Citizens Bank helps Support The American Dream of Homeownership Via NeighborWorks® Rochester Grant

Rochester area residents wanting to fulfill the American Dream of homeownership will be supported by a recent grant from Citizens Bank to NeighborWorks Rochester. The $5,000 grant will help provide tools and resources that allow homebuyers to become mortgage-ready through NeighborWorks Rochester’s homeownership education and counseling. Participants are provided with financial coaching, education in mortgage products, and guidance on available financial assistance and first-time homebuyer grants.

“Our goal is to prepare future homeowners for success – a key component of strengthening the Rochester area’s neighborhoods.” stated Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Executive Director. “We provide the tools homebuyers need to prepare themselves and, as a member of the NeighborWorks America network, our approach is proven.”

NeighborWorks® Rochester is a HUD Housing Counseling Agency serving Rochester and the surrounding area.  The non-profit organization also creates sustainable communities by providing lead paint inspections, home improvement loans and energy services programs that improve energy efficiency, real estate values and resident wellness.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is an affiliate of NeighborWorks® America, and a member of NeighborWorks Community Partners – a consolidation with NeighborWorks organizations in Buffalo and Niagara, formed to increase the number of prospective homebuyers that can be served throughout the Greater Rochester Area, and throughout Western NY.

Is Your New Year’s Resolution To Take Control of Debt?

Did you make a New Year’s Resolution? Many people make resolutions for the New Year such as eating healthy, losing weight, increasing savings, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, etc. Was yours to make better decisions about money?

If your goal is to take better control of your finances, here are some quick tips for staying on track:

  1. Have a vision board with your written goals on it. As items are completed, check them off. A vision board is a constant reminder of your goals. People who have vision boards are reminded every day of their goals, and are most likely to complete them. It might be on your refrigerator, or on your bathroom mirror, on your car’s sun visor or at your desk at work.
  2. Know what your total debt is. Add up your total net income. Add up your current household expenses. Is there money left over after all the bills are paid? If not, then there are two options: increase income or current expenses need to be reduced.
  3. Are any of your current expenses “Want” instead of a “Need”? Is cable TV an absolute must-have for you or your family or can you cut it out of your budget? Can you make more meals at home rather than dining out? Do you purchase coffee on your way to work every day? Make a cup at home to reduce your daily expenses. It all adds up over time.
  4. Have you had an Energy Assessment done on your home? It could save you money on your monthly utility bills and cost you nothing. Visit NeighborWorks Energy Services to learn more.
  5. Look for ways to earn extra income. Working over-time, internet income opportunities, obtaining a better-paying job, selling some stored items in your attic or garage are all ways to increase your bottom line. Do you have items that are collecting dust that you do not use can be sold? Start preparing for a garage sale, virtual or real.
  6. Use any extra money you make or receive -a bonus, commissions, tax refunds – to start paying down your debt. Pay the bills with the smallest balances first and/ or pay bills with the highest interest rates first.
  7. Always make sure you pay your bills on time to avoid the extra late charges.

 

Once you start paying down your debt, your stress levels will reduce, and you will feel much better once you achieve your goal. And isn’t that what resolutions are all about?

If you feel you need more help to take charge of your debt, sign up for one of our Financial Fitness Classes by creating a Compass Account. Or give us a call at 585-325-4170.

Building Upon the Past

till-fritzschingTill Fritzsching of Rochester, NY, found his new home on Craig’s List three years ago. Although the house was set for demolition by the City of Rochester, he saw the home and felt that it was a metaphor for his own life journey – as he puts it “the home had been through hell, and so had I.”
In 2013, Mr. Fritzsching had hit rock bottom. He was divorced, and no longer employed at the successful mid-west company he had once presided over. His home of the past few years had been a jail cell due to addiction. A physical injury had set him back as well and he ended up living in his mother’s home.
When he first saw the 1920’s era house on Northview Terrace, he knew it had potential, despite years of neglect and trees growing through the roof. The only tenants for years had been rodents. As the building was scheduled for demolition the very next day, the price was affordable. However, there was much work to be done to save it from the wrecking ball.
A neighbor referred him to NeighborWorks® Rochester, as the organization had assisted several other homeowners in the neighborhood. While he had put in a lot of his own sweat-equity, and had to learn to negotiate a labyrinth of homeowner-assistance programs, he still had a long way to go to rehab the home. NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to assist on several fronts.
NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to provide Mr. Fritzsching with resources for lead testing and encapsulation in the his home, garage, and basement, a new roof, gutters and eaves, exterior and interior paint, a new porch. “The house went from the worst on the block to one of the best,” Mr. Fritzsching stated. Also added to the home were new windows and a water heater.

In the past 5 years, NeighborWorks® Rochester has invested $4,784,000 in loans to help 279 homeowners purchase or rehab their home. Many of these loans also had a grant as part of the assistance, which allowed homeowners even more capacity to fix their house, without having to finance all of the expense. NeighborWorks® Rochester will work with customers who may be turned away by traditional lenders due to credit issues or not having enough equity in their home. The organization is a resource to homeowners who may face losing their home or living in disrepair or unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

“NeighborWorks® Rochester left a great taste in my mouth, and was my first choice once my credit was cleaned up. The contractors were great and I’m really satisfied,” Mr. Fritzsching added.
In a neighborhood hard-hit by the city’s decades of manufacturing job loss, his home now stands out as one of the nicest on the street.
Mr. Fritzsching added, “I’m not done yet. I just built myself a new back porch, and it really satisfies me to look at where this house was and where it is now. I consider not only the house but the project as a metaphor for my own life recovery in the sense that I made a commitment to restoring a once beautiful thing, much like my own life, to not necessarily what it was before but rather a recreation of a new vision of what it could be. I believe that the past should always be recognized and the foundation on what we can build, but we should never be limited by it for its own sake. That to me at least, gives me the freedom to not only build upon the past but create a new reality from it.”
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Home For The Holidays

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Home for the Holidays….
What does that mean to you? Not just bricks and mortar but the place where you find refuge, the pride of ownership, where you feel safe, welcome and happy. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s mission is to build great communities, one homeowner at a time.
Your belief in healthy community and strong homeownership can help NeighborWorks® Rochester continue to assist hundreds of individuals each year. Help us bridge the gap for individuals who need a hand up to achieve their dream of healthy homeownership with your generous support.
Our focus is to ensure safe, healthy homes for Rochester area families. That includes educating first time homebuyers about the smart way to buy a home and assisting homeowners who need help when the roof is leaking or when they can’t afford to replace an aging furnace. We work with neighbors to develop a sense of community through our Healthy Blocks program, making streets safer and neighborhoods more stable. We help hundreds of families each year create secure, healthy homes to raise their children.

Nereida is an example of how your passion about our mission will help to keep the Rochester community strong:

As a nurse and single mom from Rochester, Nereida discovered that the NeighborWorks® Rochester’s free Home Energy Assessment wNereidaas just the beginning of a new homeowner journey and that our staff was able to help her in many additional, unexpected ways. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s professionally-trained staff were able to pin point the areas in her home where she should invest to receive the best return on her money. As a hardworking mom, she wasn’t sure how to check her credit history or weed out unscrupulous contractors. Our Homeowner Advisors were with her every step of the way, from reviewing her credit history – even finding and removing a damaging credit mistake – to working with the home improvement contractors to make sure that she received the best service possible.
Now, when Nereida’s grandchildren come through her front door, they’ll feel more than the warmth of the holidays. They’ll walk in from the cold weather, all bundled up, and feel the warm air on their rosy cheeks, in a home that’s no longer drafty. This holiday season, for the first time ever, she can enjoy entertaining family and friends in her large, eat-in kitchen due to the improvements that NeighborWorks® Rochester made to her home. Her holidays will be filled with the love and laughter of family, rather than concern about how to pay her heating bills and the deteriorating condition of her home. “I am so relieved. My utility bill is a third of what it used to be because of the improvements. I no longer have to turn to HEAP to get through the winter. My house is new to me.” And best of all, she is a partner in the improvements in her home because NeighborWorks® Rochester gave her trusted information, helped her access additional resources and educated her on how to maintain her home. NeighborWorks® Rochester “made me feel accomplished,” Nereida added. She is now a stronger homeowner, which will benefit her neighborhood and our community.

Nereida is one of hundreds of homeowners in our community that NeighborWorks® Rochester assists every year. As our partner, you can help us to continue to be a full-service shop for home owners – providing access to resources, education and trusted advice.
Your support is essential. Without your caring and generous gift, homeowners such as Nereida may not receive the helping hand needed to remain in their homes. Everyone deserves a healthy, happy home to enjoy during the holidays and beyond.
Won’t you please consider making a gift to our Home For the Holidays Annual Campaign? Your investment in our community will have a lasting impact on our community’s health through homeownership.

All of us at NeighborWorks® Rochester would like to express our sincere wishes that your home is filled with joy throughout the holiday season,

Maureen K. Murphy
Executive Director

Make a Gift Now

Grant from JP Morgan Chase & Co. to Support Financial Fitness

NeighborWorks® Rochester is pleased to announce that they are the recipient of a $60,000 grant from JPMorgan Chase to support enhancement of technological systems for its Financial Fitness Program. The grant will allow NeighborWorks® Rochester to build capacity and efficiency through technology and will have a tremendous impact on the financial health of its customers. Individual successes through the NeighborWorks® Rochester Financial Fitness Program will increase with the organization’s ability to more effectively track, monitor and manage their progress. The JP Morgan Chase Foundation’s partnership in this initiative is instrumental to its success.

Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester stated, “Assisting those who strive to improve their lives by increasing their financial skills and providing education for successful homeownership is the core of the NeighborWorks® Rochester mission. We’re extremely pleased to partner with JPMorgan Chase with an innovative approach to provide those in need with tools and resources to make a better path for themselves. In turn, this will also help to build strong neighborhoods in the Rochester community by providing educated, financially-stable, long-term homeowners.”

The support of community partners like JPMorgan Chase allows NeighborWorks® Rochester to continue to provide these services and more. The community-based organization builds strong neighborhoods by educating and counseling new homeowners, providing resources to individuals who may be turned away by traditional lenders, energy-savings programs and targeted neighborhood revitalization through the Healthy Blocks Neighborhood Initiative.

NeighborWorks® Rochester and First Niagara Bank Celebrate Partnership during NeighborWorks® Week

Equity Builder Celebration
From Left: Migdalia Toro NeighborWorks® Rochester Homeownership Coordinator, Ted Colucci, NeighborWorks® Rochester Lending Program Manager, Maureen Murphy, NeighborWorks® Rochester Executive Director, homeowners Jaime Rivera and Danielle McDonald, Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell, First Niagara Bank.

NeighborWorks® Rochester recently celebrated the success of its Equity Builder Loan program by recognizing the first recipient of the loan and our bank partner, First Niagara Bank. The loan helps new homeowners save money on their home by providing closing cost assistance, up to 105% Loan to Value of the home. Homeowners Jamie Rivera and Danielle McDonald, of Rochester, were on hand, along with Phil Swetz and Bridget Campbell of First Niagara to be part of the celebration.

The event was part of the local celebration of NeighborWorks® Week, a nationally-recognized celebration of neighborhood revitalization activities.

“First Niagara is a huge proponent of initiatives that increase self-sufficiency, stabilize housing and improve our neighborhoods,” said Phil Swetz, First Niagara Vice President of Mortgage Banking. “We’re proud to work with Neighborworks® to contribute to stronger, more diverse and thriving communities.”

The Equity Builder Loan helps future homeowners purchase a home with a down payment of more than 20%, avoiding a monthly Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) payment. Over the course of home ownership, this can result in substantial savings.

“We are so thrilled to be able to offer this loan product in conjunction with our bank partner,” said Maureen Murphy, Executive Director of NeighborWorks® Rochester. “It provides money for closing costs and long-term savings for the homeowner. And, as any homeowner can tell you, buying the home is just the beginning – you need to be able to maintain and sustain it throughout the years. We are pleased to be able to help those homeowners stay in it for the long run and make our community stronger as well.

During NeighborWorks® Week, NeighborWorks® Rochester and other NeighborWorks® organizations across the country will mobilize people for neighborhood change and awareness, rehab and repair homes, paint and landscape properties, conduct neighborhood tours, recognize successful partnerships and host a number of events that educate, train and inform.

NeighborWorks® Rochester is part of the national NeighborWorks® network, an affiliation of more than 245 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In 2014, the NeighborWorks® network helped­ 300,000 individuals and families with affordable housing and counseling. The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

Want to learn more about the Equity Builder or NeighborWorks® Rochester loans? Give us a call at 325-4170.

NeighborWorks® Rochester’s 2014 Award Recipients

Congratulations to our NeighborWorks® Rochester award recipients! After all of your hard work in the community, you deserve it! Below are pictures of our award recipients in front of our “Home is…” wall where individuals write post-its of what home means to them. Read up on Home Matters, a national movement to make “home” a reality for everyone.

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The “Employee of the Year” award went to Allan Rayburn in recognition & appreciation for his dedication & efforts throughout his time here. Thank you for all your hard work!

John Price

John Borek received the “Edline Chun, Volunteer of the Year” award for his dedication to volunteering in the community, creating  art projects that inspire others. Thank you for your dedication!

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Nancy Johns-Price, City of Rochester Neighborhood Service Center,  received “Partner of the Year”  for her outstanding efforts in the community. Thank you for continuing to build strong neighborhoods!

Burglary Prevention Tips

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  • Record all serial numbers of electronics (phones, televisions, VCRs, video games, power tools, lawn equipment, etc).  Use an address book to organize these.  When purchasing these items don’t put the empty boxes at the curb.  A 60’ TV box means a 60’ TV is inside, and new!
  • Secure your garbage toter.
  • Do not assume any first floor window is too high for someone to get in.  Look for hose outlets, electric meters, gas inlets, or molding that someone could stand on.  Can I reach the window if I use your garbage tote/ outdoor furniture, etc?
  • Be sure deadbolt extends at least 1 ½ inches into doorframe.
  • Use long screws to secure locks into the doorframe. (3”)
  • Make sure wood around the lock receiver is in good shape and use a metal strike plate.
  • Can deadbolt be reached/turned if a small window is broken or opened?
  • If you use the double sided key deadbolt, keep key nearby, but in unusual spot (not hanging on the wood molding, right next to the lock!  Go for lower position)
  • Be sure you have a way to see who is at the door before you open it (peephole, nearby window). Direct to other door if not.  Don’t ignore violators of this.
  • Lock your door, even when mowing/ shoveling etc.
  • Light your yard at night.  (60 watt, 300 hours/month= 99 cents.)
  • If you have storm doors, use them.  If locks are broken, install latch.
  • Secure basement windows. Glass block runs about $125 a window, $2 for 2×4’s.
  • Use “Charley-Bar” on sliding glass doors and windows.
  • Use pins on vinyl windows to leave open.
  • On wood windows, nails work in place of pins.
  • Make sure air conditioner cannot be pushed in or pulled out.
  • Never bar bedroom windows.
  • Use curtains, drapes, or blinds on first floor windows, especially near holidays.
  • Secure second floor windows if they can be accessed from porch, attached garage or other low roof, large tree branches, etc.
  • Keep shrubs below window level.
  • Make sure house numbers are highly visible and in usual spot.
  • Consider installing an alarm or even just putting the signs up.
  • If you have an alarm- use it, always.
  • Clean alarm panel: code may be obvious by which numbers are dirty.
  • Make sure your alarm company has updated info.
  • Make sure the alarm panel isn’t visible from a door or window.
  • Hide true valuables in kid’s rooms or basements—burglars don’t generally look there. Kitchen, living room, bathroom and master bedroom-first hit.
  • Get to know neighbors behind you.
  • Keep cell charger on nightstand so cell phone is at your bedside at night.
  • Keep car keys on nightstand if you have keyless entry.  You can hit the panic button if you awake to something happening.
  • Dog walkers notice things; don’t be afraid to call neighbors to report something.
  • Know your mailman by name.
  • Burglars don’t always look like crooks; they may have been to your house before for delivery or yard maintenance.
  • Leaving a TV or radio on can serve as a good burglar deterrent.
  • Dogs are great deterrents.
  • Use a baby monitor in areas you are concerned about.

 

Going Green with Energy

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Beginning last Fall, the Healthy Blocks program has been working to improve the sustainability efforts of Brooks Landing and the Pocket neighborhood. One initiative urged residents to trade their old incandescent light bulbs for newer, more energy efficient CFL bulbs. Healthy Blocks also promoted supporting local businesses, like the Westside Farmers Market, to further reduce the carbon footprint. Another initiative included door-to-door outreach, providing information about free energy audits, conducted by NeighborWorks Rochester’s Energy Services.

An energy audit will test your home for many things including air leaks, insulation and your furnace. Then, the audit will provide solutions for you and your family as a result of the findings. These recommendations will show the most effective ways to make improvements from upgrading appliances to adding more insulation and other cost effective measures to get the most out of your home energy usage. An energy audit also confirms that your house is operating in a safe manner; carbon monoxide, exhaust methods on the furnace and gas leaks are all tested.

As an incentive for residents applying for an energy audit in the Healthy Blocks neighborhoods, they were entered into a raffle to win a free Energy Star appliance of their choosing (up to $750). Early this Spring, Healthy Blocks staff selected the winners! Penny Griffin from the Brooks Landing neighborhood and the Ruth Family from the Pocket neighborhood each received a brand new appliance just for signing up to do an audit.

Our green efforts will continue through this year. Up next, you will find some projects at the craft table at the Westside Farmers Market, teaching kids about sustainability. Congratulations to Penny and the Ruths!

For more information about energy audits and how you may qualify for a free audit, visit our website at: https://www.nwrochester.org/programs-services/energy-services/energy-audits/

10 Ways to Save

By: Maggie Toro

  1. Carry a small notebook to document all your spending. Online trackers are also available, like Mint.com.
  2. Brown-bag it. You will save money each day by bringing your lunch to work.
  3. Check for coupons from local restaurants that you can use to reduce your eating cost.
  4. Avoid days when grocery items go up: the 1st, 2nd 3rd, 15th, 30th and 31st. Leave the kids at home, bring a list and stick to it.  Everything at eye level is the most expensive.
  5. Downgrade. Buy a converter box and TV antenna or eliminate cable all together.
  6. Carry small amount of cash if you are prone to spend.  Use a debit card to help you keep track of your monthly expenses.
  7. Look for ways to reduce cell phone charges. Prepaid cell phone is an option.
  8. Carpool with friends or co-workers to save money on gas or take the bus to work or school.
  9. Instead of going to the movies, rent a movie for a family night at home.
  10. Save at least 10 percent of your pay for an emergency fund. Once you have at least $1000 saved, put it in a CD account to make your money increase at the end of the CD term.