Sunday, November 14, 2010

We Give Thanks

Rev. Willie and Mr. Jones
Rev. Willie Bacote and E. Stewart Jones, Esq.
This year's TRIP/RCHR Annual Homecoming Dinner on Oct. 20th was once again a great success.  The Troy Treasure Award was given to Rev. Willie Bacote of Missing Link Ministry. The Citizenship Award went to E. Stewart Jones, Esq. Both of these men give of their resources to our community in countless ways. Guests were entertained by MC Jack Casey who even wrote some songs for the occasion.

Patrick Madden and Mr. Jones
TRIP's Executive Director Patrick
Madden with E. Stewart Jones, Esq.
The stories and the laughter were wonderful. A video presentation highlighted the evening and then it came to a close with a beautiful testimony from a homeowner who shared her story and gratefulness for the work of TRIP in her family. It was an extraordinary and inspirational night. Thank you to all who made it special and to those who support the work of TRIP.

If you would like to volunteer your time to help with planning next year's dinner, please call 272-8289. 


Energy $aving$$$ Programs

Here's a conundrum:  it costs money to save money... on energy expenses, that is! While it's obvious that energy conservation measures can reduce your utility bills, many of us wonder how to afford the up-front costs. Here are several options:

Federal Tax Credit for Energy Efficient Home Improvements
If you are ready to do energy efficient home improvements, don’t miss the boat on the federal tax credit which expires on December 31, 2010. The credit is for 30% of the cost of improvements up to $1,500. Only work done in existing homes that serve as one’s principal residence is eligible. New construction and rentals do not qualify. There is no upper or lower limit on income for the energy efficient tax credits.
  • Eligible home improvements include HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) work, biomass stoves (including wood and wood pellets), insulation, roofs (metal and asphalt), water heaters (non-solar) and windows and doors. Tax credits are available through the end of 2016 for solar energy systems, residential wind turbines, and geothermal heat pumps.
  • Tax credits are being administered by the IRS (
  • To apply to the credit, you need to file IRS Form 5695 and submit it with your 2010 taxes, due April 15, 2011. You should save your receipts and the Manufacturer's Certification Statement for your records. For more information, see
Financing Home Improvements
Work that is performed by a participating Building Performance Institute Accredited Home Performance Contractor qualifies for financing through any of the options listed below:

1. ENERGY STAR Financing (1 and 2 family owner-occupied only)
Low-interest ENERGY STAR Financing is offered through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program. Your contractor can supply you with the current interest rate.  The following conditions apply:
* This is an unsecured loan, not a second mortgage or equity loan.
* The limit on the loan is $15,000 or $20,000, depending on your credit score.
* You can select a term of 3, 5, 7 or 10 years.
* Financing is available to owner-occupied 1- or 2-family homes.

2. New York Energy $martSMResidential Loan Fund
Energy $mart Loans are offered through a network of Participating Residential Loan Fund Lenders servicing New York State. The following conditions apply:
* Loans up to $20,000 ($30,000 in the Consolidated Edison service territory) may be obtained on a secured or unsecured basis, at the option of the Lender and the Borrower.
* Your interest rate is bought down by up to 4.0% or 400 basis points, reduced as low as 3.0%, for a term up to ten (10) years.
* Procedures and conditions may vary by Participating Lender, and by loan.
Eligible Improvements for 1-4 Family Homes are those Eligible Measures and Accessories that have been determined by NYSERDA to meet the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program guidelines.

3. Homeowner Financing Incentive
If you choose not to use either ENERGY STAR Financing or the New York Energy $martSM Loan Fund, you may be eligible to receive 10% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency improvements, up to a maximum incentive of $3,000.

4. Additional Incentives Based on Income Eligibility
Households with an income equal to or lower than 80% of state or area median income, whichever is greater, can receive additional financial incentives through Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®. That's an income of nearly $60,000 a year for a family of 4 in most counties and higher in several downstate counties. If you are income-eligible, you may receive assistance to cover up to 50% of the cost of energy improvements. Contact Energy Finance Solutions at 1-800-361-5663 to see if you are eligible.

Single Family: The building occupant's income must be less than or equal to what is listed in the income guidelines for the number of people living in the household. A 50% subsidy up to $5,000 may be available.
Renters: Income-qualified tenants can receive up to a 50% subsidy towards the purchase of ENERGY STAR appliances and lighting or other energy-reducing products. Use the income guidelines to determine if you are income-eligible.

2-4 Family Building Owners: Assisted Home Performance with ENERGY STAR will perform work in 2-4 unit buildings where either the owner is income qualified and occupies one of the units, or tenants are income-qualified. An income qualified owner that occupies a unit in a 2-4 unit building can receive a subsidy of up to $5,000 for the whole building without any income verification required for the tenants. A higher subsidy, up to a total of $10,000 per building, may be available if tenants also are income eligible.
So get smart and get energy savings.  For more information, go to

Troy Grants for Home Improvements

(Troy – November 4, 2010) Mayor Harry Tutunjian announced the city has been awarded a grant from the Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) in the amount of $300,000 to improve 100 homes in South Troy. Combined with matching $200,000 from the city’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) monies, this money will be used towards improving 50 single-family and 50 two-family homes. 

“Earlier this year, I announced the city would be taking an innovative approach to neighborhood revitalization by targeting two areas for infrastructure improvements and neighborhood sustainability projects. These grants for exterior rehabilitation will create a better quality of life and improve neighborhood viability for one hundred homes,” said Mayor Tutunjian. “By revitalizing neighborhood infrastructure and quality of life the city will be in a position to market itself to new homeowners seeking to purchase a home in an area that provides safe neighborhoods and quality basic services.” 

"It is wonderful to see the diligent efforts of the various neighborhood groups, myself, and the Mayor pay dividends in the awarding of these facade grants to continue the initiative to improve South Troy. I will strongly advocate our homeowners in District Six participate in this program that will enable the property improvements essential to maintaining and improving the quality of life in our South Troy neighborhoods," Councilman Gary Galuski (D – District 6). 

Earlier this year at the Mayor’s direction, the city’s Department of Planning and Community Development unveiled an innovative plan for the city’s CDBG monies in the new Five Year Consolidated Plan. This plan will invest $5 million over the next five years in South Troy and North Central neighborhood areas and received City Council approval. 

Back then, Tutunjian noted that $1.2 million is budgeted for what’s being termed the “South Troy Reinvestment Area” to pay for various projects including housing and street improvements, new playground equipment, better sidewalks, more efficient and safer lighting, building stabilization where feasible, vacant building demolition where necessary, and handicapped accessibility projects. This area includes all the neighborhoods from Canal Street south to Main Street and from 1st Street east to 4th Street. 

Additionally, Tutunjian’s recommendations continued funding quality of life programs such as the Neighborhood Improvement through Code Enforcement (NICE) that focus on specific neighborhoods in an intensive effort to correct minor and/or exterior violations before they develop into blight. 

Upon receipt of the grant, the city will develop an application process to determine income eligibility, which cannot exceed 112% of the median income for that census tract. Awarding of the grants will then be determined by the type of project and may include rehabilitation of porches, steps, exterior painting, roof repairs, among other options. 

It is anticipated the city will announce the opening for applications in Spring 2011.

As the Weather Gets Cold, Think "Weatherization"

While the chill in the air may be invigorating if you're raking, running, hiking or otherwise enjoying the outdoors, it sure isn't fun to feel it in your house. As we all know, keeping warm costs money. National Weatherization Day, November 1st, was recognized in Troy earlier this month with a demonstration at a Sixth Avenue home in Troy. The day helps to raise awareness about assistance available to families through the weatherization assistance program. Weatherization helps those least able to afford expensive energy bills to significantly lower their costs, allowing seniors and others who would otherwise be forced to leave to stay in their homes. It is also an important step toward a clean energy environment in which homes are made energy efficient.

State and local officials, community leaders and others toured the three-unit building and watched a blower demonstration. Karen Gordon, executive director of the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), said the program helps families in need to conserve energy and reduce their costs for heat, cooling, and electricity. The family at the Sixth Avenue home will save nearly 50% on last year's heating costs thanks to the energy saving measures. They took advantage of the weatherization assistance program through CEO, Rensselaer County's provider agency.  Locally, CEO expects to weatherize 410 houses throughout Rensselaer County within the next year, using federal and state funding.

Families interested in learning more about weatherization services available through the program should contact the CEO at 272-6012.