Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holiday Cheer and Underage Drinking

TRIP is a proud partner of the Troy Drug Free Community Coalition (Troy DFCC).  Helping young people avoid substance and alcohol abuse is key to their ability to reach their full potential and perhaps become dynamic leaders in their communities.  As a member of the Troy Drug Free Community Coalition, we will share their news and encourage you to participate in the Coalition.  Here is an important message from the Coalition to share with youth particularly at this time of the year.  
While the holiday season is a time for celebrations with family and friends, statistics show it is also a time when underage drinking sees a significant increase. Medical experts agree that there is usually a spike in underage drinking during the holidays. Medical centers see coma, death, asphyxiation, vomiting, suicide attempts and completions, and injuries increase - all of which are related to alcohol. 
The reasons are simple. Teens have more unsupervised time. Teens have easier access to alcohol. Our culture celebrates with alcohol.
The Troy Drug Free Community Coalition is urging parents to give their teens the priceless gift of time by remaining involved in their lives and scheduling meaningful family time throughout the holidays. Troy DFCC is a partnership of concerned community members organized for the purpose of reducing substance abuse among young people and building a healthier, safer, more prosperous community for all.
Troy DFCC knows that parental involvement is the most important factor in preventing teen drug use and we know that spending time with your kids and talking to them about the dangers of alcohol, marijuana and other illicit drugs are proven strategies for preventing drug use. We encourage you to talk about your expectations for non-use of drugs and alcohol and be firm about consequences should they make the poor decision to use. The holiday break is a great opportunity for families to open dialogue with teens through activities like cooking, shopping, traveling, or volunteering together.
Here are some ways families and the community can help to promote healthy celebrations and prevent underage drinking:
  • Help youth develop skills to see through alcohol marketing and other media messages linking the holiday with alcohol and good times.
  • Encourage activities that are alcohol-free, such as movie night, ice skating, or getting involved in community activities and board game night.
  • Prohibit underage youth from any area where alcohol is served.
  • Ensure that nonalcoholic drinks are available at all parties for teens and adults.
Visit us for other resources to help you start the conversation with your child.
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Davia Collington
Troy DFCC Coordinator

The Troy Drug-Free Community Coalition (Troy DFCC) is a partnership of concerned community members organized for the purpose of reducing substance abuse among young people and a vision of building a safer, more prosperous community for all.

Troy Drug Tip Line: (518) 279-7911….…….Help for Drugs, Alcohol, Gambling 1-877-8- HOPENY (1-877-846-7369)
Contact: Davia Collington, TroyDFCC Coordinator phone 518-272-8289ext216  E-mail Troydfcc@triponline.org www.TroyDFCC.org like Us on Facebook

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Energy Efficiency


Energy Efficiency

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® makes it easy for you to save energy at home! Take control of your energy use and make your home more comfortable year-round. Here’s a great way to do it — with support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) in six simple steps.

1. Get assessed - Have a comprehensive home energy assessment performed by a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor. In addition to measuring your home's energy performance, an expert will conduct important health and safety tests to ensure major combustion appliances are operating properly. For most New Yorkers, the home assessment is free. Available on 1-4 unit homes.
  1. Get the assessment application.
  2. Check your income eligibility for free vs. reduced-cost.
  3. Watch a video overview of an assessment in action.
  4. Choose a participating BPI-accredited Home Performance Contractor.

2. Paying for the work - If you don’t have the cash on hand, NYSERDA offers low-interest loans, incentives and assisted subsidies to help you pay for work. Learn about financing, subsidies and incentives.
3. Get approved - Receive loan status notification and return the signed loan documents. For more information, visit
Energy Finance Solutions.
 4. Upgrade - Have a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor implement the upgrades described in your Scope of Work. NYSERDA may inspect the work to verify its quality.







From Affordable Housing Partnership in Albany  www.ahphome.org

5. Test-out and earn incentives - When your energy upgrades are finished, your contractor will repeat the tests conducted during the initial assessment. Upon test-out and acceptance of work you and your contractor will sign a Certificate of Completion, which is submitted to NYSERDA Your lender will then make payment to your contractor. You can also enjoy other incentives like 10 percent cash back on eligible upgrades (PDF).

Troy Charter Review Commission

Troy Charter Review Commission Makes Recommendations

 Voters Decide on Election Day 

September 01, 2015

Contact: John Salka, Deputy Director of Public Information, (518) 279-7131

TROY NY – Mayor Lou Rosamilia announced today that after an eight-month effort the Troy City Charter Commission has completed a set of sweeping recommendations to the city’s governing document that will go before voters in the November general election.

“The final recommendations made by the Charter Review Commission represents significant improvements to our city’s governing document, proposing necessary changes to ensure future effectiveness and efficiency” said Mayor Rosamilia. “I want to thank Commission Chairman Ian Silverman and the rest of the commission members for their service and I urge voters to support these changes during the election this fall.”

“The Charter that the Commission is putting before the voters this November is the product of eight months of hard work from a diverse non-partisan group of citizens.  I am proud to be a part of this group and of the final Charter that we have produced,” said Charter Commission chairman Ian Silverman. “I believe the new Charter provides a more concise and efficient guiding document for our City’s governance. I encourage everyone to go to troyny.gov to read the document and the executive summary for themselves and to vote yes on the new City Charter November 3.”

Among its numerous provisions, the new charter, the first such major overhaul in decades, would:

• Reduce the size of the City Council from 9 to 7

• Provide for the first time the direct election of the Council president

• Merge several departments into a Department of General Services to improve efficiency of services, personnel management and fiscal oversight

• Provide for creation of an independent, bipartisan Redistricting Commission to avoid gerrymandering of election districts

• Add or upgrade minimum qualifications for certain professional positions

• Eliminate large amounts of outdated or redundant material

The Commission is a nine-member, nonpartisan panel of Troy residents working without financial compensation. Five members were selected by Mayor Rosamilia and four members were selected by members of the City Council. All of its working sessions have been open to the public. The commission is chaired by Ian Silverman, the city’s corporation counsel. Other members are vice chairman Kevin Glasheen, William M. Dowd, Jill Nagy, Patrick Morphy, Flora Carr, Pat Madden, Kevin Vandenbergh, and Council member Kenneth Zalewski.

The General Election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

The full text of the proposed Charter and an accompanying executive summary are available on TroyNY.gov, the city’s official website.

Proposed Charter for the City of Troy, NY - 2015

Troy City Charter Commission Executive Summary 2015

Savings Tip

money-icon.gifSavings Tips   

As the weather chills, bites will be taken from our pocketbooks with increased energy costs and upcoming holiday expenses.

Put a savings plan together now!  Check your utility bills to see your usage, past and present.  Aim to lower those bills by implementing some of the following tips from National Grid. 

Energy saving tips

Save energy, Save money with the top 10 electricity and gas safety tips.

1  Replace five lights with ENERGY STAR® light bulbs and save 62 kwh for a total savings of $9 per month. 
2 Turn off lights, appliances, TVs, stereos and computers when not in use. You will save 58 kwh and $9 per month.
3 If you have a large television (greater than 32"), turn it off when not watching. You can save 50 kwh and $8 per month.
4 Unplug your electric space heater or hot tub and save $41 (or 270 kwh) per month.
5 Unplug and recycle your old, second refrigerator and you can save $23 (150 kwh) per month.
6 Washing your clothes in cold water can save you 63 kwh—or $9 per month.
7 Repair leaky faucets and save on your electric hot water. You can save 40 kwh or $6 per month.
8 Unplug chargers, laptops, anything with remote control or "instant on" features and save $4 (29 kwh) per month.
9 On your electric dryer: clean the dryer filter, and clean and straighten the exhaust hose/duct and vent outside. You will save 23kwh—or $3 per month.
10 When buying new appliances, always choose ENERGY STAR. This can save you 75 kwh—or $11 per month.


Remember, savings will vary significantly from home to home. Data based on 500 kwh monthly residential usage at 15 cents per kwh per month.

Top Natural Gas Saving Tips
1 Tune up your furnace to save $8.80 a month, or replace an 80% efficient furnace with one 90% efficient or more and save $30.80 a month.
2  Install a programmable thermostat, lowering the setting 6−8° at night and when no one’s home, and save $16.50 a month.
3  Caulk and weather-strip to keep warm air indoors and save $13.20 a month.
4  Dry only full loads of laundry and save $6.60 a month.
5  Lower your water heater setting to 120° F and save $8.80 a month.
6  Choose an energy-efficient hot water tank when replacing an older one and save $6.60 a month.
7  Insulate walls, ceilings and windows where you can and save $16.50 a month.
8  Choose energy-efficient windows when you need to replace them and save $28.60 a month.
9  Always choose ENERGY STAR®-qualified appliances and save $24.20 a month.

Thank You Joe!

A Hearty Thanks to Joe Fama

Joe Fama
Almost synonymous with TAP (Troy Architectural Program) is the name of its founder and long-time executive director, Joe Fama. Joe's passion for historic architecture made Troy the perfect home for him. He moved here to attend RPI in 1966 and never left.  
For almost 50 years Joe has been a stalwart supporter and cheerleader of Troy, both personally and in his leadership role at TAP.
Since creating TAP in 1969, TAP has restored countless buildings and streetscapes throughout the Capital Region, improving the look and feel of many communities. A man of strong opinions and creative ideas, he has provided assistance to hundreds of organizations and residents on issues such as code and zoning regulations, historic preservation, community stabilization and much, much more.    

TAP has partnered with TRIP  on many projects, including the substantial rehabilitation and energy upgrades of the School 10 Apartments, rehab/stabilization and/or architectural drawings of many other buildings, community planning initiatives, the Troy Vacant Properties Workgroup; the list goes on. TRIP was proud to bestow upon Joe its TRIP & RCHR Community Citizenship Award in 2011.  

So what's next for Joe Fama? 

According to Joe, "After 43 years, it is clearly time to step aside. I do not plan to take a new full time job, to move anywhere else, or to do anything wildly different. I hope to continue to work with the same wonderful people on the same social justice issues. I just want fewer responsibilities and a shorter work week. It will be exciting to watch TAP, led by Barbara Nelson (TAP's newest executive director as of October 1st) add new services and skills to its program."  
We are so glad that Troy will continue to benefit from your wisdom, experience, and humor, Joe.  We look forward to seeing - and perhaps working with -- you on important community projects. 

Congratulations to Joe for your decades of commitment to Troy and the area.  And we offer a warm welcome and congratulations to Barb Nelson as she becomes TAP's executive director as of October 1st.  We look forward to working with you in your new position, Barb!

Fall Maintenance

Autumn Maintenance For Your Home

By Staff writer State Farm™

As the leaves change and the days get shorter, take the time this autumn to prepare for the oncoming cold weather. Ready the furnace for the months of work it will have ahead, and clean out the fireplace. Test them both to ensure they’ll be working when you need the heat. Don’t wait until it’s snowing to clear out your gutters. With upkeep in the fall, you’ll have peace of mind in the winter and more time to hibernate.

Inside The House

Heating System Checkup

Be sure to change the air filter in your furnace and check its efficiency before the cold weather begins. Call in an HVAC contractor to test the heating output and give the system a tune-up. This technician can also check for and correct possibly hazardous carbon monoxide levels generated by your heating system. Stock up on several air filters for the winter, and change them every month. If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, purchase one for the system to help lower your energy costs.
After your furnace has been tuned up to its maximum efficiency, take a moment to inspect your heating ducts and vents. Dust them off and clear away anything that may have gotten into them over the summer. Then check your windows for any leaks that may compromise your heating efficiency. If you feel cold air coming in, purchase a plastic sealing kit from the hardware store and place the plastic around the window to keep the heat from escaping. Be sure to check your doors as well, and fix their weather-stripping if needed.

Check The Fireplace And Chimney

Most chimney sweeps recommend an annual sweeping, but depending on how often you use the fireplace, you might be able to wait on a full sweep. But if you will be using the fireplace often, call a chimney sweep for an inspection. For further information, read the Chimney and Woodburning Fireplace Safety guide.
Hopefully you will have your older, seasoned firewood now ready for use after sitting for the spring and summer. It’s recommended to keep the firewood at least 30 feet from the house and covered. Seasoned wood is best for fires, as it burns cleaner and longer.

Review Home Fire Safety

The introduction of the heating season brings new potential for fire hazards, so take a moment to review fire safety in your home. Check and replace fire extinguishers if necessary, and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Also go over the home fire evacuation plan with your family.

Outside The House

The Gutters

It’s best to inspect and clean the gutters a few times during the fall, especially if there are many leafy trees around your house. If gutters remain clogged, water will spill over them and onto the ground next to the foundation, which may cause damage to the foundation. Gutters and downspouts should be kept clean and should direct water away from the foundation, as well as from walkways and driveways, so that they do not become slippery or icy.

Yard Maintenance

The orange, yellow, and brown colors of the autumn leaves don’t look as nice on the ground as they do on the trees. Rake the leaves into piles and scoop them into yard waste bags. Most areas have ordinances about burning leaves, so check with your local area government first. When sweeping the leaves off your patio, don’t forget to clean, pack up, and store any patio furniture for the winter. Disconnect garden hoses and, if practical, use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the section of pipe just inside the house.

In The Garage

It is recommended that you empty out unused fuel from any gas-powered equipment stored in the garage, such as a lawnmower, because sediment can build up and clog the fuel lines. Store gasoline in tanks out of children’s reach and have it ready for use in your snowblower or emergency generator, if need be.

Test Your Emergency Generator

It’s a good idea to have an emergency generator if you live in an area that sees a lot of ice storms, as these are a major cause of blackouts during the winter. So if you have one, haul it out and give it a test run to see if it is in good working order. Make sure you never run the generator in any enclosed space – like your garage – as it will present a carbon monoxide hazard.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Job Position Available at TRIP

Job Position Available at TRIP:  Controller

The Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, Inc. (TRIP) is a well established non-profit providing an array of community development services throughout Rensselaer County with an emphasis in Troy. We are seeking a Controller to lead our accounting team.
The Controller will be responsible for:
  • Providing accurate and timely financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP to the Board Treasurer, Executive Director and Finance Committee and Board Members. Prepare ad hoc reports as requested.
  • Working with the Executive Director, Senior Staff and others as required to budget and track rental property acquisition, development, rehabilitation, repair and maintenance costs, both for the short and long term.      
  • Working with the Executive Director and Director of Property Management on all finance related issues related to the operation, improvement and maintenance of existing and potential TRIP properties.
  • Working with the Executive Director and senior staff to prepare departmental and grant-associated budgets, and report on significant variances.
  • Working with the Property Management division staff, funders and regulators to maximize the financial performance of each TRIP-controlled property, while ensuring proper accounting and controls are in place.
  • Overseeing the work and performance of the accounting staff.
  • The selection, coordination, reporting and administration of Human Resource/Benefits.
This position requires a Bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, or business administration AND five year's work experience with progressive responsibility in the field of financial management and the willingness and ability to learn a variety of financial management skills in several related fields.
Please include salary requirements with resume.
Please mail resumes to:
415 River Street
Troy, NY 12180 
Attn: Human Resources 
EOE - committed to diversity

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Identity Theft Poses Extra Troubles for Children

Appeared in the New York Times on April 17, 2015

The note that arrived in the mail, dated March 25 and addressed to my grade-school-age daughter, said what we had expected and feared: Like tens of millions of other Americans, including untold numbers of children, she may have fallen victim to thieves who gained access to Social Security numbers and other personal data from the health insurance giant Anthem.

In three single-spaced pages, it noted that anyone who had dealt with the company and many Blue Cross and Blue Shield insurance plans over the last decade could be vulnerable. The letter pointed us to anthemfacts.com for more information, which it described as “our source of truth.”
Here’s what the note did not fully address, however: What are the odds that someone will steal a child’s identity? Why would a thief do that, and what exactly can parents do to keep it from happening?

I know better than to overreact to this sort of thing. Thieves have to get the data, choose to use it (instead of chickening out), pick yours to use in nefarious ways and then do so successfully before any damage to a child’s credit record can occur. Still, a 2011 joint industry-academic examination of 40,000 children caught up in a data breach found that someone else appeared to be using 10.2 percent of their Social Security numbers. Most of those instances happened before the breach in question.

Freezing a Child’s Credit

Nineteen states require credit reporting agencies to allow a parent or guardian to freeze their child’s credit file, which helps prevent identity theft.

So crime like this does happen, and here’s why: Children’s credit reports are clean. That’s attractive to people who want to begin their financial lives anew for any number of reasons. Plus, minors don’t check their credit reports or review monthly bills the way grown-ups do, which means thieves may not get caught for years or even decades.

One way that people can protect themselves from many kinds of identity theft is to put a freeze on their credit reports with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the three agencies that make a lot of money tracking our financial histories and selling that information to companies we want to do business with.

A credit freeze is more stringent than the more popular fraud alerts that many consumers have used in the past. Putting your reports on ice means that any new creditor trying to open an account in your name won’t have access to your credit report unless you go into the system and thaw it. Without seeing your credit report, companies that you are not already patronizing generally won’t open a new account in your name, so the freeze usually has the effect of thwarting thieves.

The problem with the freeze, however, is that you need to have a credit report in the first place before you can put it in cold storage. Because most children don’t, it’s usually been nearly impossible to freeze a child’s credit file.

In the last few years, though, that’s been changing. According to Heather Morton, a program principal with the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states now require the credit agencies to help parents and guardians create a new credit report for a minor child for the express purpose of immediately freezing it. Those states are Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Last month, Representative Jim Langevin, Democrat of Rhode Island, introduced legislation that would force the credit bureaus to let all of us do this. Equifax claims that it already lets any parent set up a freeze for a child in the other 31 states. Experian and TransUnion do not, though TransUnion, on its website, has a form that parents can complete so the company can check to see if there are any existing credit files under a child’s Social Security number.

The bureaus aren’t big fans of freezes, because they’re an administrative annoyance and they throw a giant roadblock in their business of peddling our information. Equifax, on its website, introduces freezes as something a consumer does after being victimized, as if we’d all want to wait until the burglar has left the premises to hire a security guard. TransUnion deserves credit for at least mentioning that children may be able to get one. All of them, however, worry about creating vulnerabilities where there were none by creating a credit file that did not previously exist.

Still, if you try to set one up for your child, you’re in for a battle. The agencies want reams of information, including copies of your child’s birth certificate and Social Security number plus certain bills that prove where you live. Equifax and TransUnion ask you to put all of this private information in an envelope and drop it into a mailbox. Even worse, two Equifax customer service representatives I spoke to this week insisted that I should put “minor child” at the top of the address. It might as well say, “Steal this envelope!”

I’m doing it anyway (though without saying, “Steal Me”), if only to annoy the agencies that so clearly do not want me to do this.

Freezes won’t stop every kind of theft, alas. Thieves sometimes use children’s Social Security numbers and other data to file fake tax returns and get illegitimate refunds, gain access to health care and work legally even if they are not citizens. In each of those instances, there may never be a credit check that reveals the freeze.

So what are the ways to keep private data private that are within our control? Don’t carry around Social Security cards. Keep them under lock and key at home. Keep your child’s date of birth off social media. Talk to your offspring about where to click and not to click on websites and in incoming email. Question school officials and doctors who want children’s Social Security numbers for forms, as it may not truly be necessary.

Also, keep your voice down at the pharmacy and physician’s office.

Robert P. Chappell Jr., author of “Child Identity Theft: What Every Parent Needs To Know,” sometimes jots down names, insurance information and other bits and pieces as he listens in those places and then approaches people afterward to gently correct their data hygiene. So far, nobody has punched him in the nose. “Most of them are very nice and have no idea about the harm that can come from it,” said Mr. Chappell, who works in law enforcement by day. “Usually, I’m in civilian clothes.”

One problem with the various legislative efforts to fix the problem is that they won’t do much about the many situations where it’s the children’s own parents who commit the identity fraud. Mothers and fathers may do this out of desperation, having already wrecked their own credit or experienced some acute financial calamity. Foster children are frequent identity theft victims, too. Whatever the reason for the crime, these parents aren’t about to freeze their children’s files.

So what could stop them? One possibility exists only in theory, and it’s called the 17-10 registry. The idea here is that when children are born, their Social Security numbers automatically go into a “do not break the glass until two months before age 18” database. Parents could be prohibited from opting out of the database for their children, and credit reporting agencies (and employers and the Internal Revenue Service) would hopefully crosscheck it before letting anyone use any Social Security number. TransUnion is experimenting with its own database that families in Utah can put their children in.

My daughter seems unscathed so far, and we are signing up for the free monitoring service that Anthem is making available for two years. But Adam Levin, the founder or co-founder of two credit- and identity-related businesses and the author of a book scheduled for release in November called “Swiped: What Identity Thieves Do and How to Stop Them,” questioned why the free service ought to halt then, even if Anthem is paying for a longer period than other breached organizations have in the past.

“Social Security numbers are like money in the bank, and thieves don’t need to use them at any specific moment in history,” he said. “You’re going to have to look over your shoulder for the rest of your life.”

Then again, you’re probably already doing that. The companies we pay and the governmental agencies that keep track of us have proved with startling consistency that they are not up to the task of keeping our data safe. Then, they compound that by dragging their feet when tools emerge that allow us to flip a switch and try to contain the damage.

Until that changes, you’re more or less on your own. But you already knew that, right?