settlement. Wells Fargo recently revealed its credit card applications plunged by 55% in February, the worst performance since the scandal.

The one thing everyone should do (but no one does) before buying a house – USAToday

The one thing everyone should do (but no one does) before buying a house

By: Jim Wang

Sometime in my mid-twenties, I decided I wanted to stay in the Maryland area and buy a home.

I could afford a mortgage around $1,500 per month based on my expenses—mostly student loan payments—and salary. If I found the perfect home, I could stretch to afford around $1,750 per month.

As I searched for my future home, I played a financial game with myself. I’d soon be saddled with a $1,500 mortgage, so why not spend like I had one already? Why not pay a “pretend mortgage” before my real one so I had a better idea of what it would feel like?

When I was looking for a home, I was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with a friend and paying $600 a month, plus utilities. It was a steep jump to go from $600 to $1,500 a month, so playing this game was important.

At the time, I was budgeting using an app, so I knew I could handle the increase.

I could maintain one of my key money ratios, paying less than 30% of my salary to housing. But I still needed to know how it felt. It’s one thing to see it in an app and another to feel it.

How ‘playing house’ worked for me

Every month, I paid my $600 for rent and set aside $900 in savings. As you’d expect, I didn’t just transfer money from one account to the other, because who has $900 sitting around? If I did, I wouldn’t need to play house!

I had to make adjustments. I contacted my human resources representative to reduce my 401K contributions so I’d have more in my paycheck. I had to adjust my other savings goals as well because I wouldn’t be saving as aggressively.

Making those trade-offs became easier — and easier to explain to friends without having to deal with grumbling, because I was making a clear choice. I was cutting some social time because I wanted to buy a house. I wasn’t saving money for the sake of it. I had a very good reason: to buy a house.

The housing search took about 18 months and I played house for only 12 of them, so I had an extra $10,000 or so saved up in my mortgage account. I took that money and put it toward the down payment.

The house ended up having a mortgage that was a little less than $1,500, and after living with the mortgage payment for a year and a half, I had no trouble adjusting to it.

If you’re thinking about buying a home or making a similar large purchase, consider playing house first.

Todd Baxter leaving Veterans Outreach Center – Democrat & Chronicle

Todd Baxter leaving Veterans Outreach Center

By: Todd Clausen

After three years, Todd Baxter has announced that he will leave his job as executive director of the Veterans Outreach Center

He said in a letter that his last day will be April 14.

“As our youngest Zach is about to graduate high school and go on to college, my wife Mary and I are taking stock in our lives and contemplating future endeavors,” he wrote. “It is for this reason that I will turnover of the management of the Veterans Outreach Center.”

Baxter’s departure marks the second blow to the Veterans Outreach Center in recent months. Founder Thomas Cray was diagnosed with brain cancer, his daughter said in January.

Cray, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War, counseled veterans for a group called the Veterans Outreach Project, which was founded by Vietnam veterans in 1973 to help veterans adjust to civilian life. In 1981, Cray oversaw the incorporation of the project into the nonprofit Veterans Outreach Center, which he led until his retirement from the organization in 2010.

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