Monday, July 11, 2016

Five Tips to Empower Renters

Five Tips to Empower Renters (from NeighborWorks America and NHS of New Haven)

Renter households increased from 34 million in 2005 to nearly 43 million in 2015. With the probability that more families will seek this housing, planning ahead can make the process easier. Working with trained staff at NeighborWorks organizations such as NHS of New Haven can help people become informed consumers of rental homes. 

Following these five tips can make renting a lot less stressful: 

1. Avoid rental listing scams.Scammers often advertise rentals that don’t exist or aren’t available, often known as phantom rentals, to trick people into sending money before they find out the truth. Signs you may have encountered a scam include a person telling you to wire money or they want the security deposit or first month’s rent before you’ve met or signed a lease. Report a scam by contacting local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

2. Get your finances and credit in shape.
Protect your money and pay as little as you can for the apartment you want by strengthening your credit. Nearly half of renters are paying more than 30 percent of their incomes in rent, according to arecent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Financial counseling helps individuals strengthen their credit and establish savings goals. These habits can help you save enough money for a security deposit and help to improve your overall credit score. A good credit score is important because most landlords use a credit check to vet potential renters. Many NeighborWorks organizations offer financial coaching.  

3. Consider renter’s insurance.
Avoiding scams and strengthening your credit are essential. It’s also important to protect your belongings from loss or accidental damage.
Renter’s insurance protects the valuables inside your home whether you're living in an apartment or renting a house. If there were an incident like a fire or water leak, a landlord's insurance would cover the building itself but you would still need to replace your own belongings if damaged.

4. Select a moving company carefully.If your friends or family are not assisting with the move, research moving companies and find a trustworthy one. Read online reviews and check social media, along with asking friends and family for a recommendation. The right moving company can make your relocation go smoothly. Get estimates from a few moving companies to compare prices.            

5. Decide between a large managed property or apartment complex, or renting from an individual landlord.
Do your research and determine which one is best for you. Read online reviews, and if possible talk to current residents and ask what they like and don’t like about the property. Be sure to know your rights as a tenant, which can vary from state to state.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Staying Cool During the Heat!

As temperature soars around the country this week, we want you to be able to stay cool and stay green at the same time!

Here are some great tips to staying cool WITHOUT turning on the a.c: 
(Many of these tips were was first published on Huffington Post in 2014)

1) Keep Your Blinds Closed! 
Did you know that up to 30% of unwanted heat comes from your windows? Keeping your shades closed can lower indoor temperatures by up to 20 degrees.

2) Keep Your Doors Open!
Closing off the rooms in your house will stop the cool air from flowing naturally throughout the home. Keep your doors open to keep the air flowing.

3) Turn Your Fan Into a Mini AC!
Fill a mixing bowl with ice and position it in front of the fan so that the air whips off the ice. The result will be a chilly wind that will cool you down faster than you can say, "ahhhh."

4) Change Your Bedsheets!
While many of us love our flannel sheets (they're so comfortable!), they're not very good for the hot summer months. Your best bet will be cotton sheets as they breathe easier and stay cooler.

5) Set Your Ceiling Fan to Counter-Clockwise
Seems simple enough, but have you ever really looked up to see which way your ceiling fan is turning? Set the fan counter-clockwise in the summer to create a cooling affect in the room.

6) Stay Hydrated!
Last, but certainly not least -- stay hydrated. Most of us forget that one of the simplest ways to stay cool is to cool down our own body temperature -- rather than the temperature of the room. Continuously drink ice-cold water or tea and you can beat the heat.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

NHS Workshop With SeeClickFix

written by Vishakha Negi

Members of the audience were prompted to
answer a few questions about their community,
the first of which was why they cared about it.
Why do we care about our community? 
The answer may seem obvious. We live there. Some of us work there. It's where we were raised and want to raise our children. At the SeeClickFix workshop co-hosted with NHS on June 23rd, however, even more answers materialized. People cared about the impact their community could have on the larger environment, the availability of essentials like groceries and jobs, and the implications it could have for future generations. These answers were a result of an activity during the workshop, which prompted a conversation about what it means to improve communities, as well as how one could go about improving them. As the name of the workshop suggests, the solution that was discussed was an app called SeeClickFix.

SeeClickFix members Nadine Herring, Andrew Johnston and Amanda Parr ran through the basics of the app. Users can share images with comments about issues in their community not only with other community members, but also the relevant authorities. As a result of this process, the issue could be quickly fixed. As an audience member aptly pointed out during the workshop, some individuals may not have smartphone access. Luckily, members of SeeClickFix assured the audience that libraries throughout New Haven would be trained to enter the relevant issues through SeeClickFix’s online platform, and so individuals without smartphones could just share their concerns at a local library. A picture would not be necessary at all – just the issue and the location. SeeClickFix is a viable platform for all individuals and a powerful tool for transforming how we see our communities and take charge of them.

The end result of a brainstorming session on why we care about our communities
and what aspects of it could be improved. Members of See Click Fix finally sorted
these responses into relevant categories like Environment, Investment, Local Pride
and Education.
NHS plans to continue with the workshops, especially because this one was so well-received by both participants and facilitators alike. 

Here is an excerpt from a blog post, which SeeClickFix wrote about the workshop:
“At SeeClickFix, we are grateful for the privilege to work alongside Neighborhood Housing Services and the actively engaged residents and governments dedicated to taking pragmatic steps towards improving their towns and cities. We are dedicated to providing a platform where all voices are given a chance to be heard, where respect is shared and communicated, and where education inspires engagement, awareness leads to involvement, and initiative generates change.”

We are truly lucky to have these opportunities to partner with SeeClickFix. By working together, we are able to better address the issues that affect quality of life in the community.

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CB&O Weekly Newsletter Ed. 6 (July 31 – August 10)

NHS Sixth Newsletter by Will Taft on Scribd