Thursday, February 27, 2014

Volunteer with TRIP

We welcome one-time or regularly scheduled assistance

TRIP is a comprehensive community development organization that helps people reach their financial and homeownership goals, provides repairs, develops plans and policies to deal with urban issues, convenes likeminded people for change, and communicates with stakeholders in Troy and the area in a variety of ways.

From helping develop our presence on social media to assisting in the office, we are happy to find a way for you to spend your valuable time – as much or as little as you like -- with us.
or contact us directly:
(518) 272-8289 x214
415 River St.
Troy, NY 12180

TRIP Community Services Include:

  • Home ownership education and advisement for new and existing homeowners
  • Quality affordable rental housing and building renovation
  • Neighborhood organizing and community support 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Lunch Anyone?

First Home Club

Prevailing wisdom says that there is no such thing as a "free lunch." Well, think again: the "First Home Club" comes as close as anything can. 

If you are interested in buying your first house in the next year or two, this program is for you! Once you join the program with one of the eight participating banks or credit unions locally with assistance through TRIP's HomeOwnership Center, you can receive $4 for every $1 that you save toward a home purchase (with the maximum matched amount of $7,500). For example, if you save $125 monthly for the next 15 months, you will have saved $1,875. When you close on your home you will receive the $7,500 towards the down payment and closing costs of your purchase. Added to your savings, you will have $9,375 towards the transaction! 

Some restrictions apply, of course. If you are a 1-2 person household, your annual income must be below $61,600; for a family of 3 or more people, the limit is $70,800. 

Contact Caitlin Burns at caitlin [at] triponline [dot] org or call 690-0020 ext. 224 or visit our website at
for more details about the "First Home Club" through the Federal Home Loan Bank of NY.

Faces at TRIP: Hilary Lamishaw

Meet Hilary Lamishaw: Director of Community Affairs

The face behind "Faces at TRIP" and many more of the programs that leverage TRIP's hard work in the community at large, Hilary Lamishaw has been our Director of Community Affairs since 1996. She has a long history of finding and empowering latent leaders to make a difference in their community, from her days as an organizer before she came to TRIP to her daily role today, where she connects people and groups together to share experiences and find commonalities. 

She states that it is her goal to to help people deal with issues as a group - as group efforts often get better responses than individual complaints. She is a strong believer in the power of every-day citizens to get things done, and has helped groups like TNAC (Troy Neighborhoods Action Council), the Vacant Properties Workgroup, and "D.O.G.S." (Dads of Great Students) find their voice. 

Hilary also serves as Coordinator for the NeighborWorks Alliance of New York State, a coalition of 22 similar organizations that are dedicated to revitalizing their communities. 

And in her spare time..........

Safe Spending

Debit, Credit, or PayPal... Which is Safest?

Mammoth retailer Target recently revised its estimate of stolen credit card data to over 70 million cards. This was an astounding breach and a reminder to be aware of any identity theft and bank account safety at all times. 

Here are a few tips on the best ways to use payment conveniences and still protect your money: 

Debit Cards: While they are convenient and can be used without additional fees (except for getting cash from certain ATM machines) debit cards are still not without risk. If a thief gets hold of your data, your entire bank balance is placed in jeopardy. Even if your account is covered for fraud, you can still be short of cash during the bank investigation. It's best to use your debit card only for getting cash, and only directly from your bank's ATM machine. Most security pros advise not using debit cards for online purchases. 

Credit Cards: If you pay your balance monthly and keep from borrowing more than your budget, credit cards are great for purchases both online and off. All credit cards cover fraudulent activity and since they aren't connected to your bank account, you won't be without cash should a thief get a hold of your card data. 

PayPal: Popularly used for online purchases, PayPal offers a way to access your debit card or bank account without the risk of getting cleaned out due to fraud, by creating a buffer between the web and your bank account. There are no fees or interest when using PayPal to purchase items, and the account can be connected to debit, credit, or electronic funds transfer directly from your bank account. 

Whichever method you choose... the very best way to protect yourself from fraud and identity theft is to check your account transactions carefully at least once a month (once a week is better). Notify your bank if you see anything suspicious. 
Sources: PayPal, CNN

Deeper Shades of Green: Energy Costs

Did you know that National Grid will pay you $25 to get a programmable thermostat? For this and more rebates, click here.

Facing down those energy costs as winter continues...
As we in the northeast continue to face cold weather and snow, coupled with rising natural gas prices, now is a great time to take an extra look at those bills that are stacking up. Knowing what is costing you can save you money right away, and taking action can save you money for years to come.

Small changes to your daily activities can have a big impact on our bill and the environment. Click here for tips that can help you manage your home energy usage. 

On the side of every energy bill is a handy chart tracking your usage each month. For buildings that are heated with Natural Gas, you can expect to see an increase in winter months, but if that increase is sharp and high, you may be able to spend a little upfront to insulate and reduce leakage and save hundreds of dollars.

If your windows get cold or drafty, one great winter project that can pay dividends for years to come are window insulation panels. You can buy them from a local company, or build them yourself using these very thorough instructions: 

A programmable thermostat can also do wonders to reduce your heating bills by automatically dropping the temperature in your house while you are away, and boosting it back up before you get home. National Grid is currently running an incentive program where they will send you a $25 rebate to help you buy one. 

Even though spring will be upon us soon, it is never too late to make the lasting improvements that will save you money for years to come.