April 29, 2013

April is Financial Literacy and Fair Housing Month!

            Financial Literacy sounds like one of those fancy terms made up by someone wanting to sound smarter and better than others. Really though, it’s about making sure you’re financially stable and healthy. As it so happens, since 2004, the United States has recognized April as National Financial Literacy Month. If you happen to be reading this in Canada, November is their National Financial Literacy Month.
            It’s important to take regular check of your financial health. There are wonderful services for free online that you can put your account numbers in safely and develop budgets, payments plans, savings plans, and more. They will send you alerts and reminders for each of your accounts. Perhaps the most sobering (at least for me) part of these websites is that they tell you your net worth. In other words, your cash and other assets versus your debt. If you are lucky, this number will be green and your assets outweigh your debt. If you are perhaps not so financially healthy, your number will be red.
It only takes a glance at the papers, news stations or internet to know that every day debt is increasing. Also that the upcoming generations will have a harder time being as financially stable as their parents. That is why it is important to teach our children proper handling of money, credit cards, and most especially student loans. We need to teach them (and ourselves) to save, no matter what. Always shop around for necessities (like insurance) to find the best deals. Even simple things like making sure you keep your checkbook balanced can help keep you on top of your finances. Take advantage of online banking to set up automatic payments and keep you on track of your balances. Also, paperless billing to help save some trees as well!

Helpful Links:
http://www.virtualpiggy.com/ - Great for kids!

Not only is April Financial Literacy Month, it is also Fair Housing Month. If you came to our Spring Workshop on the 20th, you were lucky enough to hear a great presentation by Alyssa Bergsten from Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME), the leading fair housing organization in Western New York. NHS of South Buffalo has always supported fair housing, and the importance of fair housing policies has been an educational focal point in our pre-purchase homebuyers’ seminars, as well as their rights and responsibilities when they are shopping for a home. If you come to us with a fair housing complaint, we will refer you to HOME to help you with your problem.
If you are curious as to what fair housing means or if you think you might have a complaint, here is a quick rundown. According to the HUD website: “The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:
  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):
  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminate in appraising property
  • Refuse to purchase a loan or
  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:
  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Additional Protection if You Have a Disability
If you or someone associated with you:
  • Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Have a record of such a disability or
  • Are regarded as having such a disability

your landlord may not:
  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.”

Helpful Links:

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