Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rain Harvesting Financial Incentives

While reading a fascinating story on a couple who built themselves an eco-friendly tiny home, I noticed that they got a financial incentive to put up a green roof of growing things. Intrigued, I checked it out and found that Seattle did that sort of thing. There is, for instance, a rebate program for creating rain gardens and cisterns that prevent water from gushing back into the sewer system.  And there is a $5 per square foot incentive to put up the green roof.

There might be such things in your city. Toledo used to have financial assistance for rain gardens before the funding ran out. Increasingly cities are trying to give local residents and businesses some incentives to reduce water runoff. Even when grants and incentives don’t come from the government local nonprofits may get grants to help home and business owners. 
You can find out about other possible programs from organizations like American Rivers, or from Harvest H2O, which has a great state listing.  Or google the words rainwater harvesting incentives to see what else is available.

Friday, September 26, 2014

If You Are Already a Homeowner in Ohio, a New Program

You've heard about first tome homebuyer programs. These programs are as thick as fleas and can be found at every state housing agency, and are aimed at buyers who have not owned a home in the last three years.  But Ohio has a program to help current homeowners--or those who have owned a home in the last three years--buy yet another home. 

Next Home is the program for people contemplating that next home in Ohio.  You must have decent credit (at least 640), and there are some income limits. The assistance comes in the form of down payment assistance (2 1/2%) that is forgiven 20% per year that you live in the house, till it all goes away in 5 years.  Check it out of you seek assistance, but are already wan Ohio homeowner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ageless and Evergreen--the Obama Utility Payment Scam.

Six years into Obama's presidency, the myth that he is magically paying all kinds of bills is alive and well. If you are paying your Detroit water bill online, you will see a warning to not give your bank account number to someone who says they are part of the Obama utility relief fund.  The scam is so old and widespread that it even hit the urban legend big leagues: debunking by Snopes.

What to do if you are having a utility payment problem?  First, contact the utility and ask what relief plans they know of. If you live in an area that has a 211service, try calling that number for utility help.  Another source of help is your state's public utility commission.  Search their website or call them for more information.

If it's heating bills--and tis getting near the season--find the Liheap program for your state.  Also, find the Community Action Agency that covers your area.  But of someone goes looking for you, and particularly if they ask for bank information,vrun the pther way fast.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Free Searching for Lost Life Insurance Policies

Are you administering an estate, for a loved one or friend, and think that there might be a life insurance policy out somewhere?  In several states, the state insurance department will search for it for free.  According to the American Council on Life Insurance, the states of Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Vermont will do the search for free if you contact them.   Check the ACLI website for contacts for each of these states, as well as tips on how to search for lost policies on your own.

There is also a page of contacts for the insurance departments of each state, and a link to MIB, the Medical Information Bureau, which will do a fee-based ($75) search for lost policies.  MIB is a non-profit, member agency that collects information and helps insurers figure out insurance risks. 

If the life policy has been uncollected for a long time, it may have been turned over the the state, in which case you would search through state records for unclaimed funds.  Here's a link that describes where and how to find those funds. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Alternative to Payday Loans--Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan Program

A real problem for many people in a small financial jam--say, that need a new appliance or a car problem--is payday loans, which can put someone living on the financial edge right over, piling up fees and putting them in a cycle of debt.  Some people have an alternative, if you live in Toledo, New York City, Buffalo, NY, Denver, Houston, Kansas City or Burlington, VT.

A program called the Employer Sponsored Small Dollar Loan Program has started up in 14 credit unions across the United States, and the local employers who work with them.  It works like this: if you work for one of the cooperating employers, you can apply for a small loan of $300-$1500 at one of the credit unions.  The credit unions verify that you work there, you get the loan, and then your employers deduct the money from your pay in the future till it's paid off.  No giant fees, no cycle of debt.

If you live in one of these cities, and your employer is part of the program, you may be able to get help for small loans.  Hopefully, more programs like this can help take a cut out of payday loans.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Grants for Individuals Who Need Help Paying for Mobility Equipment

The Ralph Braun Foundation has opened up a new grant cycle (meaning that they are accepting applications) from now through August 31st.  They are looking to fund mobility equipment for individuals who need the equipment, are pulling money together, and just need a bit more help to get them over the top.  The grant is meant to pay up to 25% of the needed funds, with a cap of $5000.  Equipment can include things like van conversions, wheelchair lifts, car top wheelchair carriers and more. 

You need to apply online, and here are the qualifications.  All applications must include a price quote from a NMEDA (National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association) dealer.