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Must reads: Texas watchdog journalism roundup for June 18, 2017

Apartments owned by David Starr
Credit: San Antonio Express-News

Investigative stories across Texas from the San Antonio Express-News, ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle:

Low-income landlord David Starr gets tax breaks despite allegations of poor living conditions | San Antonio Express-News

“Over the last 25 years, Starr has used property tax breaks, state tax credits and tax-exempt bonds to build a real estate empire throughout Texas and in Florida, Illinois, Kansas and other states. Most of his local complexes have been financed through two nonprofits he runs: American Opportunity for Housing and American Agape Foundation. Those nonprofits have a long history of allegations of poor and sometimes dangerous living conditions, according to court filings, complaints filed with the city of San Antonio and interviews with more than a dozen current and former residents.” Story by Richard Webner

How the U.S. triggered a massacre in Mexico | ProPublica and National Geographic

“The inside story of a cartel’s deadly assault on a Mexican town near the Texas border — and the U.S. drug operation that sparked it.” Story by Ginger Thompson

Greg Kelley child sex abuse juror: ‘We found an innocent person guilty’ | Austin American-Statesman and KVUE News

“The judge in the State of Texas v. Greg Kelley asked the 12, one by one, to announce their individual conclusions as to whether the high school football star had carried out the crime of sexually assaulting a 4-year-old boy. The case had already taken a toll on the community, with strident Kelley supporters squaring off in courthouse hallways and on social media against others convinced of his guilt. As jurors took turns reciting their verdict — “guilty,” each of them declared — one holdout stifled two words he wanted desperately to say. “I almost said ‘not guilty,’ ” he said, bowing his head as he recalled that tense moment in court during an interview with the American-Statesman and KVUE-TV. “I should have. We found an innocent person guilty.” Story by Tony Plohetski

Revoked Vouchers: Housing dreams uncertain as federal subsidies come up short | Houston Chronicle

“Thomas was among some 900 Houston families — including a dozen young adults aging out of foster care — whose vouchers abruptly were rescinded by the local housing authority due to insufficient federal funding. The freeze marks the latest setback in Houston’s struggle to address an affordable housing crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. It also provides a glimpse of the anxiety and uncertainty awaiting low-income families if Congress implements the budget cuts to housing programs that President Donald Trump’s administration has proposed.” Story by Rebecca Elliott

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