Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tax Return Theft: A Trend to Watch Out For

We all dread paying taxes every year, but we all love getting those tax return checks in the mail!  A growing problem however, is that other people love getting your tax return checks too.

This crime happens when someone steals John Doe's identity and files his taxes before John does himself.  Next thing you know, Faux Doe is cashing the check that should have been John's.

We shared some identity theft protection tips with you in January, and those suggestions still apply.  To further ensure that your taxes are safe please remember to keep your social security number private and only share it with agencies when it is absolutely necessary.  Another way to make sure no one files a tax return in your name is to file your taxes early.  Be the first (and hopefully only) form with your name on it.  Keeping your finances and identity private will protect your future.

Grant Opportunity for First Time Homebuyers

Buying a home is obviously a huge financial commitment, but for those who think they could never afford homeownership, take a look at the First Home Club:

Program Description
The Capital District Individual Development Account Program was organized by local housing counseling agencies to assist working households to build wealth through homeownership.
  • Receive $4 for every $1 saved, up to $7,500 toward the purchase of your first home.  Need to save $1,875 to receive the maximum match of $7,500.
  • Save for a minimum of 10 months up to a maximum of 24 months
  • Use your savings and the matching funds for the down payment and closing costs associated with your home purchase.  Save the maximum, you will have $9,375 ($1,875 of your savings plus $7,500 matching funds) toward your purchase.
  • You can purchase a home anywhere your bank lends.
  • The home is to be owner occupied for at least five years, or some of the funds may need to be repaid.
  • You must open a dedicated savings account at a participating institution.
Participating Banks/Credit Unions
  • First Niagara Bank
  • M&T Bank
  • Pioneer Savings
  • Capital Communications FCU
  • NBT Bank
  • Glens Falls National Bank* (Only in Northern Rensselaer & Albany Counties)
Who's Eligible?
  • First time homebuyers
  • Earn less than the following amounts:
    • $61,600 if you are a 1 or 2 person household
    • $70,800 if you are a household of three or more people
Sound good?  The first step to enrolling in this program is to come to one of our Homebuyer Orientations.  Our next session will be held Monday, April 16th; register online at or call (518) 690-0020 ext. 221.

Arts Grant and CLI Action Grant Awarded

Congratulations to Public School 2 and the Hillside North Neighborhood Association ("The Hill") on the awarding of two grants!  Project applications earned $2,500 and $2,000 respectively!

School 2's "Artists in Schools" Grant will fund a student-based, co-curricular "Paint the Boards" art project in collaboration with TRIP and The Hill.  Sixth grade students and teachers will work with local artist Marcus Kwame Anderson to create large, painted boards that will be installed over the plywood currently covering windows of vacant buildings in the neighborhood.

Combining art and social studies, the pieces will focus on a theme of the Underground Railroad and the rich history it has here in Troy.  Finally, once the project is completed, the sixth graders will lead the younger students on a walking tour of the paintings installed in the neighborhood fostering greater public speaking skills and civic pride.

If you are curious to see Mr. Anderson's work please visit his website:

Further enlivening the Hillside North Neighborhood, the Community Leadership Institute (CLI) Action Grant that TRIP applied for on behalf of the neighborhood's plan has been awarded!  The plan was created by The Hill's leaders while attending a national CLI conference with TRIP last fall.  These funds, provided by NeighborWorks America, will support the Cleaner and Greener Campaign currently underway.

In an effort to beautify the neighborhood and educate residents about environmental issues, The Hill is working on projects to promote recycling and discourage littering.  Street clean-ups have been happening, and will continue, at least once a month.  Additionally, the group intends to add public trash cans along the sidewalks to increase people's use of them as they walk in order to reduce littering.  Other community projects will include: neighborhood flower plantings, a mural at School 2, and continued educational programs about healthy homes and neighborhoods.

Congratulations again to everyone involved!  We are so excited to work with you on these projects and can't wait to see the beautiful results!

New Faces at TRIP

Staff Changes

Sue Cummings
TRIP saw a few staff changes in mid-February, and we are excited to welcome Sue Cummings to our team!  Sue has been hired as our Administrative Assistant, taking the position previously held by Sue Patregnani.  Sue P. is now filing the accounting position that opened when Jean Clickner left TRIP.  TRIP is happy to have another Sue, and we wish Jean all the best at her new job!

A little about our newest employee: Sue Cummings is a long time resident of the Capital Region.  She grew up in Albany and is now living in Watervliet.  When she's not at TRIP, Sue loves spending time with family and friends, reading good books, and watching movies.  One of her favorite films this year was The Help.

RPI Interns
Also joining the team are two new RPI interns.  Kristi Nelson and Oscar White will be working with us for this spring semester.

Kristi Nelson
Kristi will be working with TRIP as our Communications and Marketing Intern.  She is a Troy native studying IT/Web Science and Graphic Design as a senior at RPI.  Kristi keeps herself quite active; some of her hobbies include snowboarding, soccer, and photography.  Kristi also enjoys the performing arts specializing in ballet and modern dance. 

While interning at TRIP, Kristi is looking forward to a valuable professional experience with visible end results.

Oscar White
Oscar is spending his time with us as our Sustainability and Public Relations Intern.  He is a Business Management Major studying abroad at RPI; his home institution is Leeds University in England. Back at Leeds, Oscar enjoys playing rugby, but here in New York, he has been strapping on his skis and visiting the slopes around the region.  Oscar has made sure to take full advantage of being in the States and has spent time visiting New York City, Boston, Arizona, and California.

During his semester at TRIP, Oscar looks forward to gaining valuable insight into the operations of a not-for-profit organization.

Welcome to all of you!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

You Can Help TRIP! Support the Neighborhood and Rural Preservation Programs and the Foreclosure Program

We Need Your Urgent Help.... Again!

As we reported last month, the governor has eliminated all funding for the Neighborhood Preservation Program, the Rural Preservation Program and the Foreclosure Prevention Program.  TRIP and RCHR receive relatively small amounts of funding from these programs to help with basic operational expenses as well as for our full-time foreclosure prevention counselor.

Thank you so much for your response to our previous plea for help. Unfortunately, the governor did not restore any of the funding that he originally eliminated, so the budget is now in the hands of the state legislature.  We believe they intend to finalize their budget bills this week, which means they need to hear from supporters like you urging them to fund these three critical housing programs. 
Please call your state senator and assemblymember(s) today and leave messages urging funding for the Neighborhood and Rural Preservation Programs and the Foreclosure Program.

For those in Rensselaer County:
If you live outside Rensselaer County, to find out who your legislators are enter your address at the following links:
Some of TRIP and RCHR's programs supported by these funds include Homebuyer education and counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling, financial counseling, Mini-Repair services and Landlord Training, among others. We are able to assist hundreds of customers each year with these programs, which in turn leverages local dollars through new homeowners, contractors, and preserving our tax base. 

Many of you are passionate about the communities in which we live and work.  TRIP and RCHR, and hundreds of similar organizations around the state, are deeply committed to helping revitalize, preserve and improve our communties with a variety of services and programs, some of which depend upon state support.

We hope you will call or email your state representatives today in support of the Neighborhood and Rural Presevation and Foreclosure Prevention programs.

Thank you so much for your help,
Your friends at TRIP & RCHR

Spring Home Maintenance Training Workshops

Spring is right around the corner! Notice anything around your house that you need or want to fix up? Maintaining a home is a huge part of responsible homeownership-- come to TRIP's Home Maintenance Training Workshops and learn the skills you'll need to keep your house in tip-top shape!

Classes are held on Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7:30pm beginning March 13th and running through May 1st.  All workshops are FREE and held at the TRIP building (415 River Street, Troy, Second Floor.)

Participants are welcome to come to all or as many workshops that interest them.  Each class will have a new topic:

3/13 -- Intro to Home Maintenance Training: Hardware & Tools, Creating a Work Plan

3/20 -- Electrical: Installing GFCI outlets, Light Switches, Dimmers, and Light Fixtures

3/27 -- Plumbing 1: Installing Kitchen and Bathroom Sinks & Faucets, Toilet Replacement

4/3 -- Plumbing 2: Pipe Cutting, Sweating Copper & Valve Replacements, How to use Pex Tubing

4/10 -- Flooring: How to Install Tile & Wood, Tools & Surface Prep

4/17 -- Sheetrock: How to Repair Damage, Install New, Taping & More

4/24 -- Painting: Surface Prep and Paint Techniques

5/1 -- Weatherization and Energy Efficiency

To register visit or call (518) 690-0020 ext. 221.
Hope to see you there!

TRIP Hosting Foreclosure Intervention Workshop

Are you behind on your mortgage payments? Anticipating missing a payment? Having difficulties with your lender? Facing foreclosure or know someone who is?  Act now. The sooner steps are taken to remediate issues, the better the outcomes. Let us help you help yourself!

Come to TRIP's office at 415 River St. 2nd Floor, Troy on Tuesday, March 13th from 6-8pm for a Foreclosure Intervention Workshop. Knowledgeable housing counselors and attorneys will be available to answer your questions at this free event. Participants will learn about the mortgage default and foreclosure process.  We will discuss the timeline, lender and homeowner expectations, as well as available options and resources.

TRIP, Inc. is one of five non-profit affordable housing organizations in the Capital District, making up the HomeSave Coalition that is sponsoring this series of workshops around the region.  Homeowners from any county in the Capital District are invited to attend.

Please register online at or by calling Birgit Wood at (518) 690-0020, ext. 226.