Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Paint the Boards Project Livens Up Vacant Buildings in the Hillside North Neighborhood

Nearing the last day of school, the entire sixth grade class of Troy Public School 2 walked the streets of the surrounding neighborhood with community leaders and elected officials. Trailed by local news cameras, the students pointed with pride to their artwork which is now vibrantly displayed on five vacant buildings. The paintings, which resulted from a school/ Arts Center/ community partnership, highlight courage, pride, and the importance of freedom. Not only do they brighten the neighborhood, they put civic pride and artistry in the place of abandonment and blight. While these buildings wait to be put back into productive use, they are able to be artistic landmarks and points of pride and interest in the community.

Artist Marcus Kwame Anderson stands with
School 2 6th Graders as they present their paintings

Two of the painted boards currently installed on 348 9th St.

Before this exciting unveiling could take place School 2 faculty, in conjunction with TRIP and the Hillside North Neighborhood Association, sat down to plan a cross-curricular project for sixth grade students based on Troy's role in the Underground Railroad. Planning began in the fall of 2011, and the project was first introduced to the students during their Black History Month celebration in February 2012. Students simultaneously learned an in-depth history of the Underground Railroad, researched its local history, and began sketching ideas with the help of local artist Marcus Kwame Anderson.  From Mr. Anderson, the students learned about powerful symbols integral to the Underground Railroad: lanterns, stars, quilt patterns, etc. Working in groups of three or four, the sixth graders also learned to collaborate and compromise on a long-term project. Throughout all this art education, their teachers continued guiding the students through the history being illustrated.

Students and guests appreciate the beautiful paintings

As it is with many city neighborhoods, the community around School 2 is peppered with vacant buildings. Last year, the Hillside North Neighborhood Association formed a cohesive, long-term plan to tackle this issue and simultaneously beautify their streets. The neighborhood group holds that education about recycling, beautification, and civic responsibility and pride will be most effective when begun in childhood. Here, the idea of collaborating with School 2 and the beginnings of the Paint the Boards project began.

Thank you to all who played a role in this project: Marcus Anderson, School 2 faculty and staff, especially Principal Martin, the 6th Grade teachers: Janet Morandi and Joanne Valenti, and School 2 art teacher, Rebecca Lyons, TRIP staff, the Hillside North Neighborhood Association, the Rensselaer Society of Engineers Fraternity, and of course a huge THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS to the School 2 6th Grade students!

The boards are currently installed on five buildings: 348 9th St, 331 10th St, 341 10th, 427 10th, and 443 10th.

If you would like to see more photos from this project please visit:

This project was made possible in part through an Artists in Schools Grant, a program funded by The Arts Center of the Capital Region through the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Paint the Boards of the Underground Railroad

You are invited to an exciting community event at School 2 (Middleburgh & 10th) on Friday, June 15, from 8:30 to 9:30 AM --  the unveiling of the sixth grade’s Underground Railroad Community Art project. Under the guidance of local artist Marcus Kwame Anderson and School 2 teachers Janet Morandi and Joanne Valenti, students created and painted scenes based on their learning about Troy’s role in the Underground Railroad. Fourteen vibrant paintings will be displayed on five vacant buildings surrounding School 2.   

On Friday, we will gather at School 2 to recognize the students/artists and then tour the area to view the beautiful boards in the neighborhood.     This project was a partnership between School 2 and TRIP.  It was funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts through a grant from The Arts Center of the Capital Region.   

We look forward to seeing you on Friday!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Deeper Shades of Green: Start Your Summer Green, Build a Rain Barrel

Hot, summer days are here again, and for most of us that means using a lot more water to keep our yards and potted plants thriving. Increased attention on possible water shortages during summer months has us looking for water conservation strategies. It's obvious that we would prefer to drink water from a faucet rather than what runs off the roof in a rainstorm, but can flowers and grass tell the difference? No, so instead of filling up watering cans with tap water build a rain barrel and harvest your own water!

To build your own rain barrel you will need a large plastic barrel, a nylon or plastic filter, two water spouts, two rubber washers, plastic extender pipe, and a hack saw. For step-by-step instructions on building a rain barrel visit Good luck, you'll soon be enjoying the benefits of a healthy garden without a higher water bill!

TRIP & RCHR Program Profile: Homebuyer Incentive Program

Providing first-time homebuyers with opportunities for success is the backbone of the TRIP NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center, and the foundation of the Homebuyer Incentive Program (HIP). HIP funding, administered through the City of Troy, is available to first-time homebuyers with an annual household income at or below 80% of the area median income (which is $62,500 for a family of four) and can provide eligible applicants with either $15,000 or $20,000.

To qualify for a HIP grant, applicants must be looking to purchase a one or two family house in the City of Troy. Funds can be used towards down payments, closing costs, and/or to make up any difference between the purchase price and the sale price that would be affordable for the homebuyer. If HIP sounds like a program that you or someone you know might be interested in, the first step is to attend a Homebuyer Orientation session. A schedule of upcoming workshops can be found at

More information about HIP can also be found at

HomeOwnership Center Luncheon a Success!

On Thursday, May 17th, the TRIP NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center hosted its 9th annual HomeOwnership Center Luncheon. This year's theme was "Homebuying-- Now's the Time, Join the Team." Attendees included supporters of the HomeOwnership Center, local realtors, and elected officials.

Welcoming guests was the Honorable Steve McLaughlin of the 108th NYS Assembly District. Doug Dylla , a national homeownership consultant, provided information about national trends, including a pent-up demand for home purchases particularly among first-time homebuyers, the demographics of future homeownership markets, the challenges facing today's buyers, and how strong partnerships between lenders, realtors, government, and not-for-profits such as TRIP's HomeOwnership Center can best help homebuyers reach their goals.
TRIP Board President Joseph Fleming and Doug Dylla
at the 2012 TRIP HomeOwnership Center Luncheon
Paul Semanek, past president of the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, spoke about local trends and the current state of homebuying in Rensselaer County. He also endorsed pre-purchase education such as that offered at TRIP's HOC to create prepared, informed, and ready buyers.

TRIP Executive Director, Patrick Madden, and Bobbi Carter, Director of TRIP's HomeOwnership Center, provided data about the outcomes of our work and the subsequent local economic impact. The 2012 donors of our HomeOwnership were thanked and new partners were warmly greeted. Thank you to everyone who atteneded; we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Full-Time Americorps*VISTA Positions Available, November 2012 - November 2013

TRIP is seeking two motivated and energetic people to provide a year of service through Americorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in the following areas:

Resident Engagement Volunteer -- primary responsibilities include: establishing and overseeing a youth coalition promoting community involvement and healthy neighborhoods, developing sustainable systems to engage TRIP tenants and their children in community improvement, and aiding current and emerging neighborhood associations.

Green and Sustainability Volunteer -- primary responsibilities include: promoting TRIP as an environmentally conscious organization dedicated to providing resources and opportunities to clients and the community, participating as a member of TRIP's internal Green Team, establishing systems to ensure that our Green goals are achieved and maintained, and working with the Green Team to reach and sustain the Green NeighborWorks Organization designation requirements.

If you want to make a change in Troy and the world, this is a great opportunity! On-the-job training as well as national VISTA training will be provided. Applicants must be at least 18 years old.

For more information about Americorps*VISTA and/or the positions available at TRIP, please contact Hilary Lamishaw at or call (518)272-8289 x214. Applications will be accepted until August 3, 2012. Submit a letter of interest and resume to Hilary at or TRIP at 415 River Street, Troy, NY 12180.

Statewide Neighborhood Conference Scheduled, September 21-22, 2012

Thanks to the vision of local business owner Rocco DeFazio and the efforts of a hardworking team of city residents, Troy is proud to host the first New York State Neighborhood Revitalization Conference on September 21st and 22nd at Russell Sage College. This conference will bring together neighborhood activists, educators, business people, and elected officials to share successes and develop strategies to maintain healthy communities. Throughout the conference, attendees will hear from and work with diverse neighborhood leaders and activists from across the state, including keynote speakers Alan Mallach and James Kunstler.
For more information or to assist, please see the initial announcement at and/or visit the website,

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Documents the Benefits of Pre-Purchase Counseling

TRIP & RCHR, our customers, and our supporters know all about the importance of pre-purchase homebuyer counseling, but now the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released a study corroborating that knowledge.

Released in May, the study written by Jennifer Turnham and Anna Jefferson, sampled 573 individuals and found significant levels of achievement in homebuyers who received pre-purchase housing counseling. They were more likely to be mortgage-ready, have a signed purchase agreement, and havevdecent credit scores as a result of the financial, budgeting, and homebuying information received.  Additionally, the study tracked participants at 12 to 18 months after receiving pre-purchase counseling services and found that "only one of the purchasers had fallen at least 30 days behind on his or her mortgage payments and none had a major derogatory event on a mortgage account."

If you or someone you know is considering homeownership, don't miss out on pre-purchase education and its benefits. At the TRIP NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center we offer free, professional housing counseling with certified counselors. For more information, go to or call us a (518) 690-0020.

To read the complete HUD Pre-Purchase Counseling Outcomes Study go to

Friday, June 8, 2012

Call for Nominations: Troy Treasure Award

TRIP is seeking nominations for the 2012 Troy Treasure Awardee -- an individual, group, or business committed to improving Troy! We know there are many of you, and we would love to see you honored as a Troy Treasure. This year's Troy Treasure Awardee will be recognized at the TRIP & RCHR Homecoming Dinner on October 29th.

Please nominate your favorite Troy resident, business, group, etc. today! The deadline for nominations is July 16th.

More information and nominations forms may be found at .

New Faces at TRIP: Welcome Joel Levy, Summer Intern

TRIP would like to welcome our newest intern, Joel Levy! Joel is a rising senior at RPI double-majoring in Business Marketing and Electronic Media Arts and Communication. Growing up in Florida, this is his first New York summer!

Joining the TRIP team as a Marketing and Communications Intern, Joel will be developing templates for and designing printed materials, assisting with online promotion of TRIP and our partners, and serving as a photographer at events. We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Joel, and look forward to a productive summer!